A Response to HJ McCloskey’s “On Being An Atheist”

by Charles Tinsley

The question of God’s existence has been debated throughout the centuries. There are several arguments for God’s existence that include the cosmological argument and the teleological argument. In light of these, H.J McCloskey wrote an article entitled “On Being an Atheist” in which he says these arguments are false and argues that without definitive proofs, we must dismiss the idea of God entirely and his main objection to the idea of God is the presence of evil in the world[1].  His approach is a repetitious attempt by the atheist community to not only define God, but dismiss Him at the same time. The mere fallacy of this argument is unavoidable.

H.J. McCloskey renames the arguments for God’s existence as the simple term “proofs”. He presents the idea that because the proofs (such as ontological and teleological) lack definitive evidence for God’s existence and should therefore be dismissed[2]. Generally speaking, God cannot technically be definitively proven or disproven by current scientific method. The general idea is that God transcends the capacities of our mental faculties. So for McCloskey to say that proofs should be dismissed is wrong.  Presenting the idea that God is the best explanation for origin and life is surely the best way to go about beginning the teleological and ontological arguments. Consider the following example in the medical field. Often terminal illnesses such as AIDs and cancer take millions of lives every year and we have (so far) been unsuccessful in acquiring medical means to fully combat the illnesses and definitively eradicate the diseases. Does this mean it is impossible to obtain this medical technology? For the scientist, it simply means that there may be a cure, but we have been unsuccessful in finding it.

The same idea holds true with God. Just because we seem to lack definitive “end all” proof of His existence does not mean He does not exist.

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McCloskey presents the following dispute against the cosmological argument: “The mere existence of the world constitutes no reason for believing in such a being.”[3] In response, Evans and Manis present a non-temporal form of the cosmological argument. Their argument is broken down into three components: “Some contingent beings exist. If any contingent beings exist, then a necessary being must exist (because contingent beings require a necessary being as their ultimate cause). Therefore there exists a necessary being (which is the ultimate cause of the existence of contingent beings).”[4] They recognize the issue of saying that an infinite series as evidence to prove a contingent being exists may present the idea that there is no definitive explanation to the cause.

They reference objections to their argument. The first objection is that an atheist may claim the universe has always existed. Manis and Evans respond by saying their approach is sufficient for such a challenge because it makes no claims about the universe’s age and therefore accounts for a universe that may have always existed[5]. The second objection is that if everything does require a cause, then God must require a cause as well…


The Poached Egg ApologeticsA Response to HJ McCloskey’s “On Being An Atheist” | Carry Your Cross



Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and ApologeticsReasonable Faith (3rd Edition): Christian Truth and Apologetics

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian WorldviewPhilosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview


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