Specifically, you should address the following questions in your paper:
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. What would you say about this in light of Foreman’s comments in his “Approaching the Question of God’s Existence” presentation?
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].” Using Evans and Manis’ discussion of the non-temporal form of the argument (on pp. 69–77), explain why the cause of the universe must be necessary (and therefore uncaused).
McCloskey also claims that the cosmological argument “does not entitle us to postulate an all-powerful, all-perfect, uncaused cause.” In light of Evans and Manis’ final paragraph on the cosmological argument (p. 77), how might you respond to McCloskey?
On the Teleological Argument:
McCloskey claims that “to get the proof going, genuine indisputable examples of design and purpose are needed.” Discuss this standard of “indisputability” which he calls a “very conclusive objection.” Is it reasonable?
From your reading in Evans and Manis, can you offer an example of design that, while not necessarily “indisputable,” you believe provides strong evidence of a designer of the universe?
McCloskey implies that evolution has displaced the need for a designer. Assuming evolution is true, for argument’s sake, how would you respond to McCloskey (see Evans and Manis pp. 82–83)?
McCloskey claims that the presence of imperfection and evil in the world argues against “the perfection of the divine design or divine purpose in the world.” Remembering Evans and Manis’ comments about the limitations of the cosmological argument, how might you respond to this charge by McCloskey?
On the Problem of Evil:
McCloskey’s main objection to theism is the presence of evil in the world and he raises it several times: “No being who was perfect could have created a world in which there was avoidable suffering or in which his creatures would (and in fact could have been created so as not to) engage in morally evil acts, acts which very often result in injury to innocent persons.” The language of this claim seems to imply that it is an example of the logical form of the problem. Given this implication and using Evans and Manis’ discussion of the logical problem (pp. 159–168, noting especially his concluding paragraphs to this section), how might you respond to McCloskey?
McCloskey specifically discusses the free will argument, asking “might not God have very easily so have arranged the world and biased man to virtue that men always freely chose what is right?” From what you have already learned about free will in the course, and what Evans and Manis says about the free will theodicy, especially the section on Mackie and Plantinga’s response (pp. 163–166) and what he says about the evidential problem (pp. 168–172), how would you respond to McCloskey’s question?
On Atheism as Comforting:
a. In the final pages of McCloskey’s article, he claims that atheism is more comforting than theism. Using the argument presented by William Lane Craig in the article “The Absurdity of Life without God,” (located in Reading & Study for Module/Week 6), respond to McCloskey’s claim.
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