Friday, November 22, 2013

Mere Theism and Atheist Apologetics

Continuing to illustrate what I meant by my past post about being a theist first and a Catholic second - intellectually speaking - I offer up this summarized exchange I've had.

Atheist: So you think God created the universe?

Me: The evidence seems to point in that direction, yep.

Atheist: Then who created God?

Me: Well, here are the explanations of why that line of questioning doesn't work.

Atheist: You're just playing word games! That stuff is all complicated and made up by people who didn't know better! It's been disproven!

Me: No, it's not and it hasn't. Here, let me explain the issue from the Thomist arguments to start with, and...

Atheist: This is a load! For all you know your God was created by another God!

Me: ... You know what? For a change of pace, fine. Let's run with that. How the hell does that even help you?

Atheist: What do you mean?

Me: Say for the sake of argument you're right. God could have created the universe, but that god could have been created by another god. And THAT god by another god, on and on and on. How does it help you?

Atheist: Well then Christianity may be false! If that's true, god didn't create everything, another god made him!

Me: Right, I'll even grant that. But so what? You're arguing for atheism, last I checked. Theism's still true, given the truth of your own objection. Now you don't only have one God to deal with, but a potentially infinite number of gods. That's still theism. A strange polytheism, sure. But theism all the same. So what the hell are you getting at here?

Atheist: Well if you admit something could have created god, then it makes no sense to arbitrarily stop and say THIS god is the only god!

Me: Who's arbitrarily stopping? I've only got evidence for the one, so that's where I stop for now. But in principle, in terms of raw possibilities, we can keep right on going. Entertain the possibility of an infinite number of gods. Atheism is still false on your own example. What am I missing here? Where does the atheism come in?

Atheist: Well, it's simpler to just say the universe is all that exists and...

Me: Woah woah. What's this simplicity shit? That wasn't a concern before. How do you know this universe wasn't spawned off another universe? And that one off another still? And if at any point in the chain one of those universes was created by a god, your atheism is false. Theism can suffer an infinite number of gods. Atheism is false if just one exists.

Atheist: But those gods may be evil! They may not even care about us!

Me: Maybe, maybe not. Either way, so what? It's your example, using your logic and assumptions. What, I'm supposed to rule out all the possibilities that are unpalatable? Is that how you arrive at your conclusions? As near as I can tell, you just made your own view even more untenable than it was to begin with - which was, for my money, pretty damn untenable. And I don't accept your underlying logic anyway. You, presumably, do. Sounds like you should start praying and asking for signs. Or maybe mercy.

3 comments:

Heuristics said...

This is the way to do it! Well done.

ebougis said...

For your consideration: http://nearemmaus.com/2010/09/27/paul-k-moser-against-mere-theism/

(Sure wish there were a way to get notifications of replies outside wordpress. Thoughts? When I was on blogger, it was the same problem in reverse.)

-- Codgitator

Crude said...

Man, if I start learning anything about blog software, I'll let you know. I'm in the dark.

I don't see much to comment on with the link. Too short, not much for me to sink my teeth into. Keep in mind that there's a difference between what I'm talking about and Deism. Deism is often offered up as the (frankly) dogmatic belief that God has no interest in us, or has not communicated with us. Mere theism leaves this possibility open.