XFiles Friday: Leaping to the next conclusionMay 16, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 8 )
Up to now, Geisler and Turek have focused on eliminating atheism as a possibly true worldview, which they claim to have accomplished in chapters 1 through 7. Polytheism (and inadvertently Trinitarianism) were likewise disposed of at the beginning of Chapter 8. According to G&T, that leaves only three possible contenders for the title of True and Accurate Worldview.
The main point is that the right box top for the universe shows a theistic God. That means that only one of the three major theistic world religions can make the cut of truth: either Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Now, logically, all of these theistic world religions cannot be true—because they make mutually exclusive claims. Moreover, it could be that none of these world religions is completely true. Maybe they have theism right but little else. That’s possible. However, since we know beyond a reasonable doubt that God exists and that he has the characteristics we’ve listed above—characteristics that include design, purpose, justice, and love—then we should expect him to reveal more of himself and his purpose for our lives. This would require that he communicate with us. One of the three major theistic religions is likely to contain that communication.
Having leaped to the conclusions that God is characterized by design, purpose, justice and love, it’s not surprising that Geisler and Turek would take this opportunity to jump to a number of other conclusions, such as the conclusion that God is a He.
Let’s just think about that one of a moment. Gender roles are fundamentally reproductive roles. Our own psychological makeup is such that we tend to associate a number of additional characteristics to each gender role, as well as social expectations, traditions, and other stereotypes. But masculinity and femininity are fundamentally defined by sexual reproductive function.
Geisler and Turek have just got done declaring that there can never be more than one God, because God is infinite. By their own definition, then, God cannot reproduce, since there cannot be more than one of It, nor can It die and be replaced by a successor, since a God that has come to an end must necessarily be a finite being. God therefore cannot have a reproductive role, and cannot therefore be male.
That’s the conclusion G&T should have come to if they had stopped to think about God’s reproductive status. But they didn’t. As with their prior discussion of what we can “know beyond a reasonable doubt,” they have a clear picture in mind of what conclusion they want to reach, and they reach it by simply mentioning some evidence, and then claiming that this evidence leads to that conclusion, whether there’s any real connection between the two or not.
They do the same thing with the idea that, given God’s allegedly known characteristics, it is reasonable to conclude that one of the world’s three major monotheistic religions must be correct. It’s certainly true that we ought to expect a loving, purposeful, and omnipotent deity to be communicating with us, should there be anything He (or It) wants us to know. But notice the flaw in G&T’s reasoning: if the loving, purposeful, all-wise Creator of the Universe set out to communicate truth to us, why would there be three mutually-exclusive religions competing for the title of True and Accurate Worldview?
Communication is only successful when the recipient of the message understands what is being communicated. If the message is garbled, tampered with, or unheard, the message-sender has failed to communicate. Assuming that God did try to communicate a true worldview to mankind, then, our first and most obvious observation is that God has largely failed, as demonstrated by the fact that at least two of the 3 major monotheistic religions have gotten it wrong, not to mention all the polytheists, pagans, animists, atheists, and other non-Christian alternatives out there.
A God Who had an infinite desire to communicate the truth, coupled with infinite wisdom in determining how to transmit this message intact, coupled with infinite power to implement His wise design, could not possibly fail to impart to each of us a true and accurate worldview. The fact that Geisler and Turek find it necessary to write a book about apologetics is proof of the absence of any such divine attempt, ability, or desire.
Next time, we’ll take up the classic rationalization that apologists often use to try and wiggle out of this dilemma: free will. I hope you will choose to be there. 😉