Quotable: William Lane Craig

Andy Naselli posts recent article which just came out by William Lane Craig outlining the five arguments for God. I’ve not read through the whole argument yet, but I had to comment on the first paragraph.

It’s perhaps something of a surprise that almost none of the so-called New Atheists has anything to say about arguments for God’s existence. Instead, they do tend to focus on the social effects of religion and question whether religious belief is good for society. One might justifiably doubt that the social impact of an idea for good or ill is an adequate measure of its truth, especially when there are reasons being offered to think that the idea in question really is true. Darwinism, for example, has certainly had at least some negative social influences, but that’s hardly grounds for thinking the theory to be false and simply ignoring the biological evidence in its favor.

It seems to me that Craig is underestimating the force of their argument. Their argument is to criticize Christianity on the basis of taste. It sounds like a pragmatic argument about social impact. But the real point is about a moral/aesthetic argument, which I am calling taste. I think that the average person makes most of his decisions concerning metaphysical beliefs on the basis of moral/aesthetic reasons (taste). I think the New Atheists intuitively get this and attack along these lines. The New Atheism is a movement directed toward average people to be sure.

Let me illustrate, in a recent debate Christopher Hitchens attacked the Bible on the grounds that God’s test of Abraham in sacrificing Isaac was morally reprehensible. Obviously one could ask Hitchens on what does he base this view of morality? But that would be to miss the point. Moral intuitions actually exist whether or not Hitchens can give a basis for them. As with Nietzsche, criticizing Christianity on the basis of taste is precisely the point. What Hitchens fails to see is that Christianity is most beautiful (in a moral sense and otherwise). The reason he fails to see this is because he fails to see how giving over his personal sovereignty to God could be good/beautiful.

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