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Mckloskey's "On Being An Atheist" Essay

1844 words - 8 pages

A response to H.J. McCloskey's Article, "On Being an Atheist"
In 1968 H.J. McCloskey wrote an article to his fellow atheists entitled "On Being an Atheist".  His purposes for writing this article were to inform other atheists of the supposed inadequacies of theists' belief in God, and to address accusations that the position of atheism is "cold" and "comfortless”. The author intends to show that in fact, it is theism that is the cold and comfortless position to hold. 
Mr. McCloskey is undoubtedly an intelligent and thoughtful man.  His article was written in an easy to understand syntax, and was surely embraced by many that hold a similar position.  In fact, I think that any Christian ...view middle of the document...

  I actually agree with that statement, however this argument is meant only to show the necessity of a First Cause. McCloskey is never quite clear on whether he believes in a First Cause, but as an evolutionist, I assume he does, just so long as the First Cause is not God.
Where the cosmological argument succeeds in revealing the necessity of a First Cause, the teleological argument is meant to show that this First Cause is a personal intelligence. The teleological argument focuses on the order and apparent design that we witness in the universe as evidence of an intelligent Creator.  McCloskey accuses those who hold this view as people who “know nothing about evolution”. It seems as if the author has not bothered to ask any number of Christian scientists or molecular biologists to explain why they can still believe in a God, even in light of all they have undoubtedly had to learn in college.  He further states that, “To get the proof going, genuine, indisputable examples of design or purpose are needed.” This is something that the evolutionist himself cannot do.  One only needs to mention the problem with the fossil record or problems with abiogenesis.  Neither of these critical areas in evolutionary theory has produced an indisputable example.  The fact is, evolution has many problems, too many to get into here, but even if macro-evolution were true, and it is the only mechanism responsible for the apparent order that we see all around us, there still lies the problem of the origin of the mechanism.  If evolution operates on natural laws, where did the laws come from?  As McCloskey attacks these two arguments, he never really offers any details about how his position better explains reality.  Only that the theists’ explanations are wrong.
All of McCloskey’s arguments really boil down to the problem of evil.  It is clear that this is his strongest objection to the existence of a perfect God.   It is most theists’ position that God is a perfect being.  How then do we explain then existence of evil?  This is a legitimate question, and one that many theists themselves have struggled with.  I will not attempt to solve the problem of evil here due to my lack of scholarship on the issue and the nature of this paper, but I will show that McCloskey’s argument is flawed and largely fueled I suspect, by emotional objections rather that totally rational ones.  I will also offer some suggestions as to why God would allow evil, but they will in no way be meant to answer all objections with absolute certainty.
McCloskey argues more than once in his paper about the unfair conditions in this world particularly concerning the suffering of innocent people and animals.  He uses this fact not only to totally deny God’s existence, but also to attempt to show that if he did exist, he would be either a malevolent God or a well-intentioned, yet incompetent one.  McCloskey’s logic goes like this: If a good God allows evil, then he himself is evil, if He is unable to...

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