I don’t know why I get sucked in by these click bait titles. Maybe it’s because this one was given in my old stomping grounds. The good Father shows that he has listened to debates, read some Hitchens and Harris, and is familiar with Bertrand Russell and the teapot on the other side of the sun as well as the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Then he just throws them out, calls them straw men.
He describes the description of God that Hitchens calls a monster, then he quotes the response of N.T. Wright, “I don’t believe in that God either”. He calls the New Atheist description a straw man, then he straw mans the New Atheists. He never addresses the version of God that was the primary version used since the time of Aquinas up until the Fundamentals were published around 1910. He doesn’t address the atrocities done in the name of that version. He barely gives a nod to discoveries like the size of the universe that put cracks in that version and all the variations that followed.
He quotes Aquinas, saying that you can’t compare God to a finite type of change mechanism, or even a being’s ability to change his environment, but, he says, “God who is totally actualized in his being can affect things not simply through motion or change but from bringing forth the totality of their being through creating ex nihilo.” This isn’t a physical process, acting on some pre-existing reality, God brings the whole reality into being.
That’s a nice definition of God. It’s gives us something to look for, maybe we could even figure out how to test for it. It doesn’t do anything to demonstrate God. The Four Horsemen of Atheism, along with Ayan Hirsi Ali, and many others have addressed this new description, but it can’t be found in their quick comebacks.
The description is slippery and hard to nail down, so the responses, the nails, are also hard to find. Daniel Dennet has one of the best in his talk about deepities. He mentions Karin Armstrong’s “God is the god beyond God”. The way people like Fr. Barron responds to the responses is to come up with a new way of saying the same thing. In this case, he’s going to one of the early scholarly sources and quoting the Latin, but it doesn’t matter, it’s the same statement in fancier language or a foreign language. It boils down to, “you can’t disprove my god because you can’t define it because I’m saying it is that which can’t be defined.”