Dr. James Anderson writes,
I appreciated your recent post with the above title. However, I note that you didn't connect your comments there with your ongoing discussion with Dale Tuggy. From point 3 of your post:
Ryan seems to think that to believe in God is to believe that there is a special object in addition to the objects we normally take to exist. But this is not what a sophisticated theist maintains.
People like Ryan, Russell, Dawkins, and Dennett who compare God to a celestial teapot betray by so doing a failure to understand, and engage, the very sense of the theist's assertions. To sum up. [...] (iii) God is not a being who simply exists alongside other beings.
Just some more grist for the mill!
Thanks, James. The entry in question is an old post from six or seven years ago. That explains the lack of reference to my present conversation with Dale Tuggy. So let me now bring Tuggy into the picture.
Let us first note that 'God is a being among beings' does not imply the existence of God. It is a claim about how God exists should he exist. It is like the claim 'Chairs are not (subjective) concepts.' That is true whether or not there are any chairs. It says something about how chairs exist should any exist, namely, extramentally. The same goes for 'God is not a concept,' which is true whether or not God exists.
A second point to note is that 'God is a being among beings' is not equivalent to 'God is a physical thing among physical things.' Maybe Yuri Gagarin believed in that equivalence, and maybe Dawkins does, but surely it would be uncharitable in the extreme to impute such a belief to Russell despite his comparison of God to a teapot. That wasn't the point of the comparison. And of course Tuggy does not hold to the equivalence.
Is Dale a sophisticated theist? Well, he is sophisticated, holding a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University, and he is a theist. So he is a sophisticated theist. But it doesn't follow that his theism is sophisticated. I say it isn't. A sophisticated X-ist can hold to an unsophisticated X-ism.
God, if he exists, is not just one more thing that exists having properties that distinguish him from everything else that exists. God is the ultimate source, the absolute ground, of the existence, properties, intelligibility, and value of everything distinct from himself. As such, he cannot be just one more thing that exists, one more item in the ontological inventory. Why not? Here is one argument.
God creates ex nihilo, out of nothing, everything (or at least every contingent thing) distinct from himself. So everything distinct from God depends on God for its existence, while God does not depend on anything for his existence. The Being of creatures is their Being-created-by-God while the Being of God is not his Being-created-by-God. Therefore, there are two very different modes of Being in play here, one pertaining to God, the other to creatures. Since God and creatures exist in different ways (modes), God is not a being among beings. For when we say that God is a being among beings part of what we mean is that God exists or is in the very same way that everything else is or exists.
Is this not a good argument? It is not a compelling argument, but then no argument for any substantive claim in philosophy is compelling.
Rather than say more in defense of the above sketch of an argument, I will enable Comments and let my esteemed and astute readers poke holes in the argument if they can.