Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Argument from Divine Hiddenness

I've always maintained that the only atheistic argument that carries any weight whatsoever is the problem of suffering. Even if this argument were successful (and I hold that it's not), that wouldn't mean there is no God, but only that there is no maximally great God. The so-called argument from divine hiddenness (ADH) goes something like this:

1. If God exists, there would most likely be compelling evidence that he exists. (Premise)

2. There is no compelling evidence that God exists. (Premise)

3. Therefore, God most likely does not exist. (From 1 and 2)

I will grant premise (1), although there are theists who would challenge even that premise. However, premise (2) seems to be nothing more than question-begging. In order to justify (2), the proponent of the ADH would have to simultaneously refute, or otherwise undermine, each of the arguments for God's existence. In fact, the Bible states, "since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Why think that Paul is wrong?

It turns out, then, that the ADH is really just a round about way of denying the arguments of natural theology.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is Hitler to blame for the War in Vietnam?

The Angelic Doctor* points to the diversity of objects that are united within a single order as being evidence for the existence of God. There are obvious examples of this: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak atomic forces are the most fundamental forces we are aware of today. However, I'm interested in considering some examples that are not so obvious.

Consider Hitler's invasion of France in 1940. As a result of the conquest, France lost control of its colonies, including Vietnam. Upon the end of WWII and France's renewed interest in taking back Vietnam, the people of Vietnam were no longer willing to be ruled by a foreign power. This is part of the reason Ho Chi Minh was able to solidify his rule in North Vietnam, and ultimately, all of Vietnam.

Now, the United States' involvement in the War of Vietnam was fueled primarily by the ideal of containment: to prevent the spread of communism. It's not so implausible to think that if Hitler had never invaded France, that the chain of events would not have transpired as they did. France never would have lost its colonies, and Ho Chi Minh never would have had enough support to lead his country in the direction of communism, making U.S. intervention superfluous. It is in this sense that Hitler may be considered one of the causes of the conflict in Vietnam.

*St. Thomas Aquinas