[RESPONSE PAPER] | McCloskey Article |
This paper is an analytical response to the article, titled “On Being an Atheist,” that was written by H. J. McCloskey in 1968 for the journal Question. The assignment for this paper asked many questions which require responses based on the views of McCloskey in contrast to different philosophical arguments of religion. Such arguments include the Cosmological Argument, Teleological Argument and the Problem of Evil. The paper will also include responses to other statements made by McCloskey about the existence of God overall and his role with the Universe contrasting with Atheism and Theism.
McCloskey refers to the arguments as “proofs” and often implies that they can’t definitively establish the case for God, so therefore they should be abandoned. One point to be made on McCloskey’s statement is that God is viewed as the best explanation for the affects we observe in our Universe. This means that, although we cannot see God and all the affects of what he has created, does not mean that he does not exist. As pointed out in the lesson, there are many other scientific theories, with very solid arguments, in which we cannot see but which most people have accepted. This is where the basis formed to build the arguments on the creation and beginning of the Universe and the creator itself. When referring to each of the philosophical arguments, it is made clear that it is not as plausible to be able to have a strong and solid argument for the existence of God with each argument on its own. Rather, you would need to make a cumulative case. A cumulative case would be able to bring the three main philosophical arguments together, using the strongest parts of each, and build one independent type of argument for the existence of God that would then be much harder to argue against. The three main arguments that would be included would consist of the Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument and the Moral Argument.
The Article of topic has many views on the Cosmological Argument. McCloskey claims that the “mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in such a being [i.e. a necessarily existing being].” The basis of my explanation in response to this statement is pulled from Evans’ discussion of contingency. This explains that there needs to be a reason for why there is something rather than nothing. The non-temporal form of the Cosmological Argument does not dictate when the Universe began; it makes no difference to the argument if the Universe is new, old or has always existed. Therefore, if the Universe has, in fact, always existed and is said by McCloskey to be necessary and have no cause, then the question has to be asked, why is there a Universe instead of nothing? Further into Evans’ discussion, it is explained that if objects and the Universe may not have otherwise existed, then we need a reason for why they were created. With that being said, with the existence of a contingent Universe, there has to be a necessary being as the cause of its existence. A necessary being is explained to be a being that cannot fail to exist and is the cause of all other existence. The only explanation provided for contingent beings, being the Universe, is if there is a necessary cause for their existence, which is stated as being God. If one decides to accept the Cosmological Argument, they are agreeing to the acceptance that there is a God in a sense. McCloskey states that the Cosmological Argument, “does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause.” McCloskey is correct to make this statement because in no way does the Cosmological Argument make any statements about the necessary elements to explain God, only simply the existence of a necessary being. Therefore, anyone willing to accept the Cosmological Argument would need to continue their research in order to gain a clear understanding of the necessary being that is being spoken