Support the Café

Search our Site

Can we prove that God exists?

Can we prove that God exists?

“What Philosophy Can Do”, the new book by philosopher Gary Gutting, is an attempt to show readers how philosophy can be practical and functional outside of academic settings. As part of a promotion for his work, Gutting has published an excerpt on God and atheism on Salon.

This piece takes the New Atheist argument that God and Santa Claus are equivalent, and uses lay-person language to demonstrate why that isn’t the case. Gutting mostly works with the argument that something can not come from nothing; theists speculate that God is the origin or the spark of existence in an argument called “the cosmological argument”. This argument is one of the better ones used by theists seeking to prove the existence of God, and draws the most fire from New Atheists.

From the article:


Our first concern will be Richard Dawkins’s efforts to refute standard arguments for theism. These efforts suffer from a variety of logical mistakes. His critique of the cosmological argument confuses an implication with a presupposition, while his critique of the ontological argument makes an illegitimate move from distaste for a conclusion to its invalidity. His critique of arguments from religious experience ignores the distinction between when we can explain an experience as illusory and when we should explain an experience as illusory.

This is the opening of the excerpt; missing the context of previous chapters makes it a bit dense, but ultimately approachable, as concepts which may be unfamiliar are explored and defined through the piece. Gutting doesn’t explore every aspect in full; he refers to the ontological argument and notes that Dawkins has not argued against it successfully, but he doesn’t note that there is a rich tradition of countering the ontological argument even within theism. The Benedictine monk Gaunilo was one of the first to counter Anselm, although Thomas Aquinas is probably more well-known for making the assertions that humans can not know the nature of God.

Do you already read Gutting, perhaps in the New York Times or other outlets? If you’re interested in his book, it is available online at Amazon and at local book sellers.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café