A Challenge to Theists and their Accommodationist Supporters

Jerry Coyne is to be congratulated for reading The Huffington Post. I can't be bothered, but I'm happy when he finds something interesting [CfI declares war on atheists].

His latest discovery is a childish rant by John Shook, Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow, Center for Inquiry. Like Jerry Coyne, I am terrbily disappointed in the American branch of the Center for Inquiry. If the kind of nonsence they're spreading ever begins to contaminate the Centre for Inquiry in Canada then I will quite the organization. (I am currently a CFI Canada Advisory Fellow.)

Here's what Shook says in his HuffPo article [For Atheists and Believers, Ignorance Is No Excuse].
Atheists are getting a reputation for being a bunch of know-nothings. They know nothing of God, and not much more about religion, and they seem proud of their ignorance.

This reputation is a little unfair, yet when they profess how they can't comprehend God, atheists really mean it. To listen to the loudest atheists, you can hear the bewilderment. And they just can't believe how a thing like religion could appeal to any intelligent person. The mythological story told by atheists recounts how religion arose through vast ignorance and perversity. A plague upon humanity, really, infecting the dimwitted or foolish with viral memes about spirits and gods. If there's no arguing with irrational people or dumb viruses, what's to be done?

Astonished that intellectual defenses of religion are still maintained, many prominent atheists disparage theology. They either dismiss the subject as irrelevant, or, if they do bother to acknowledge it, slim refutations of outdated arguments for a medieval God seem enough. Atheists cheer on such bold leadership, but what is really being learned? Challenging religion's immunity from criticism is one thing; perpetuating contempt for religion's intellectual side is another. Too many followers only mimic the contempt, forgetting that you won't effectively criticize what you would not understand. The "know-nothing" wing of the so-called New Atheism really lives up to that label. Nonbelievers reveling in their ignorance are an embarrassing betrayal of the freethought legacy.
The question before us is whether there is a God or there isn't. So far, I have not been convinced by any argument in favor of supernatural beings. Every single argument that I've encountered seems flawed. Many of them are stupid and nonsensical.

I am not a "know-nothing." I've made a big effort to learn the latest arguments for the existence of God. I've attended lectures by well-known theists and by well-known accommodationists. I read their books. I read their articles. I've even attended courses on religion.

I'm not going to embarrass the theists and accommodationists by listing the really stupid books written by people in the theist camp. John Shook has pointed out the worst of the theist arguments. Here's four books that supposedly represent the best of modern religious arguments for the existence of God ...
  • The Big Questions in Science and religion. by Keith Ward (Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Oxford University), Templeton Foundation Press, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (2008)

  • Belief: Reading on the Reason for Faith edited by Francis Collins, HarperOne, New York (2010)

  • Science and Spirituality: Making Room for Faith in the Age of Science by Michael Ruse, Cambridge University Press, New York (2010)

  • The Dawkin's Delusion: Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine. by Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (2007)
This brings me to my challenge. I challenge all theists and all their accommodationist friends to post their very best 21st century, sophisticated (or not), arguments for the existence of God. They can put them in the comments section of this posting, or on any of the other atheist blogs, or on their own blogs and websites. Just send me the link.

Try and make it concise and to the point. It would be nice if it's less than 100 years old. Keep in mind that there are over 1000 different gods so it would be helpful to explain just which gods the argument applies to.

I don't care where they post the argument, just get on with it. I'm not interested in any other details about theology. Those points only become relevant once you've convinced this atheist that you have a rational argument for the existence of God. Don't bother telling me how you reconcile your God with evil, or why you believe in miracles, or why transcendence is important in your life, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Don't insult my intelligence by pointing out that religion has done a lot of good things in the past as if that were proof of the existence of the supernatural. Don't be silly enough to try proving god by telling me that religion makes people feel good. So does chocolate, and wine.

Let's stop the whining about how "know-nothing" atheists are ignoring the very best arguments for the existence of God. Come on, all you theists and accommodationists, put your money where your mouth is. Give us something of substance instead of hiding behind The Courtier's Reply. Let's see the angels.

I'm betting that wimps like John Shook and his accommodationist friends don't have a damn clue what they're talking about. I'm betting that they haven't the foggiest notion of any new and sophisticated arguments for the existence of God that the New Atheists haven't already addressed. I'm betting they're just blowing smoke in order to provide cover for their theist friends in the hope of saving them from intellectual embarrassment.1

That's why he says in his article ...
Christian theology has come a long way since St. Thomas Aquinas. Under stress from modern science and Enlightenment philosophy, it has explored cosmological, ethical, emotional, and existential dimensions of religious life. Many kinds of theology have emerged, replacing a handful of traditional arguments for God with robust methods of defending religious viewpoints. There are philosophical atheists who have quietly and successfully kept pace. The discipline of atheology is quite capable of matching these theologies with its skeptical replies, so atheists need not be intimidated. Taking theology seriously enough to competently debate God should not be beneath atheism.
Too bad he doesn't mention even one of those supposedly robust new arguments for the existence of supernatural beings. Could it possibly be because they don't exist?

Guess we'll find out pretty soon. I'll wait for one week.

1. They may also want to be saving themselves since many accommodationists have spent a lifetime studying theology. It must be embarrassing to be told that their life's work is no more important than studying fairy tales.
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