Response to "On Being an Atheist" Essay

-1This is a response to H. J. McCloskey’s Article, “On Being an Atheist”. While I believe that Mr . McCloskey put a lot of thought into this article I think he made some assumptions about all theists that are not necessarily correct. Throughout his argument it seems that he focuses primarily on the existence of evil to support his non belief in God. He started off immediately in this argument by stating that because of the evil that exists in this world that if we are to say there was a creator he was either a “malevolent powerful being or a well-intentioned muddler. ” [1] He automatically places the blame of evil on a creator if one exists.

However, I have to ask myself if a creator does not exist where did evil come from, what is the cause of evil. Mr. McCloskey claimed that the cosmological argument ” does not entitle us to postulate an all powerful, all perfect, uncaused cause. ” On the subject of the universe having a cause, I believe there is enough scientific data to confirm that the universe indeed had a beginning and that it has not always existed eternally. Something as simple as how the sun and its heat is diminishing shows us that if the universe has always existed the sun would have been gone a long time ago.

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Mr. McCloskey feels that the existence of a “caused” universe , even if proven, will never validate the existence of an omnipotent or God created universe. I did not notice in this article any reference to a first cause or his feelings on that subject . My question to this would be, what was the cause of this first cause? I think that there are many holes in his theory and that while his article showed a lot of thought was put into the subject I think he obviously and deliberately did not address some very important issues to support his argument against a God created universe.

While we cannot scientifically prove that God was the creator of the universe, Mr. McCloskey can also not prove to us that he did not create it. Once again Mr. McCloskey went back to his theory on the existence of evil, that seems to be his answer to every argument. Mr. McCloskey stated in his article that ““To get the proof going, genuine, indisputable examples of design or purpose are needed. ” . His standard of indisputability is not reasonable or logical at all. My problem with his stating this, is that I did not see him offer any indisputable examples of design or purpose for his theory .

What part of the Big Bang Theory and its ideas of smaller parts of the cosmos being the initial parts that formed the universe , are indisputable examples? There are so many things that have never been indisputably explained by evolution. No one has ever explained the missing link among other things. McCloskey stated that ” All we know of God is through his alleged works; and his alleged works are such that we cannot conclude from them that he is all perfect” [2] I wonder how Mr. McCloskey would explain the historical facts that point to the existence of Jesus and the miracles he performed while on this earth.

The existence of Christ is not just faith based but is historically based. For the atheist to claim that our argument on God’s existence does not prove that it is possible that God exists brings up the question that then the atheist must claim that it is impossible for God to exist. [3] That then poses the question, is that claim something that the atheist is willing to make? On the problem of evil, which is one of the main components of McCloskey’s argument, there seem to be numerous assumptions and illogical conclusions.

If God had made us to be always virtuous and always choose what is right then we would have no free will. By giving us the Holy Spirit he instills within us the desire to do that which is right. We do what is right and holy, not because he forces us to do so but because we have the desire to do so. What one of us as parents wants our child to only do what is right because we force him to do so. Wouldn’t we rather instill in our children the desire to do what is right because we have instilled virtues and values in him that will follow him throughout his lifetime?

If we do everything for our children, how do they then learn anything. There is a statement that tells us to give a man a fish he eats for a day, yet if we teach him how to fish he lives for a lifetime. The same thing for instilling values instead of forcing them on us. If God took away our free will and our choice between good and evil then he would just be giving us a solution, not teaching us anything. Life after all, is about learning and growth. On the subject of evil and good, we have to go back to the fact that we cannot have one without the other.

I am sure we have all heard the story of how evil is just the absence of good. Dark does not truly exist, it is just the absence of light. I see a lot of stereotypical statements within this article. McCloskey makes the assumption that all theist believe that all things evil or disastrous are the act of God. I disagree, I think they are a direct result of the lack of God. Does not even science teach us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? On McCloskey’s claim as atheism being more comforting than theism, I again argue that he is making statements based on assumptions and not on facts.

Either I am not a “typical” Christian or for such a seemingly intelligent man he has went out on a limb by making stereotypical claims about what a Christian does and does not believe. I personally do not find religion comforting at all. I find the peace of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit comforting, within the scope of a relationship with Christ. True Christianity has nothing at all to do with religion. I know many “religious” people that no more exhibit the love and fruits of the Spirit than a tin can.

Religion has never comforted me in my time of need, the church has never comforted me in my time of need. The knowledge I have when I wake up in the morning, that Christ lives within me and the comfort he gives through the Holy Spirit is what gets me through. That’s the one thing about atheism that I just do not understand. How can you bear to open your eyes in the morning if you do not have that hope and that comfort. In some ways it appears to me that he confuses Christianity with doctrines that do not believe in medical assistance when ill.

His statements on pain being the punishment of sin by God, or that animals and children do not experience pain, is something that is beyond my scope of understanding and nothing that I would attribute to “Christianity”. In his last paragraph he talks about how if his daughter were afflicted he would “seek for her the best help mankind could provide , instead of piously telling her to seek the comfort of God. ” What one of us would not seek out the best treatment for our child? His claims about Christians just holds no validity.

He is making statements about what a Christian does or does not believe without obviously taking the time to research and find out what our true beliefs are. I do not attribute evil or sickness as being “acts of God”. A lot of the illness in the world today could be prevented if we made better choices in our life, how much sleep we get, what nutrients we feed our body, what toxins we take in. In a lot of ways illness has been brought about by free choice. Once again, how can we blame God for everything? Jesus Christ was the ultimate healer, going throughout the land and healing people of their infirmities.

Why would he cause illness? I do not know of even one instance in the Bible where God caused one of his children to become ill. At the very end of this article, McCloskey once again makes an assumption when he talks about religious influences that resist preventative health treatments, and birth control. While there is some area of debate among doctrines for the most part Christians too agree with all of these things. There may be some room for debate over any type of abortion as well as suicide but to lump all of those things in with something as simple as a vaccination or birth control is once again making stereotypical claims.

I have come into contact with people in my life who are either agnostic or atheist and my last and final statement to them is this; “What if you are wrong, and I am right? Who will have the most to lose? If there is no God, then I have lost nothing by my belief in God. If there is a God, as I know there is, and there is life after death and you have not believed then you will spend your life in eternal torment. ” [1] McCloskey, “On Being an Atheist” (64) [2] McCloskey, “On Being an Atheist” (65) [3] Evans and Manis, “Philosophy of Religion”,(67)


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