(Redated post originally published on 26 October 2011)
As a ‘friendly atheist,’ I believe that theists can be fully rational in believing that God exists. I know that some theists are ‘unfriendly theists’ in the sense that they believe
(1) The existence of God is obvious to everyone.
(2) There is a supernatural creator of the universe
(~1) God’s existence is not obvious to everyone.
One could be persuaded that God exists on the basis of arguments like the kalam cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, etc., without believing that God’s existence is obvious to everyone. So is there any non-question-begging argument for (1)?
Here is one such argument:
(3) If X is a causal condition of Y’s rationality, then in order to be rational Y must presuppose X.
(4) God is a causal condition of morality, logic, etc.
(5) Therefore, insofar as we are rational, we must presuppose God.
For the sake of argument, let’s grant the truth of the highly doubtful (4). Even so, (3) is false. From the fact that X is a causal condition of Y’s rationality, it doesn’t follow that, in order to be rational, Y must presuppose X.
Autobiographical aside: it seems to me that (1) is not only false, but obviously false. Indeed, I find it interesting that some really smart people could honestly believe (1), despite the fact that I think it is obviously false. Of course, those same people could reply that I’m self-deceived.