By Robin Le Poidevin
First released in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra resources for Arguing for atheism : an introduction to the philosophy of religion
Let us take these moves a little more slowly. Suppose that all necessary truths are analytic. Then anything which is not analytic is not necessarily true. Now consider the proposition ‘God exists’. Is this analytic? No (but see below). It is therefore not a necessary truth. From this, it follows that it is possible that God does not exist. So premise (2a) of the modal atheistic argument is true. Now consider ‘God does not exist’. Is this analytic? No. So it is not a necessary truth, in which case it is possible that God does exist, and premise (2) of the modal ontological argument is true.
The statement that ‘I have invented an anaesthetic which heightens people’s sensitivity to pain’ implies that there is an anaesthetic which does not reduce sensitivity to pain, and this is self-contradictory. For a large number of examples, the two accounts of analyticity agree on whether a proposition should be classified as analytic or not. Either will do for our purposes, but for simplicity I shall use ‘analytic’ to mean ‘has a self-contradictory negation’. So, to return to our premise, can it plausibly be regarded as analytically true?
What of the first premise of the modal argument, that everything whose existence is contingent has a cause of its existence? This is not obviously something we know a priori, nor is it obviously something we infer from experience, but whatever the supposed basis of its authority, it faces the objection we have just been discussing: causation is essentially a temporal concept. So, if the universe is supposed to have a beginning, the problems we 14 The limits of theistic explanation encountered above will still occur.
Arguing for atheism : an introduction to the philosophy of religion by Robin Le Poidevin