This week John published what he described as part of his introduction to the book he’s co-writing with me. That came as news to me. He starts the article like this:
Dr. Rauser has by-passed what I consider the proper protocol. He has unfairly placed himself in the so-called final championship game by jumping in line, as it were, bypassing other worthy religious contenders in order to debate me, an atheist.
This is obviously intended to place me at some sort of disadvantage in the debate.
But that is to misrepresent the fundamental nature of our debate. The book is called God or Godless? And the fundamental question is this: should we believe there is a God or not? As I have explained before this is a very simple question. For any event or state of affairs you can ask whether that event or state of affairs was caused by a prior event or whether it was caused by an agent. Thus, when seeking to explain the world we distinguish between event causes and agent causes.
Given that we can ask whether any particular event or state of affairs was caused by an agent, we can ask whether the event of the universe’s coming to exist or the state of affairs of the universe existing was caused by an agent. John enters the ring arguing it was not caused by an agent. I enter the ring arguing it was caused by an agent. (My point is not that the debate is about the cosmological argument. Rather, the point is that the debate is about two equally basic interpretations of reality.)
There is no queue jumping here. I haven’t bypassed other “worthy contenders”. There are only two basic options. Either God exists or God does not exist. Attempting to redraw the lines of debate in one’s favor may be a wise debating strategy but it is not an honest one.