Friday, 10 January 2014

The Week - "Memo to atheists - God's not dead yet"

In this article in "The Week", it's suggested that there is an argument for God that atheists haven't dealt with.  I could not resist a look:

"But, of course, the major world religions don’t view God in this way at all. They treat God, instead, as the transcendent source, the ground, or the end of the natural world. And that is an enormous — actually, an infinite — difference."

"The deeper reason why theism can’t be rejected, according to Hart, is that every pursuit of truth, every attempt to be good, every longing for beauty presupposes the existence of some idea of truth, goodness, and beauty from which these particular instances are derived. And these transcendental ideas unite in the classical concept of God, who simply is truth, goodness, and beauty. That’s why, although it isn’t necessary to believe in God in some explicit way in order to be good, it certainly is the case (in Hart’s words) "that to seek the good is already to believe in God, whether one wishes to do so or not.""

This is, as expected, nonsense.  To deal with the first point, we have no reason to believe that the natural world has a "ground" or needs a "transcendent source".  There certainly can be no evidence for such a thing, and because there can be no evidence, there is nothing in human experience that can justifiably lead to a believe in such a "ground".  It's nothing but digging up outdated Aristotelian ideas of the cosmos yet again.

The second statement is logical nonsense, as it attempts to reify abstractions.  To say that God "is" truth, goodness, beauty is nothing but waffle.  One might just as well say that atheists can't reject God because God IS smell, and so anyone who searches for an odour is already seeking God.

Such arguments for God are full of category errors, assuming that abstractions are real and require some "source", without (of course) ever describing how being a source of such abstractions is supposed to actually work - does God have to concentrate really hard to be a source of goodness?

Finally, the God that is described here is nothing like the Gods believed in by billions.  A vague grounding of reality cannot be the Father In Heaven, or the Forgiver of Sins - there can be no justification for belief in prayer, miracles, or an afterlife.

What is described here isn't a theistic God, and it's not really anything at all.

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