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On Being A Theist Essay

1973 words - 8 pages

Atheism is certainly one of the adversaries of theism. However, atheism provides an important role to theism by acting as a “devil’s advocate” which, in turn, ultimately strengthens theism. In the journal article “On Being an Atheist” written by H.J. McCloskey, McCloskey is both critical of the classical arguments for God’s existence and offers the problem of evil as a reason why one should not believe in God. McCloskey progresses through, in his opinion, the weakest arguments for theism, such as the cosmological argument, teleological argument, and the problem of evil. In the end, McCloskey asserts that atheism is more comforting than theism. Through the course of the article, McCloskey brings up constructive points of theism, however at the same time shows his misunderstanding of theism. Therefore, McCloskey acts as a “devil’s advocate” of theism, ultimately helping to strengthen the arguments for theism.
McCloskey refers to the arguments for God’s existence as “proofs” and often implies that they cannot definitively establish the case for God, so therefore they should be abandoned. However, the foremost problem with viewing the arguments for God’s existence as “proofs” is that they are not proofs. These are arguments and thus are not like the proofs found in Mathematics which are one-hundred percent certain (Foreman). Since these are arguments, not “proofs”, there is no way to come to a one-hundred percent certain conclusion with such arguments. Therefore, McCloskey is viewing and trying to use the arguments for God’s existence in an unfitting manner and in a way that they were not intended to be used.
McCloskey claims that the “mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in such a being,” (1968, p. 51) however, the universe must have originated from an uncaused cause. McCloskey’s claim can be disproved with the non-temporal form of the cosmological argument which states that the universe had no beginning in time, thus it is infinitely old and the cause could have created the universe in the infinite past. Nevertheless, the world around us is made up of contingent beings which rely on a cause for their existence. This is seen in the fact that a son requires the cause of a father and the father requires the cause of a father and so on. Therefore, it is essential that the contingent beings must have a first cause that is created by a necessary being: a being that is uncaused and thus does not need further explanation (Evans & Manis, 2009, p. Loc: 672).
McCloskey also claims that the cosmological argument “does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause” (1968, p. 51). This statement by McCloskey shows his lack of understanding of how “limited a conclusion the cosmological argument reaches” (Evans & Manis, 2009, p. Loc: 760). The cosmological argument only claims that an uncaused necessary being was the first cause of the universe. Thus, this argument is not only an argument for the Biblical God,...

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