The Undeniable Fact and its Inescapable ConsequenceMay 26, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Vox Day has a question for atheists:
What is your primary reason or argument for asserting the nonexistence of God? Blackblade, for example, once mentioned the inferior design of the human body as being one reason for his doubts, which is a subject of some interest to me. I’m just curious about those that are outside of the eight general ones I addressed in TIA.
Technically speaking, I’m a pantheistic realist, but since my God is Reality itself, perhaps that’s close enough to atheism to make my response relevant. As a former Christian actively involved in studying, practicing, and sharing the Christian faith, I have given a great deal of thought to the question of what the evidence tells us about God. My conclusions can be stated in terms of one Undeniable Fact and its Inescapable Consequence, as understood in light of the fundamental principle that truth is consistent with itself.
The Undeniable Fact is that God does not show up in real life. People “find” God in their subjective feelings and imaginations, and they superstitiously give God credit for the surprising happenstances of everyday life, but God Himself does not show up, not for saints nor sinners, not for rich nor poor, nor even for the penitent, the suffering, and the needy. This is undeniably true, in that people can claim that God “shows up” in some sense, but they cannot truthfully and literally claim that God shows up.
The Inescapable Consequence of this Undeniable Fact is that anyone who wishes to talk about God can only speak of the things men say and think and feel and imagine. One cannot have faith in God, because God does not show up to put our faith in; the most anyone can ever do is to put their faith in the things men say and think and feel and imagine about God.
This is important because the main thing Christians say about God is that He loves us and wants to be with us, in a personal, face-to-face, eternal relationship. Not only that, but according to the Gospel, God loves us and wants that relationship so badly that He became human Himself, preached the Word, died on the Cross, and rose again from the dead, just so that it would be possible to be with us forever. The most fundamental and obvious consequence that would result if these things were true is that God would show up to participate in that relationship. He wants it, His power has made it possible, and the Cross has eliminated the last barrier that separated us from Him, therefore He ought to be showing up.
What we have, then, is a God who does not show up in real life, and in His absence, men are putting their faith in the things men say and think and feel and imagine about God, even though those things are not consistent with what we find in real life. To believe someone when they tell you things that are not consistent with reality is not faith, but gullibility. A loving God would not put His children in a position where their salvation depended on a faith they cannot possibly acquire. He would not leave them with no alternative but to make themselves aggressively gullible.
If we examine the facts relating to God’s absence, and the inconsistencies in the things men say about Him in His absence, we can reasonably and reliably conclude that the Gospel men preach is not a true Gospel. Acknowledging this simple fact opens the door to an amazing flood of conclusions that not only make sense, but explain the curious quirks of religious experience with a logical coherence that puts the tortured rationalizations of Christian apologetics to shame.
When I first realized that the resurrection story wasn’t necessarily literally true, my first reaction was pain and grief. Since that day, however, I have been delighted with how neatly and coherently things fall into place when you don’t need to force them to fit into a Christian worldview. Truth is consistent with itself. All we need to do is let it be what it is.