I know I promised I would stop talking about the CARM atheists on this blog. Still when they prompt something I should give credit where credit is due right? There things have been happening there that prompt this piece. First a poster callign himself "Occam" has been putting up God arguments every day for over a month. He's up to like no 40? Then there's this other guy called "HillyBilly" (well, I didn't name him--I'm still trying to get over "Metacrock") who incredibly argues that God arguments are not effective because of the phil papers survey shows that only about like 18% or so of the Philosophy of religion people are believers. Thus he assumes (1) if you are in philosophy of religion you have read a God argument and (2) you go into that field because you are a believer and thus you are going to dicide belief based upon a God argument. Thus no God argument is very effective. Only 18% believe them and they are probably the stupid ones.
First of all that's not fair to judge a God argument by how many converts it makes. That assumes that the reason for making an argument is to convert people I have never assumed that. I don't think anyone does. There are other reasons to make them I'll get to that in a minute. There's also a tradition in philosophy that Hume and Kant beat the God arguments and in liberal theology its assume Schleiermacher made them unnecessary so there's a large body of philosophers and theologians who don't like God arguments. It's a false assumption to think that philosophy of religion is filled with believers. If you are a believer and you want to make a living off your belief (nothing wrong with that it's a matter doing what you love) you want to be hired by the chruch becuase they are the one's people to talk about how they bleieve in God. The defense department doesn't do it. Private industry doesn't. why would they? You are pretty much need to be hired by the chruch to talk about god for a living; either preach or teach at a seminary. Philosophy of religion is a secular gig. It's not or believers it's not ran by the chruch it's at Sate universities just like religoius studies. It purports to appraoch religion from a nuetral view point and it's not about proving religion is true. Too often those in the field approach religion with animosity and they are there to destroy religion (witness Hector Avalos).
I don't argue to a standard of "proof." When I make a God argument I don't say "this is proof that God exists." There are numerous reasons but the most improtant one is it's not possible to prove something that is beyond empirical data. It's not that God is not real, God is not within the domain of scinece. God is not given in sense data and thus we can't "prove God" empirically. Now that doesn't excluding proving god logcially but I don't even take on that burden because it's unnecessary. I argue to the standard of warranted belief. That is proof that the idea is ratinoal and there's good reason to believe it and that's all we need.
Another reason that I woldnt' argue to prove has to do with the nature of beilef. Or waht I think is the nature of belief, with what I think it means to be a believer. One must give one's life to Christ. that means we come to understand out place in being (the reason we are in being and where we stand as beings) as creatures of Go redeemed by Christ. when we understand that we have to give our lives to Christ. that's a decision of heart. It can't be made by forcing logic on people.
It's too easy to ignore logic or to rationalize it away. You can't prove stuff to people. That's the fallacy the atheist makes you can't assume that you must believe X because the proof for X leads you to belief. No people are far too duplicitous for that. Like the skeptics of Bigfoot says "no one ever sees them." you say "what the 20,000 sightings" O those aren't real. They didn't see them. So the facts disprove the allegation but I refuse to accept the facts. (not doesn't mean I believe in Bigfoot, I believe in logic).
the same happens with skeptics of miracles.
skeptic: Miracles never happen
believer: here are 67 that have been seen and proved by medical records.
skeptic: but they are misconstrued.
believer: prove it
Skeptic: they must have been because miracles don't happen.
people will rationalize anything. We believe what we want to believe.
So what is the purpose of a God argument? There are actually lots of them.
(1) not so much any one argument as the process of making them. The dialectic of arguing them leads us into truth: I am a great fan of the dialectic. Though the give and take, point-counter point of argument one comes to discard aspects of one's position that don't stack up and to adapt in ways needed for answers, that enables us to see around corners and get new concepts and perspectives.
(2) We sharpen our theological understanding in the face of the dialectical process and God arguments are the best source of that.
(3) they warrant bleief. They offer good rational reasons to believe. they detonate the ratinoal nature of belief. they are not proof so that function is limited but it's important.
No one should look to God arguments to brow beat people into the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit still has to guide people and draw them in. Even I'm a big believer in free will I still think that without the drawing power of the Spirit there would be no process of seeking that leads to leap of faith. True belief is is not based upon arguments but upon experience and upon leading. That doesn't mean that argument serves no purpose. It's helping to clear away the clutter so that people can face honestly the calling up the heart.
I want to sidestep the attitude that we need arguments to believe or that one dare not believe something if it's not backed up by empirical data. That's a scam and a propaganda slogan because when atheists say that they turn right around and argue for things for which there is no empirical data, such as multiverse and string theory. We need to get back in touch with the major overview of thought, ideas such as existentialism and phenomenology that enable us to think about ideas from the summit not crunch numbers to set up justifications for ideology. Belief in God will be based as Tillich said, upon understanding the depth of being and our place in it.