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Responding to H. J. Mccloskey’s on Being an Atheist Essay

This paper seeks to clarify whether the claims and proofs presented by McCloskey’s article “On Being an Atheist” provide sufficient ammunition to dissuade people from maintaining their belief in God. It was McCloskey’s intent to systematically discredit God and show that life without God is a better proposition. Through this essay evidence will be provided whether McCloskey had it right and atheism ought be embraced or “it is time to seek the Lord.” McCloskey begins his argument by implying that there is no definitive case established for God and therefore belief in such a God is worth abandoning. My response examines several points. The existence of God is the best explanation for what exists in the universe. Scientists believe that gravity explains certain effects; gravity is a consistent undeniable reality. Although scientists have never seen gravity, various physical “laws” define its effects on earth and on the moon. We have not seen God, but the imprint of His fingerprints continue to cause undeniable effects with men. These effects are the best explanation that God exists.

Were we even to take the minimalistic approach, are not there evidences of an intelligent Creator reflected through such human characteristics such as personality, morality and intelligence. No other species minimal description compares with the God of the Bible. Yet, wherever trail of history has taken man, there are accounts of men who established and upheld moral standards. Although McCloskey claims that the “mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in such a being” … as God I argue otherwise. Because the God under examination is a moral being, I want to examine the moral proclivity associated with man. Do not many people regard men as moral-based beings? That because man has the capacity to think logically – he only is able to consider what ought to be. This ability reflects through the comic book character Spiderman, “With much ability comes great responsibility.” In other words, there is a self-imposed obligation to toward seeking and doing what is best. McCloskey also claims that the cosmological argument “does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause.”

To this, I respond that because the Bible tells us there is a divine basis to obey God’s word and that obedience comes through willful submission to the authority of God. It is the word of God declares the likeness of God is in men. Therefore, we have a responsibility to honor one another and relate with one another in an ethically moral manner. It is because God purposed that men be like him that the effect – the ability and desire toward ethical morality exists. I think that McCloskey’s very conclusive objection is such that he did not believe there was merit to intelligent design involved with man. The problem that I see is that there is no evidence of present random process that is continuing to evolve the human race. In fact, the only way for McCloskey to substantiate his position is to exercise faith in it – which would also be an admission of the merit of Bible-based faith. I think the evidence of divine creation is a law of thermodynamics that states, “Matter cannot be created nor destroyed.” Because scientists concluded that matter could not be created – there was no “Big Bang.”

There could not have been the random appearance of matter that transformed itself into life, even though life forms consist of mere matter – , carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen. Were evolution true, would there be a need for a designer? My response is yes, for there are categorical differences between man and other life forms. Chimps and other primates may exhibit a similitude of morality, but these animals do not compare with the breadth of and commitment for which man has a moral capacity. For men has recently described and demanded specific “rights” according to sex, age and income. Studies of animals have never reached similar conclusions. McCloskey claims the presence of imperfection and evil in the world argues against “the perfection of the divine design or divine purpose in the world.” I respond to this charge by asserting there is a contingency at play. Were God to exist and be good, it is also possible that beings exist that do not fully embrace or embody the same characteristics of just, good and kind. Such beings would therefore exhibit and have the propensity and proclivity toward evil.

As McCloskey raises the curtain to expose and ridicule God because of evil, my response is thusly. McCloskey chooses to omit the biblical record that originally declared man perfect and free from sin. There was no evil until man disobeyed God. From that point forward, there has been ongoing evil in the world – both natural and moral. However, the recurrence of evil may be due largely to the “unnatural” state of the world, as it has never recovered from the curse of that sin. I believe this accounts for the natural evils that occur as the word of God declares there will be a new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Since that first sin, men were born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5). Sinners do what sinners do – moral acts of evil. Evil is neither a reflection nor a responsibility of God. God is merciful, but humanity is the cause agent for moral evil and not God. I beg to differ with McCloskey regarding the free will argument that men ought not have the capacity to do evil. My take – were we to whittle doing wrong to only two possible outcomes, either could be true – then God could not be omnipotent and therefore neither could God be responsible for the outcome.

The logical conclusion is that free will allows the possibility of men choosing evil and this choice does not violate God’s sovereignty or his omnipotence. Going further, because God exists and he is purposeful; God’s sovereignty does not allow random acts of evil to occur. It may not be apparent why something happened, but we can be assured that God knows – they why? Several times in the Bible, the notion of the greater good is expressed (Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28). I would further state that making a claim that X cannot exist because of the presence of Y is the result of a hastily contrived conclusion. We have the potential to misunderstand. Many things we misunderstand – especially when those things are bad, negative or questionable. Sometimes it almost seems necessary that something unexpected happens to rattle our cage and get us in the right track. Adversity often causes us to appreciate, reassess or take another approach as we seek a more positive outcome.

How well do we know that although a thing may be good – it is not good for you! McCloskey ends his quasi manifesto on atheism with his claim that atheism is more comforting than theism. To this, I respond that I would find life without God most miserable and purposeless. What would be the worth of living moral if this life were all that mattered? Why would I want to strive to become better, help others, and invent technology or seek disease cures. I would whole-heartedly agree with Solomon, that such a life is not worth living. Had I not believed there was a moral God who would be motivated to live a moral lifestyle; I would have buckled and turned to evil as a means to avenge personal wrongs I have experienced. What need would there be for courts or causes that last sometimes for years.

It is at great cost, but who would really care? Instead of incarcerating criminals, we execute them. We no longer seek any type of redemptive value or rehabilitation – we seek elimination. After all, have they not forfeited their rights to life? Yet, there is often a struggle to keep an unhealthy newborn baby alive. Although our morality base champions abortions, many people mourn miscarriages and stillborn births. Many people were terrified when they realized they were breathing their last breaths. Many people are spending money trying to look younger and live longer. Why is this? They simply do not want to die. This implies there is a deep meaning to life; there is a purpose for life, which transcends the grave. Most frequently, we use medicine, our will and just about any other means necessary to prolong life.

Writing this essay was a good exercise as it provided an opportunity, with some guidance to formulate a philosophically based response to issues regarding theology for which now I have a strong platform upon which to respond and refute. I believe that several positions and arguments were in favor of believing that God does exist. Because God is, it is time to find out what He requires of us so that our days spent on earth are not be filled with a lack of meaning and purpose. Instead, we live lives bent on living life as morally sound as possible as our faith in and dependence is upon the moral, personal and intelligent God whom we will also come to know as being good, loving and kind.

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