Antitheism: A refelction

by Christopher New

He a in thskse abstract

Why is there no sustained tradition of argument concerning the existence of a supreme (omniscient and omnipotent) being who is perfectly evil, as there is about one who is perfectly good?

He argues that the

reason for the nonexistence of a tradition of antitheism seems therefore to be that it is merely emotionally, not that it is rationally, less inviting than theism.

To get us to the point of antitheism, he proposes that a reflection or rather to turn the current theists arguments on their heads would be a good starting point. He opines that antitheists would use the ontological argument thus

the Devil is by definition a being than whom no worse can be conceived.

And as the theists want us to believe, such a being must exist in reality.

He makes use of the cosmological argument and presents it thus

everything in the universe is contingent, and that every contingent thing requires a cause of its existence. In order to avoid an infinite regress, and for any contingent thing to exist at all, then, there must be a non-contingent being which is itself uncaused, but causes everything in the universe. And this necessarily existing (because noncontingent) being is the omniscient, omnipotent and omnimalevolent Devil.

He goes on to say the teleological argument argument gives the most rational explanation of things in the world. He says

omnimalevolence, at least, can rationally be imputed to the designer as the best explanation of what he appears to have designed. When we consider how well the universe functions to perpetrate and perpetuate evil, it is hard (perverse, antitheists say) not to attribute omnimalevolence to its designer.

There are the antimiracle and antireligious experiences which I will pass over.

The most interesting part of the essay, at least for me is his dealing with the problem of good. This is raised as an objection to the existence of a malevolent omniscient and omnipotent being. The critique asks

If the Devil is omniscient, omnipotent and omnitnalevolent, it is asked, why does he allow the existence of good in the world?

In a similar argument as that of Epicurus, the critique argues

Either he can’t prevent it, in which case he is not omnipotent, or else he chooses to allow it, in which case he is not omnimalevolent.

In his defense the antitheist uses the freewill defense. He argues

The free will defence alleges that free will is an evil, for it makes sin possible and allows us u) approach a little nearer to the status of our evil creator. Since it is worse for us to do evil of our own free will than to be causally determined to produce evil, the Devil gives us free will. But in creating men with free will, he has to accept that sometimes they may act for good rather than for evil. However, the greater evil that comes about from, and is comprised by, the possession of free will far outweighs the occasional good that also occurs through its existence .The world, in other words, is a worse place for the existence of free will, with its possessors’ infrequent good acts, than it would be without it. This argument, of course, depends on an empirical assumption, that there is ultimately more evil than good in the world as a result of free will. While in the nature of the case this cannot be established until the end of the world, antitheists claim that the evidence of human history so far supports the hypothesis.

He closes this essay by saying, and I find it agreeable

Men are inclined to believe what they would like to be true, and they would like it to be true that man is the creature of God, not the Devil, that man has a loving, not an indifferent or malevolent, creator, and that man has a leading role in the evolving drama of the universe, rather than a mere walk-on part. Hence we have a theistic, but no antitheistic, tradition of intellectual inquiry. Not because theism is rationally more plausible than antitheism, but because it is more comforting to believe

There you have it. The arguments for antitheism. I welcome my theist friends to present objections to the above. We don’t bite, so don’t shy away.