(Text: “Debating an Atheist — Round Four“, Soli Deo Gloria, August 3, 2012)
Here’s something a bit unusual. I’m going to start this week’s discussion by agreeing that Pastor Feinstein has a point with some validity to it. I think it’s based more on a misunderstanding between himself and Russell, but he does correctly summarize a legitimate logical error. He quotes Russell as saying the following:
“I don’t see any compelling reason to accept your premise that the existence of consistency depends on the existence of an absolute, trinitarian, universe-ruling God. And if I were to somehow accept that consistency depends on this, we still would be no closer to justifying the claim that this God exists.”
Pastor Feinstein correctly points out that if A is necessary for B, then B cannot be true unless A is true also. Thus, if God were indeed necessary in order for the universe to exist, the existence of the universe would be sufficient to demonstrate the existence of God. Conversely, of course, if the universe exists and God does not, then that proves that God is not, in fact, necessary. I think that Russell’s point is more in line with the latter, i.e. that if God does not exist, then He cannot be necessary, especially given the flimsy and superstitious arguments that Pastor Feinstein provided as justification for the claim that God is necessary. Still, from a strictly technical standpoint, Pastor Feinstein is correct in objecting that you cannot logically accept the premises and then reject the conclusion, and that’s worth mentioning, not the least because of its rarity.
For the rest of his discussion, though, he wields logic like a sword with no hilt, heedless of the wounds he is inflicting on himself.