Response to “On Being an Atheist” By: Casandra Privette In his article, On Being an Atheist, H. J. McCloskey tried to show that atheism is a more reasonable and comfortable belief than that of Christianity. McCloskey argued against the three theistic proofs, which are the cosmological argument, the teleological argument and the argument from design. He pointed out the existence of evil in the world that God made. He also pointed out that it is irrational to live by faith.
In my response, I will argue that McCloskey’s article is one-sided and thus flawed in his conclusion that atheism is more comforting than Christianity and when one examines all the evidence, Christianity is truly a source for great comfort today. McCloskey argued that the cosmological argument was an argument from the existence of the world, as we know it. He stated that believing in an uncaused first cause of the universe is a problem because nothing about our universe forces us to that conclusion.
I disagree with that premise. Many philosophers, from Plato to Aquinas, have argued that regardless of whether the universe had a beginning moment or has always been in existence that God is the necessary cause of the universe. Many argue that everything in the universe is contingent and that if contingent things exist; they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause. Therefore this necessary being is God. I believe that every cause and be traced back to a first cause: God.
McCloskey grouped the teleological argument and the argument from design together and summarily rejected them both by suggesting that mankind does not yet have a full understanding about creation. He offers the theory of evolution as the explanation of many examples of creation that would have once been explained by the teleological and argument from design. I disagree with McCloskey’s rejection of the argument from design. The theory of evolution does not automatically negate the teleological argument or the argument from design.
Even if the theory of evolution were proven true scientifically, which hasn’t happened, a necessary being, such as God, most certainly could have created the process of evolution. God is all-powerful and can create something from nothing at His will. This was true in the Bible when God created Adam from dust and Eve from Adam’s rib. This could have also been true if God chose to use evolution as His means of creating the universe, which I don’t believe he did. The teleological argument begins from the fact that that the natural world appears to exhibit orders and designs and therefore there must be an intelligent designer.
The philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, claimed that many entities in nature act for an end. Examples of this fact are animals, which are self-regulating. They have a will to survive in nature and the skills necessary for this survival. Man’s complex organ structure is another example of the work of an intelligent designer. It is impossible to explain the existence of these wonderful creations as happenstance cell mutation. After all, scientifically speaking, when cell mutation occurs, the results are usually not positive. They result in weaker, defective cells being produced.
If man is more complicated than a monkey, how can this be a rational argument? McCloskey also went to great lengths to point out the existence of evil in the world that God made. He indicated that the existence of a perfect all-powerful God and the existence of evil in the world are mutually exclusive. He also stated that Christians couldn’t find comfort in a God that allows or causes so much evil. As a Christian, I am able to find comfort in God, regardless of the existence of evil in the world. I do not blame God for allowing the evil to happen. He gave Adam and Eve free will in the Garden of Even and they sinned.
The first evil that was brought into the world was through that sin, not God. I believe that a God that didn’t offer free will to man would lack perfection. We must choose the correct path, or we would not ever experience true joy in life. God allows us to choose for ourselves, and there are consequences to our choices. Some cause us great pain and some great joy. I would not trade the painful moments for all the joy in the world, for they make me stronger in my faith and my walk with Him. Only a perfect God would give us the opportunity to walk away from Him and pursue our own desires and then find our way back.
I do not know why evil exists in the world, but I do feel that there are reasons for it beyond my understanding. When natural evils occur, it is comforting to have faith in God. I believe that sometimes God allows natural evil to occur to remind us that He is in control and that we must trust in Him for our security and to not trust in the world itself. As for the problem of the moral evil in the world, I don’t believe anyone would justify the actions of people such as Hitler. I do not blame God for the actions of these people, however. We are given choices and those choices are ours alone.
Hitler chose his actions independent of the will of God. While these actions were certainly atrocious, there must have been unknown reasons that God allowed them to occur. I have faith in the knowledge that one day I’ll sit at the throne of Jesus and it will be made known to me. McCloskey also pointed out that it is irrational for people to live by faith in an unseen, unknown God. He suggested that having faith in a friend who has shown honor and integrity in the past is rational, while having faith in a God that we have no solid evidence proving his alleged good works and his perfect presence.
He stated that from what we know of God through his alleged works, it couldn’t be concluded that God is perfect. In fact, to have faith in God is both irrational and foolish. To future his argument, McCloskey again goes to the existence of evil in the world. I do not feel that the mere existence of evil in the world is enough to say that having faith is irrational. The existence of evil in the world is what requires me to have faith in God. It would be impossible to face the many challenges of this world without faith in God.
In my darkest hours, there has always been a beacon of light just ahead of me lighting the path. Sometimes my faith has been diminished and I felt alone and hopeless in this dark world. Not once have I ever felt alone when I have trusted in Jesus. With Him, I have been able to face the many challenges that lie before me and have been encouraged to go on. I do not know what could possibly motivate an atheist to go on when times are the darkest. I have been in the darkest hours with and without God in my life.
I have learned that trusting in Him makes much more sense that trying to handle to problems of the world on my own. People without faith have no one to hold him or her up when the world is weighting them down, except for themselves. Christians have learned that they cannot lean upon themselves, but God for support. The fact that God allows the evil to occur is not sufficient reason to say that it is irrational to have faith. I also do not consider it less reasonable that one should have faith in God than in an old friend. To me, God is the oldest most trusted friend a person could have. In conclusion, H. J.
McCloskey’s article, On Being an Atheist, attacked three theistic arguments; pointed out the existence of evil in the world and how irrational it is to have faith in God. McCloskey did not consider the evidence that would show that his claims false. He only considered his own points of view; to further his own agenda is the continued survival and growth of atheism. McCloskey failed to present a clear picture of the Christian truths. The truths that were detailed in the Holy Bible. He did not address the origin of man in Genesis in the Old Testament, nor the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
He also did not take into account that typical Christians are not philosophers who base their beliefs on theistic proofs. Typical Christians base their faith in Jesus and the knowledge that He came and died for our sins. Christians also accept the existence of evil in the world as a need for faith in God, not as a proof that God is not perfect or does not exist. Atheists have no one to comfort them in this world except for themselves when things are hard. I’m glad to know that Jesus is my rock, my Comforter, my Salvation.