This is a long section of the book and it is a topic I enjoy discussing so I have no desire to squeeze it all into one blog. Loftus tells us early in this chapter why he and other atheists do not believe in God. The first idea is that it is incoherent. As Loftus says, “There is simply too much intense suffering in this world for there to be a good creator.” (p. 86) This will be dealt with when we get to the chapter on the Problem of Evil.
The next complaint is that it inhibits scientific progress (Even though Christian theism historically has been the main motivator of it), creates class struggles, (Does it, or do people who misuse Christianity do it?) sexism, (Even though it has been one of the main reasons women are considered equals today ontologically.) racism, (Even though the same applies to the races as to women.) mass neurosis, (This one I’d really like to see the documentation for.) intolerance, (I’d like to see the definition) and environmental disasters. (Which one?)
Of course, as Loftus says and rightfully so, all of these don’t really matter in light of the one question, “does God exist?” Loftus, and I agree, says that if he exists, then if Christianity is true and it is a crutch for the weak, then it is because we need a crutch. If God exists, then the acts of people like Sartre (And I’d include Loftus. He leaves himself out.) are downright rebellion.
So let’s look at the arguments.
The first is the Ontological argument. I’m probably a rarity in the Christian community, but I do like this argument. It’s one I think about often. It seems that for anyone who studies the issue seriously, this is one of those arguments you just can’t ignore. Either it’s embraced wonderfully it seems or it’s cast aside as nonsense. Still, everyone seems to know that there’s something odd about it. The following is a link to a brief description of the Ontological Argument of Anselm.
There is also this from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Now I would recommend the reader at least learn the argument because from here on, I’m going to be assuming a basic understanding.
The first question will be do any of the ideas of God contradict? An example is given of omnipotence and omniscience. However, this is just a reference. Without anything solid being given, we cannot make a statement. Loftus points us to Kenny’s book “The God of the Philosophers”, but it would have been nice to have seen an argument.
In discussing open theism briefly, we are brought to the point of realizing we believe in a timeless and spaceless being. This is presented as an unintelligible, but good grief why? While I cannot comprehend it, I do not see it as unintelligible, and I’m not even sure what he really means by that. I see the laws of logic as timeless and spaceless. I see the objective moral law as timeless and spaceless. Why not God?
The objection is raised about Anselm’s fool. Would the greatest being a fool can think of be the same as a philosopher or an Einstein? How about even God himself?
My thought though is that I don’t think that’s Anselm’s main point. He’s saying that we know that there is some idea of a greater being than we can conceive. This ultimately reaches a greatest that we can conceive. Even if we do not know all about this being, we know that God is from it. Now we may not be yet to the Trinitarian God, but that wasn’t the point of these arguments in the medieval period. They were simply to get to God.
Now we have the question from John Hick about what to say to an Easterner. My reply would be that the ONE as they would call it, would be personal instead of non-personal as in Eastern religions. I would then take them to Scripture and other evidences to show the kind of God I believe in.
Hick also speaks of Plantinga’s work on this and says the same could apply to a being of maximum evil. I don’t believe this approach would work though seeing as evil is a lack and we cannot speak of a being having an ultimate lack of good. Such a being could not exist as to ultimately lack good would be to ultimately lack existence.
My opinion? The ontological argument I think has some merit and it’s worth discussing. Even if you don’t accept it, there’s still something to be learned from it. Tomorrow, we’ll go into the Cosmological Arguments.