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God in “On Being an Atheist” by H. J. McCloskey Report (Assessment)


According to the explanation of God’s existence using the cumulative approach, we have sections of truth that together concur, but cannot be used as definite proof that there exists a powerful deity. McCloskey has criticized the presence of God by objecting to all the arguments claiming that they do not satisfy anyone to believe in God’s presence. In addition, examining the objections separately, each of his objections fails to satisfy the presence of God. Theists believe that there is a creator who created all the things on earth, and he (God) takes control of the world in his hands. However, they do not take into consideration the problem of an uncaused cause, an existing being. Generally, from the design evidence and purpose in the world, people are made to believe in God. They further explain that without knowledge of evolution, one can easily adapt to the environment as evidence of purpose and design.

On the Cosmological Argument

According to Evans Stephen and Manis Zachary, the existence of a contingent being who does not have an explanation of his or her own existence and argues that he is the cause of the contingent beings exists, hence, the first cause1. They argue that the first cause needs an explanation of its own concerning its origin as it has provided the explanation of all the constituents of the universe. Lack of this explanation, therefore, means that there is no supernatural being in existence. Kalam’s explanation of the cause and an uncaused cause definitely out wins the arguments of McCloskey and prove him wrong. He uses the Scientific, Mathematical and Philosophical arguments to explain the existence of uncaused cause. He simply uses the premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause, meaning that the universe begins to exist, and thus it has a cause. He claims that all series of past events are finite in their number, and the past series of physical events have a beginning. The existence of beings in the universe simply shows that there is a contingency cause that can not be infinite. Giving an example of distances between two points as indefinite means there is no actual infinite; hence the universe series of causes had a beginning2.

Kalam further uses an example of a continuous falling of objects; for their continuous fall, there must be a first object to fall. He argues that McCloskey declaring the nature awareness as broken is wrong since no one has the knowledge of knowing that nature is broken unless he/she has the supernatural powers standards of normalcy to judge whether something is right or wrong. McCloskey assumes the fact that nature is broken by claiming that there was an imperfect planner. The scientific explanation of light clearly indicates the existence of the universe. Extrapolating this situation, it reaches a point of zero distances on the universe; hence, through this initial cosmological singularity, past universe temporal extremity is formed. It is being proved that the scientific formation of the universe is not true; this is simply because there was nothing that existed before it; hence the initial conditions operating laws cannot be accounted for.

According to Evans and Manis’s explanations on faith, one can disagree with McCloskey’s explanations which he based only on the cause rather than on both the caused cause and the uncaused cause. It’s clearly seen that McCloskey denies the empirical evidence which has been described and his solutions to why the universe exists are not enough3. However, McCloskey admits that the cause who created the world was powerful and imperfect. Hence, he does not completely deny the argument of causation meaning that he stops his arguments on causation and he did not discuss uncaused; hence, his explanation can be regarded as incomplete. Rather, one is inclined to accept that Kalam’s arguments provide more solutions and evidence of an uncaused cause.

Teleological argument

According to the teleological argument from design, there is a supreme being who has good intentions and at the same time possesses bad results. It is argued that theists use faith to believe in God thus take commitment, risks and courage. They further explain that having faith in God is equally to having faith in a man who has evidenced that he is not a criminal. McCloskey argues that if God existed, he would be imperfect and having faith on him is very irrational hence rational belief in God is impossible. He adds that evil exists and comes in two forms, the physical evil coming as pain and moral evil as practiced by people such as Hitler. He bases the argument of design unconvincingly on two objections. He uses natural selection and evolution to discredit appearance of design and voiding the argument through appealing to suffering and evil terming it as a lack of design4. Teleological argument has been linked to string theory that talks of several different universes in the cosmic landscape. It argues that region of cosmic landscape which is the life permitting zone is tiny as compared to the entire universe. The theory says that the universe seems to be more intentional regarding the necessity and chance possibilities. An observer who has evolved within the universe is highly probable of finding the universe quantities and constant fine tuned for his existence but the probability of such fined universe to exist is low. According to Evans and Manis, most of the teleological arguments are seen to be the best and real while all the objections posed by McCloskey should be seen as compliments to the argument since the composition of the universe is more intentional.

