Claiming omniscienceMarch 23, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
Cl’s argument with me continues:
A God Who is willing and able to show up in real life is a God Who is willing and able to be found by those who seek Him.
That’s your opinion of what God should be. Why should I be constrained by your opinion of what God should be?
I make no arguments about what God should or should not be, I merely observe the logical consequences implied by Christian premises. It is logically inconsistent to claim both that God is willing and able to show up in real life, and that He is unwilling or unable to be found by those who seek Him. The whole point of the Gospel is for people to find God. If God’s absence prevents men from finding Him, or worse, results in them thinking they’ve found Him when they really haven’t, and if God is willing and able to solve this problem by showing up, then everybody ought to be able to find God. And they ought to all be finding the same One.
God’s failure to show up in real life is a factor that has many direct and inevitable consequences. Even if we cannot feasibly be in all places and at all times in order to observe 100% of the circumstances under which God might be “showing up undetected” (as it were), we can still measure His failure to show up by observing the prevalence of the consequences that must inevitably result from His absence.
I don’t think cl has quite grasped this point, because he seems to be arguing that the brute force approach is the only way we can learn whether God shows up in real life or not.
Therefore I state, not just as my personal opinion, but as an empirical, verifiable, Undeniable Fact, that God does not show up in real life.
There’s no way you can know that unilaterally without being omniscient, and I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree here. I happen to believe what I believe, which is that you are wrong, but I’m not going to try and force my belief, my personal opinion down your throat as “Undeniable Fact” because that’s intellectually dishonest. By appealing to omniscience, you will always produce this disconnect with people like me. Why don’t you just state what you believe instead of claiming to know what you cannot possibly know? Reality is not yours, and you are not reality’s exclusive spokesperson.
By his own standards, cl is claiming omniscience when he claims that there is no way, other than brute force examination, for us to know whether or not God shows up in real life. Notice, he’s not just saying, “I don’t know of any way to do it,” he’s claiming that he knows that no such way exists. It’s an exact parallel to me claiming to know that no objective manifestation of God exists. And because he knows that no such way exists, he knows that when I claim to observe that God does not show up in real life, I must necessarily be employing a technique that would require omniscience. He makes no allowance at all for the possibility that there might be some means, of which he is ignorant, that does not require a brute force enumeration of all possible appearances.
If cl is not omniscient, then he ought to realize that there’s a difference between not knowing a means exists, and knowing that no means exists. His argument is an easy argument to defeat, because all I have to do is produce an example of a means that would allow us to detect God’s failure to show up in real life without taking a brute force approach, and I’ve already produced a few. We can take Christian premises and derive the consequences that would logically ensue were God to have the motives, character, and abilities ascribed to Him, and document that we do not see these consequences manifesting in real life.
We can observe that people who “find God” tend to find a variety of Gods, from the monotheistic deity of the Jews to the trinitarian deity of traditional Christians, to the polytheistic deity of the Mormons, to the gay-loving God of homosexual Christians to the “fag-hating” God of Fred Phelps, to the America-hating God of bin Ladin, etc. etc. And we can observe that any randomly-selected sample of people who think they’ve found God universally turns out to be based either on fraud, or on purely subjective, psychosocial factors like Fantasy, Intuition, Superstition and Hearsay—not on God actually showing up outside of human minds, tangibly and personally real, and able to be seen, touched, photographed and recorded.
We can also observe logical inconsistencies in the basic stories Christians tell about their God, inconsistencies that indicate the stories are not really true, and that we would not therefore expect their God to be able to show up in real life. We can see apologists like Geisler and Turek repeating known-false claims, like the claim that Jesus’ body was under guard the whole time, without any Holy Spirit moving any believer to stand up and say, “Hey, that’s wrong, Matthew says they didn’t even ask for a guard until more than 24 hours later.” We can see early Christian writers getting rid of their “risen” Lord by portraying him as ascending into a Heaven that, as we now know, isn’t up there.
But most of all, each and every one of us can confirm, by direct, personal observation, that God does not show up in his or her life, in person, outside of subjective, mental/emotional, psychosocial “experiences.” Even cl can confirm this.
So, while I do not, in fact, employ the kind of brute force approach that would require omniscience to conclude that God is absent, I do have a wide array of other approaches, each supplying a vast body of evidence that is fully consistent with God’s absence, and inconsistent with the idea that He shows up in real life in order to meet His own goal of having people find Him.