Friday, January 26, 2007

God Doesn’t Exist, States Leading Theologian

So-called ‘people of faith’ take great delight making appeals to authority, but particularly when the ‘authority’ in question is someone who has left what might be termed the ‘atheist camp’ to go over, like some common betrayer of principle, to that of the theists. It always delights me, therefore, when I can find one of their own who comes out with Delphic pronouncements that confound the majority views held by their fellow theists.

One such august personage is Brian Davies, who is a member of the Dominican Order of Preachers and Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University, which styles itself as ‘The Jesuit University of New York’. Professor Davies’ impressive CV can be found here.

In a recent article in ’The Times’, Professor Davies stated, inter alia:

Traditionally speaking, therefore, it makes sense to say both that God does not exist and that only God exists, which means we should be careful when it comes to what we mean when we declare ourselves atheists or not. And there is surely a further sense in which all Jews, Muslims, and Christians can be thought of as atheists. For they do not believe there are any gods. They believe there is a Creator of all things visible and invisible, not that there is a class of gods to which the Creator belongs. The first of the Ten Commandments tells us to have no gods. It effectively tells us to be atheists, to stop being interested in extremely powerful creatures and to focus instead on the unfathomable mystery behind and within the world that we can, to some extent, fathom. God the maker of all things cannot be a part of what He brings forth. He belongs to no category. He is not a god. There are no gods.
So there you have it folks, and straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. So, confound your fundie friends with that! The Decalogue commands you to be an atheist!

Davies’ main thrust appear to be that ‘God’ is not part of the existential universe, but that is not synonymous with saying that ‘God’ does not exist, since the absence of evidence is not, de facto, evidence of absence. Besides which, there is evidence that ‘God’ exists; it is simply the fact that the cosmos and all that exists in it exists. Poof! There you have it, if proof be needed - and the fact that ‘God’s’ non-existent-existence is postulated a posteriori to have arisen a priori does not seem to cause our Professor of Philosophy any problems whatsoever.

Actually, the whole of Davies’ article is worth reading for those who wish to appreciate a master class in sophistry, spurious logic, and vacuous rhetoric, though his grammar could do with some improvement, so no A+ from me.

I also love the way that Davies quotes Kierkegaard out of context in support of his interpretation of Aquinas:

[Aquinas] would readily have agreed with Kierkegaard’s statement: “God does not exist, he is eternal.”
The context in which Kierkegaard said that was actually in acknowledgement of the fact that one cannot know or prove the existence of ‘God’, so that one must simply choose to believe by making a “leap of faith”. And to believe in things which are not supported by reality is, by definition, an act of delusion.

As for Davies’ reference to St Anselm in support of Aquinas’ attempts at providing a more sophisticated ontological argument for the existence of ‘God, that is surely a joke. The nonsense that Anselm spouted was demolished in his lifetime and some 150+ years prior to Aquinas by a lowly monk named Guanilo, and almost any intelligent person who has lived ever since. As for Aquinas’ own ontological argument, one needs look no further than the classical refutations put forward by Kant and Hume.

Despite the many objections that can be raised against Davies’ article, I think the most amusing one is the fact that he claims that the Decalogue commands us to be atheists, whilst overlooking the fact that it was allegedly ‘God’ who gave the Decalogue to Moses in the first place. Correction, that is not merely amusing; that is excruciatingly funny!

But I shouldn’t be too critical of the good Professor, for anyone who can admit that there are no gods is not altogether delusional.

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