Robert Price reviewed God or Godless in Free Inquiry Magazine and John Loftus is over the moon about it. He emailed me and the Baker publicist yesterday to let us know. In his email he gleefully wrote: “Unfortunately [Price] doesn’t have anything good to say about Randal’s arguments saying I ‘systematically punctured’ them like one who popped balloons.”
This kind of behavior reminds me of Mikey that irritating kid in my grade 5 class who used to say “My dad drives a Porsche. Sorry that your dad doesn’t drive a Porsche.”
(Yeah, well I’m sorry that your dad’s Porsche is a 924, Mikey.)
Today I look back at Mikey and realize it was insecurity and poor self-image that led him to behave in this manner.
Plus the fact that he was still in grade 5.
Now back to Loftus. He has blogged about Price’s review. You can read it here. Loftus quotes Price as saying:
“[Rauser] relies on rhetorical flash. He is clever and humourous, and he knows it. His delivery is the sugar that helps the medicine go down…Rauser’s cheering section will have much to smirk at here, but it is false comfort.”
In other words, rhetorical skill, style and humor are all points of criticism when one is arguing that God exists.
According to Loftus (since I haven’t yet seen the review) Price then goes on to identify two points of criticism. The first is my doctrine of scripture. But it is the second that really caught my attention. Here I’ll quote Loftus:
“Rauser’s second, “thoroughly vitiating error,” Price writes, “is the incessant appeal to the God of the Gaps.” You can see this in several of his debate proposals within the book itself. Price describes it like this: “We can’t (yet) figure out this or that, so let’s ‘solve’ the mystery by giving it a name, ‘Jehovah.'” The number of times this strategy has been used in the history of the church to defend the faith only to be shown wrong, should stop any intellectual dead in his tracks from using it any more. But Rauser uses it repeatedly in this book. Is he an intellectual? Does he not know? Has he not heard? Is he shutting his eyes with hands over his ears and yelling so this news doesn’t seep into his brain, or what?”
Of course I don’t argue “We can’t figure this out so let’s solve the mystery by giving it a name, Jehovah.” This is a stupid caricature. But note the irony here. I argue for the existence of God based on the existence of objective moral value and purpose, objective aesthetic value, the truth-seeking direction of our cognitive faculties, the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and empty tomb, and several other points. And in his criticism Price has functionally declared this entire form of reasoning to God’s existence illegitimate by fiat, calling it all “God of the gaps”.
Do you see how question-begging this is? By definition one cannot argue that God explains anything because invoking God would be appealing to God of the gaps. This is called winning the debate by fiat. Too bad Loftus didn’t make that clear in the book. He could just have argued:
(1) Appealing to God to explain anything is God of the gaps.
(2) God of the gaps is illegitimate.
(3) Therefore, appealing to God to explain anything is illegitimate.