I read a very fun item yesterday, thanks to a reader who sent me the link. It’s on a site called, with disarming simplicity, Atheism is False. It has a long list of names under the title “Answering Critics”; I look forward to reading each one, because they should be entertaining. “Answering Critics” is an oddly misleading title, since it implies that each item actually answers critics when in fact, judging by the one I’ve read so far, each item disagrees with people who wrote something that has nothing to do with Atheism is False or its author, David Reuben Stone. The one I’ve read so far is about Me, and my essay in 50 Voices of Disbelief. It’s not very convincing.
Benson’s brief discussion is misplaced from the very beginning. Benson claims that the definition of “God” includes the belief that God is a supernatural being about whom no one knows anything (p. 23).
No, that’s not quite right, I say that’s a tacit part of the definition of god. The claim is also, of course, slightly facetious, in the way the whole essay is. I think that aspect may have escaped David Reuben Stone’s notice. He goes on earnestly to explain that I have it all wrong.
In response, there is no reason to accept that all theists believe that no one knows anything about God. Quite the contrary. Most theists appear to claim to have knowledge of the nature of God, at least to some extent.
Oh I know that – I know most theists appear to claim to have knowledge of the nature of God, at least to some extent. Notice all the qualifications, and how they inadvertently agree with exactly what I said (or implied): people claim to have knowledge about god, sort of, but in fact they don’t. That.was.the.point.
Benson fails to respond to the compelling basis for justification of theistic belief as outlined in my latest updated defense of theism in David Reuben Stone (2010), The Loftus Delusion: Why Atheism Fails and Messianic Israelism Prevails, Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press.
I laughed when I read that, but figured it was a mistake in phrasing – he didn’t actually mean to say I failed to respond specifically to his latest updated defense of theism. Reading on, though, I realized he meant exactly that. He’s right: I failed to respond to it, on account of how I hadn’t read it. (Not surprisingly, since I wrote the essay in 2008.)
…the Benson quote in the above paragraph might even more accurately be interpreted such that Benson chooses to reject God not due to insufficient evidence, but due to Benson’s frustration that God has chosen to reveal Himself with a measure of hiddenness. It’s like this: “God, you didn’t do what I wanted you to do, so even though you exist, I reject you anyway.” In response, it’s not our place as creatures to tell the Creator what to do or how to do it.
Oh yes it is. That too is my point. Yes it damn well is. Yes if god made us and made everything the way it is, it damn well is our place to tell god, “hey this sucks in a million ways, you fiendish bastard.” This business of saying “god is god because god is god and we have no right to say the service stinks” is slavish and anti-human, and I despise it. Stone’s response is the very idea I’m attacking.
Also, is God really hidden? It could be that God is actually maximally revealed, given the nature of the reality of our world. In fact, my ACPO metaphysics establishes that all physical events (including all physical events described by the laws of physics) not caused by human persons are caused by God. It folows that we see evidence of God’s existence every day, with every rising of the sun, with every falling rain drop, with every beat of one’s heart. God’s existence is plainly evident to those willing to see it. Sadly, light has gone out into the world, but those who are evil choose to reject that light and remain in darkness.
One, sure, it could be, but there’s no reason to think so, and plenty of reason not to. And nothing follows from a “could be” like that, so it certainly doesn’t follow that we see evidence of God’s existence every day, with every fart of the dog. Two, note that he called me evil.
Benson assumes God makes no personal appearances (p. 25). No proof of this claim is provided.
Benson assumes God sends no authenticated messages (p. 25). Again, no proof is provided.
Burden of proof, amigo.
Benson thinks it is “too convenient” that a limited measure of knowledge of the nature of God could be possessed by those who do not fully understand God’s ways (p.25). In response, there is no reason to presuppose a possibly existing God would not choose to reveal Himself such that a limited measure of knowledge of the nature of God could be possessed by those who do not fully understand God’s ways. Thus, we should not immediately reject this possibility because it is “too convenient”. Rather, we should investigate the nature of the case for possibly existing Gods who might choose to provide divine revelation in this way. Benson’s “too convenient” response is a poor excuse for failing to properly analyze the case for theism as justified in my latest book.
That’s the part where I realized he really did mean I hadn’t responded to him, specifically, not just to claims that he and others make. So something I said is a poor excuse for not responding to something written after I wrote the piece in which I didn’t respond. (Plus the part about not responding because I’d never heard of him or his book.)
Benson refers to lack of evidence for God’s existence (p. 26), but fails to respond to my case for theism. Thus, we may conclude that Benson’s analysis is now obsolete and unjustified.
I love that.
(And who’s “we,” bub?)
We may agree with Benson that it is good to reject a God who wants us to reject proper methods of critical inquiry (p. 26). However, the case for theism may be made consistent with this rejection. That is, we may establish the existence of God via critical inquiry. So, Benson has failed to justify rejection of theistic belief.
Benson claims a possibly existing God has no right to blame people who reject theism (p. 27). In response, proponents of Benson’s position now have no right to blame God for a lack of theistic evidence, given their knowledge of my case for theism justified in Stone (2010).
See why I look forward to reading more?