A strategic response to: “You believe in a MAGIC being (who does miracles magically)
by Blake Giunta
Some atheists insist that “Theism is ridiculous; God is a magical being, like Santa Claus. In this sense God resembles an invisible pink unicorn, or a flying spaghetti monster, and performs miracles, which are magical.”1 This is a staple complaint from New Atheists in particular, and their figureheads.2 When you encounter it as an apologist, consider using one of the following two strategies:
Ignore it and focus on arguments. In the end, they often just want to (rudely) initimate God is kooky from their perspective as naturalists. Say:
“I think that maybe, when you say God is magical, that you’re just communicating that theism seems silly to you. But, if you can do that, then people can just as easily dismiss atheism or evolution when it seems silly to them. (It’s like when an ignorant creationists mockingly says “you believe we came from monkeys!”) I think it’s prudent to set aside our feelings about what is ridiculous, and look at the actual arguments. Do you have one you’d like to go over? If not, I have a few for my position that I could present to you.”
Ask them for their precise definition of magic (get it on the table).
Offer your definition of magic.
“It seems to me that, in stories with magic, the magic is always supposed to be part of nature. Yeah, it’s a weird part or hidden part of nature, but magic is still always represented as being part of nature. They are always law-governed in some way or another, which is why you have to chant or work the magic in specific locations, and often it is a commodity that you can run out of. God, by contrast, is supernatural, and so not subject to any natural laws. So, if there were magic in the world, God could eliminate it or entirely re-write all the magical laws.”
Finish by offering better alternatives.
“Maybe you just mean God is weird and non-scientific? Or perhaps you mean there is no mechanism behind God’s actions and miracles.”
Unless your interlocutor is just wanting to be insulting, normally it is the oddity of God that is the fundamental issue for the naturalist; that is the challenge he is really wanting to raise, and that challenge has not been addressed simply by establishing that God is not technically magical…
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