On the Problem of Evil

McCloskey argues that God does not exist simply because of the presence of the evil on earth. He explains that, due to sufferings experienced on earth, no perfect being could have created it. However McCloskey did not consider the fact that omnipotent and omnibenevolent God exists and that the existing sufferings in the world are logically inconsistent with respect to one another. Moreover, there is a problem on his summary where he stipulates that God does not exist while the gratuitous evil exists and vice versa, since most people admit that gratuitous evil exists5. These arguments are weak because no one can justify sufficiently that God lacks enough reasons for causing suffering in the world. God’s omnipotence is free of the ability of creating contradictions, meaning that God can not force a free agent to do anything hence evil dwells in every world which God can actualize and sin is not necessary. Therefore the presence of an evil in the actual world increases greatly. All the problems of tragedy, injustice and suffering are common to everyone and it is argued that these problems affect nonbelievers more than those who believe in God. Therefore, abandoning God does not guarantee anyone a relief of his problems. Concerning the idea of just and unjust, and comparing just with the universe being against God, is not true as the argument depended only on the fact that the universe is unjust. For McCloskey, the evil in the bible ranged from the grand scheme to the minute motive of the heart. This shows that man is suppose to be eliminated for evil not to exist.

Evil comes in different forms like death, rape, genocide, lying, among other forms. This indicates that evil is our real problem and God has no problem with evil and for the evil to be eliminated, all human beings must be eliminated, too. Therefore, evil’s problem is not based on the way God can be justified before us but how we can be justified before him. McCloskey assumption of divine design in the world is something that has been developed by mortals on earth. Making the evil problem easier to handle by not believing in God according to him is a great mistake6.

On Atheism as Comforting

Atheists proposed an assumption that God must get rid of every form of evil in the world for him to be termed as omnipotent and omnibenevolent. However, the truth is, a good being eliminates evil without losing the greater good. Most atheists believe wrong and right, but without God no one can institute these sense of morality. If God was not there, everything happening on earth could be accidental or planned. But things cannot accidentally happen showing that there exists a supreme being7.


It is clearly seen that McCloskey is against God’s existence. However, it is clearly seen that his objection does not have a proper solution to the problems postulated. According to his naturalistic position, more problems have been created instead of providing solutions hence rendering his objection unrealistic and the theists’ probable solution out wins. He based his cosmological evidence on the cause, but it is clearly seen making uncaused first causes strong argument. The problem of evil which is McCloskey strong objection, is seen as evidence that God exists basing on the moral objective. Therefore believing in existence of God by Christians is a very rational philosophical position.


Edwards, Paul, and Pap Arthur. A modern introduction to philosophy: readings from classical and contemporary sources. New York: Free Press, 1965.

Evans, Stephen and Manis Zachary. Thinking About Faith. New York: BPR Publishers, 2009.

Gale, Richard. On The Nature and Existence of God. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Riverhead, 2008.


  1. Stephen Evans, and Zachary Manis. Thinking About Faith. (New York: BPR Publishers, 2009)4.
  2. Richard M. Gale. On The Nature and Existence of God. (New York: Cambridge university press. 1991)103.
  3. Stephen and Manis. Thinking About Faith, 5
  4. Paul Edwards and Arthur Pap. A modern introduction to philosophy: readings from classical and contemporary sources. (New York: Free Press, 1965), 265.
  5. Stephen and Manis. Thinking About Faith, 6.
  6. Timothy Keller. The Reason for God. (New York: Riverhead, 2008), 52.
  7. Gale. On The Nature and Existence of God, 103.
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1. IvyPanda. "God in "On Being an Atheist" by H. J. McCloskey." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/god-in-on-being-an-atheist-by-h-j-mccloskey/.


IvyPanda. "God in "On Being an Atheist" by H. J. McCloskey." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/god-in-on-being-an-atheist-by-h-j-mccloskey/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "God in "On Being an Atheist" by H. J. McCloskey." September 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/god-in-on-being-an-atheist-by-h-j-mccloskey/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'God in "On Being an Atheist" by H. J. McCloskey'. 5 September.

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