The solution is a comprehensive guide tackling the work of Philosopher H.J. McCloskey providing an analysis of his 1968 article, "On Being an Athiest". The full details of the academic problem originally posted by the student is indicated below:
I need some help in responding to an article written by an actual atheist. This article, titled, "On Being an Athiest," was written by H. J. McCloskey in 1968 for the journal Question One. McCloskey is an Australian philosopher who wrote a number of atheistic works in the 1960s and 70s including the book God and Evil (Nijhoff, 1974). In this article, 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. I need to be respectful of McCloskey's view, but I am a Christian and will need to be coming from that perspective.
I need help in responding to the following points he raises. I need detailed responses to each of the points he raises.
Specifically, addressing the following:
* The place that proofs play in coming to believe in God
* McCloskey's criticisms of the cosmological argument
o The need for uncaused cause
o The question of all-powerful, all perfect God
o God as a limited being
* McCloskey's criticisms of the teleological argument
o Evolution as an answer to the evidence of design
o The need for "indisputable" proofs
o God as a malevolent, imperfect designer
* McCloskey's view of faith
o Faith as taking a risk
o Faith in a friend based on past knowledge
* McCloskey's use of the problem of evil
o What is evil?
o Proposed solutions that McCloskey claims don't work
o Moral evil - is free will necessary? Couldn't God set it up so people would freely choose to do good?
* McCloskey's view that atheism is more comforting
Any help or insights you could provide would be appreciated.
Note on the response: This response contains sections which utilizes the passive voice. In common academia, the passive voice is generally avoided, however, in circumstances such as this, when the ideas tend to the abstract, the passive voice lends to the explanation and clarification of ideas. As such, the passive voice should offer a clearer, more precise meaning.
1. The place that proofs play in coming to believe in God
According to McCloskey, proofs do not necessarily play a vital role in the belief of God. Page 62 of the article states that "most theists do not come to believe in God as a basis for religious belief, but come to religion as a result of other reasons and factors." However, he feels that as far as proofs serve theists, the three most commonly accepted are the cosmological, the teleological, and the argument from design. It is important to note that he considers these arguments as reasons to "move ordinary theists to their theism." (p.63) This is not necessary the case and contradicts the former statement that most theists do not hold to these proofs. As such, the attempt to dispute these arguments as a reason not to believe in God is almost not worth attempting. If theists do not generally hold to these proofs as reasons for faith, then why bother trying to dispute them to theists? Continuing to do so seems as though he is motivated to prove a point few are not interested in disputing, and thus is purposely trying to set up theist belief as ridiculous; in other words, he is looking to pick to a fight. This is not an intellectual objective article. Bias necessarily forfeits intellectual objectivity.
2. McCloskey's criticisms of the cosmological argument
The cause-effect rationalization understands a relation between things that are in existence, will come into existence, and pass out of existence. If God, or something else (a power, force, whatever) were part of the frame of causation already in motion, then it would belong to that which is caused by something else. The uncaused cause holds to that which is outside the framework of causation. Most philosophers hold that this first cause cannot be caused for the reason that it is outside causation. Something would need to set forth in motion the ring of causality. If the premise stands, then such a first cause would have to exist necessarily, otherwise it would have been caused. This necessity is one of causal relation, as long as the premise is accepted.
As regards the cosmological argument itself, McCloskey states that "all we entitled to infer is the existence of a cause commensurate with the effect to be explained, the universe, and this does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause." (p.63) This is indeed true, there is no reason to necessarily infer a God person, however; the inference is of the nature that suggests (hence the term ...