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The Six Ways of Atheism: Way the Sixth

The final Way of Atheism from Geoffrey Berg is the Some of God’s Defining Qualities Cannot Exist argument.  After tackling this argument, three things remain with this project.

First, I will contact Geoffrey Berg via his website to see if he is interested in rebutting my points.

Second, I want to reread the Fifth Way just to see if there are any points I missed.

Finally, I will start replying to the comments I’ve received thus far on all Six Ways.

All right, Mr. Berg, so far the arguments are stinkers.  One final shot: impress me…

  1. God must have certain characteristic qualities (such as providing purpose to life), otherwise he would not be God.
  2. But it is impossible for any entity to possess some of these qualities (such as providing purpose for life since we can find no real purpose and therefore in practice we have no ultimate purpose to our lives) that are essential to God.
  3. Therefore since some of God’s essential qualities (such as being the purpose provider to life) cannot possibly exist in any entity, God cannot exist.

I agree with (1).

Ooooh… I have to take some exception with (2).

On pages 156-157, Berg outlines that there is no purpose to life based on the fact that he’s never gotten a good answer from a theist.  That’s a terrible reason to conclude that there is no purpose for life.

The answer, I think, lies in two prongs.  First, we exist because God has purposed an outcome to this universe and we are to play a role in it.  As Isaiah points out, God has declared the end from the beginning (Is 46:10).  Human history is building to a final outcome purposed by and brought about by God.  We are agents of that by God’s design.

We do not know what ultimate part we play, and that leads us to the second reason we exist:  the journey of discovery that is life.  This journey becomes the foundation for our eternity.  If life on earth is a geometric plane, then life in eternity is geometric space.  If our life takes the shape of a circle, then in eternity it will inevitably be a sphere.

Which means that we need to take the time to investigate what it means to live a “good life.”  Because the foundation we are laying now determines the shape of our lives to come.  The foundation is irreversible; we want to lay the best one we can, and that means living right by God’s standards.

As Berg says, “to worship God” isn’t a very good reason to exist.  It is part of what we are to do, but it isn’t the end of the story.  God created the first humans to tend the Garden of Eden — to superintend and care for creation.  We perverted our own purpose when we first chose to disobey God, but the corruption of a thing shouldn’t be confused with the thing.  Meaning, we should recapture our original purpose by realizing that life is (as Berg points out) about the journey as much as the destination.

And, keeping with the superintendence idea, leave the Earth a little better than we found it.

None of this, of course, is possible apart from God.  And that renders premise (2) faulty.  Meaning (3) is not a correct conclusion.

Now, essentially, I’ve left the purpose of life open for each individual to find his or her own.  In so doing, I have actually made an objection that Berg anticipates; though he phrases it quite differently.  His basic answer to reassert that there is no ultimate purpose for life, even if you’re searching.  Berg gives the general objection that each purpose one finds leads one to ask what the purpose of that purpose is.

To that, I remind everyone that there is no need to explain an explanation.  If we would have concluded that the purpose of life is to have kids, then that’s the purpose of life.  Asking, “Why have kids?” is redundant because it’s the purpose of life.

Showing that the purpose of this life is to lay a foundation for an eternal existence, however, does not fall prey to the infinite regress of asking “For what purpose?”  If I’m right, there is no need to ask for additional clarification because starting eternity off right is an end in and of itself.

UPDATED

  • September 25, 2012 @ 10:45pm: Added the proper citation from Isaiah.
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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on September 22, 2012, in Apologetics, Atheist Books, God and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I think this argument is sound.

    The argument argues that proponents of “There is reason(purpose) for which our lives exist” have not met their burden of proof.

    In this article Cory Tucholski, you have asserted that “The is reason(purpose) for which our lives exist is X”. Or perhaps Y. I might assert that it is Z. The author of Hebrews might assert that it is A. The author of Al-Mumtahina might assert that it is B. The author of the Ramayana might assert that it is C. The author of The Secret might assert that it is D.

    But none of these people have taken any steps toward meeting theior burden of proof. So the argument remains sound.

    • But that doesn’t mean there is NO purpose for life.

      To steal and slightly modify an example from William Lane Craig, let’s pretend that I’m talking to you, Edward Cullen, and Gordon Gekko.

      You tell me that I need to invest my money in Sun Microsystems stock because they invented Java and that really took off, you know I regret not doing so when the stock was cheap shortly after they launched Java and it skyrocketed, and you know they’re due for other great ideas based on the prospectus you read.

      I’m not convinced that’s the best stock.

      So Edward Cullen tells me that he’s been around for over a century and has seen many stocks rise and fall. His experience and inherent patience has taught him to start with penny stocks of companies that are sound and appear to have longevity. If I can live as long as he, then I will be rich!

      I’m not letting him chew on my neck. Kristen Stewart, maybe.

      Then, Gordon Gekko tells me to invest in ABC Corp. He can’t tell me why, just that he has a really good “feeling,” and I catch his drift.

      I want no part of that illegal move.

      Three stock options, three arguments rooted in the experience and skill set of the arguer. I don’t buy any of them, personally. They don’t persuade me.

      Based on this experience, I am NOT justified to conclude that there isn’t a One Best Stock. I might decide the stock market isn’t for me and not play it. Just that I don’t buy the arguments of you or two fictional antiheroes. That’s acceptable — the market works for them; I will need to find my own investment strategy.

      You don’t buy my contention of what the Meaning of Life is. Fine. My argument isn’t the same as other Christians’, but you don’t buy theirs, either. Nor do you buy Buddhist or Hindi or Muslim arguments. But based on that, you CANNOT conclude that there is NO meaning of life to be found, only that you haven’t found it yet.

      Now, if you’re prepared to argue that there is NO meaning of life, it requires more than objecting to what is already presented. It requires its own argument and proof. But that’s not being done here; only the objecting and that’s supposed to lead me to the “conclusion” there is no meaning to life.

  2. You are asserting that it exists and it is A.

    Then it seems you are asserting that it definitely exists even though we don’t know the specific details; whether it is A or B or C or D or…

    In either case, you are just asserting that it exists.

    To demonstrate that something exists, you’re going to have to do better than merely insisting that it does.

    • I provided my take on the meaning of life. I provided my reasons for saying why I think that’s what it is.

      You don’t buy it.

      From that, you CANNOT jump to the conclusion there is NO meaning to life.

      That’s my point.

  1. Pingback: Featuring the Christian Apologetics Alliance – Thinking Christian

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