A while back I started a thread concerning the book Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith, I think it got deleted after the servers went down. It has been a year since I read this book, which caused me severe doubt and spiritual turmoil, and I have grown by leaps and bounds since then. I have developed a deep love of Philosophy have studied it a lot closer than ever before. At this point, my studies have made it clear to me that Smith’s book is full of problems on various fronts. Not least of which is the charicature of the First Cause argument. Though there are still points where I could use some further enlightenment. So I’d appreciate anyone with background in Philosophy or Theology to comment on the following objections.
Natural Theology: Smith asserts the following, “To posit the supernatural explains nothing; it merely asserts the futility of explanation…For the atheist, the universe-the totality of existence-is a metaphysical primary and, as such, cannot require an explanation. The natural, knowable universe provides the context in which all explanations are possible, so to demand an exlanation for the universe itself is epistemelogically absurd…Man cannot explain the existence of nature, because any attempted explanation logically presupposes the existence of nature. If removed from the framework of the natural universe, the concept of explanationis stripped of meaning. The universe does not exist for a reason at all; it simply exists…All arguments of natural theology fail, and though they vary in details, they fail for the same basic reason. The structure of each argument entails an inference from the natural to the supernatural-which, in terms of human knowledge, means an inference from the k nowable to the unkowable…Naturalism has the priority over supernaturalism, not because it is the more economical of two explanations, but because it is the only framework in which explanation is possible…the contest between naturalism and supernaturalism is not a battle between two rival modes of explanation, in which naturalism is selected because it is a better or more economical mode of explanation. Rather, naturalism is selected because it is the only possible method of explanation. Naturalism is the only context in which the concept of explanation has meaning.”
Design: Smith further states: "The crux of the teleological argument-and its fundamental error-lies in the assumption that order presupposes concious design (where “order” refers to the regularity in nature). This is demonstrably false. It is true that order exists in the universe, that there is regularity in nature, that entities will behave in the same way under the same circumstances-but it is not valid to infer from this the existence of any master designer. On the contrary, order is simply the manifestation of causality, and causality is a derivative, a logical corollary, of the Law of Identity. To exist is to exist as something, and to be something is to possess specific, determinate characteristics. In other words, every existing thing has identity: it is what it is and not something else. To say that something has determinate characteristics is to say that it has a limited nature, and these limits necessarily restrict its range of possible actions. The nature of an enity determines what it can do in a given set of circumstances…It is a mistake to confuse “order” with “design.” If there is design in nature, there must be a designer, but the same is not true of order. Order does not presuppose an orderer; it is simply entailed by the nature of existence itself…Once we accept the fact of existence, we must also accept the fact that things are what they are (identity), and that they behave as they do in virtue of what they are (causality). The theists choice between chance and design is a false alternative. Because the order of nature is not the result of planning, it does not follow that it is the consequence of mere “chance.” Metaphysically speaking, there is no such tning as “chance.” Occurences do not “just happen” inexplicably, without causes. We speak of “chance” when we are unaware of all relavent factors…The concept of chance is epistemological, not metaphysical. The real alternative facing us in design in the design argument is between natural necessity and supernatural caprice. According to the naturalist, the universe exhibits order because order is one aspect of existence; the two are inseperable.
I realize these selections are a bit dense, but they are some of his more reasonable objections. If anyone can comment on these, or perhaps those who’ve read the whole book can provide some assistence. :coffeeread: