The incredible disappearing god

You know how people like Armstrong and Eagleton and – well most of the ‘we hate the new atheists’ crowd are always saying that the ‘new’ atheists are clueless and naïve and stupid and wrong to talk about that literal God that is a person who lives in the sky and answers prayers that nobody believes in and that according to Armstrong most people always did not believe in? You know, right? Well somebody forgot to tell philosophers, apparently, because the ones who wrote essays for Philosophers Without Gods talk about that literal God. They don’t talk about the God that is the ground of being, or the God that is a sign for something beyond whatever – they talk about the familiar God: a supernatural person of some kind who made everything and cares about us and is all-powerful and all-knowing and Good. So apparently they’re all clueless and naïve and stupid and wrong too.

Georges Rey, for instance, in “Meta-Atheism: Religious Avowal as Self-Deception”:

I should say roughly what I shall mean by “God.”…What seems to me essential to most conceptions, and is at issue with atheists, is that God is a supernatural, psychological being, that is, a being not subject to ordinary physical limitations but capable of some or other mental state, such as knowing, caring, loving, disapproving – and indeed, at least in Christianity, is eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and necessarily benevolent… (p. 246, italics his)

David Lewis (or Philip Kitcher, who wrote Lewis’s essay from notes and conversation after Lewis’s death) simply takes that God for granted in his “Divine Evil”:

The most ambitious versions of the argument claim that the existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and completely benevolent deity.

And that’s the God that’s at issue pretty much throughout – probably because no one would be motivated to write an article on doing without a sign that points to the transcendent, or “the ground of being.” You’d be finished before you started – “I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean” would cover it, and that’s not an essay. Eaglestrong are being something less than forthright in claiming that that literal God that is omnipotent and watching over us is the God of only about three foolish people who haven’t been paying attention while everyone else switched to the more sophisticated version when Aquinas was in knee-pants. What they say is not correct. The facts are otherwise.

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