Randal Rauser on hating God

Randal Rauser calls antitheism “just, well, a bit ridiculous”:

The concept of God that has been central in the West for millennia is the concept reflected in the Exodus ”I AM” and the Johannine Logos, in Plato’s Form of the Good and Aristotle’s Prime Mover, in Anselm’s being than which none greater can be conceived and Aquinas’s “ipsum esse subsistens” (God’s essence is to exist). It is God as ultimate, unique, classless, origin of all and end of all.

Because of this, according to Rauser, what the antitheist is saying amounts to something like:

“Imagine the most wonderful, perfect, loving, great agent you can exist. Now imagine an agent even more wonderful, perfect, loving, and great than you can conceive. Got it in your mind’s eye? Good. Now guess what? I HATE HIM! Ha! Whaddaya think of that?”

The first problem here is that we may not all be talking about the same concept of “God.” It’s pretty easy to argue that the description of God in the Bible, or the description of God given by modern Evangelical Christians, isn’t a description of the greatest possible being.

Similarly, when it comes to the kind of antitheism motivated by the problem of evil, I take it that the thought is something like, “If I knew the universe had a creator, I’d be angry at him for making such a mess of the place.”

Even if we insist on the concept of God as all-powerful, perfectly good, etc. there’s still a rather depressing thought that would occur to me if I somehow knew there was a God, but everything else I know about the universe remained unchanged. The thought is this: “So the universe is ruled by a loving God, and this is the best he could do?” (In non-religious terms: “The optimist declares this is the best of all possible worlds, the pessimist fears this is the case.”)

Though that wouldn’t quite justify being angry at God–after all, he’s doing his best!–but it’s still not a religiously edifying thought.

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