-As an argument for atheism, Russell’s teapot* can only be addressed to someone with no religious experience or theistic argument, and who is presumptively justified in this. But if you get to assume that, who needs an argument?

-Even if we assume a person with no religious experience or theistic argument, is the teapot supposed to prove that they have done their due diligence or that they are justified in their predicament? Are we really supposed to think that, having discovered we have no religious feeling or natural theology, that we can write off the search for it in the same way we can write off the teapot?

Dan Barker: God is incoherent, since he is supposed to be both perfectly merciful and perfectly just, but perfect justice consists in giving exactly what one deserves and mercy consists in giving them less than they deserve.

Response: Nothing responsible for evils is a virtue, and so mercy could not consist in giving less evil than justice doles out. It follows that mercy must consist in giving goods even beyond justice, i.e. giving rise to both the good of justice and something more. The paradigm case for this is the death of Christ, fulfilling the divine decree that all men must die while making the death of one man something in virtue of which death could assimilate one to divine life. The act of creation does this as well, for to establish the existence of all that is due to something (justice) is itself an act that is not due to the thing so established (mercy).

-A: Just look at this map. Clearly, the religion you accept is determined most of all by where you were born.

B: Just look at this map. Clearly accepting atheism is determine most of all by where you were born. Look at all those atheist concentrations in China, Vietnam, and the Nordic countries.

A: Exactly. But atheism doesn’t claim to be a revealed religion where God is supposed to choose who believes in him.

B: But revelation is not opposed to national religion – you’ve heard of the Jews, right? The Puritan City on the Hill?

A: But why invoke divine transmission when a human one will do?

B: Now we’re back at the Reformation and Monophysite controversies. If the priest forgives sins, who needs God; and if God forgives sins, who needs a priest? If Christ the man sufficed to redeem sinners, why make him God; if God sufficed, why the Incarnation? All the great monotheisms involve the claim that God’s work is broadly sacramental: the Jews place God in a nation or temple; the Christians place him in a man and sacrament; Islam places him in a book. You want him to be in a culture as opposed to being just divine. There is a degree of truth in this so far as you think that culture as such is not divine, but no one thinks God works apart from some concrete, experiential medium like a nation, man, preacher, or book.

*The teapot objection need not be taken like this, but it often is. See Dan Dennett here.

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