The Undeniable Fact, v2.0May 27, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
I have a strict policy of not banning people for disagreeing with me, and that’s because discussing things with my opponents often helps me clarify and improve my own presentation. In that vein, I’d like to present Version 2.0 of the Undeniable Fact (and its Inescapable Consequence).
One of the things that came out during the discussion with Jayman and cl is that they immediately focused on what I consider to be a trivial irrelevancy: the notion that we cannot know, in the sense of having first-hand personal experience, that every single allegedly divine manifestation is necessarily a false perception. We spent quite a bit of time arguing over the significance of the consistency of the evidence we can observe, but no amount of evidence or logic could sway them from their faith that God could be hiding somewhere just outside the range of our vision.
This is an irrelevant distraction, because a God Who hides just outside the limits of our perception still leaves us subject to the Inescapable Consequence: in God’s absence, our only option is to put our faith in the unsupported and contradictory claims of men—a practice that boils down to mere gullibility, not evidence-based faith. The objections of Jayman and cl are a clear-cut case of the difference between proving something beyond a reasonable doubt, and proving it beyond all conceivable doubts. So long as they can conceive of a doubt about my conclusions, they will reject them in favor of their own.
With that in mind, here is Version 2.0:
It is an Undeniable Fact that we do not see God (i.e. the Christian God) showing up in real life, outside human fantasies, intuitions, superstitions, hearsay, and other subjective psychosocial functions that constitute a worldview (as opposed to the real world). Because of this Undeniable Fact, we cannot escape the Inescapable Consequence: so-called faith in God can never be more than gullible trust in the words of men.
This version is an improvement over the earlier version, because it focuses the attention on the key point of the real-world fact. Whether or not we can imagine the hypothetical possibility of God popping in for tangible manifestations on the dark side of the moon, totally unobserved by man, it is nevertheless true that we do not see Him showing up in real life, and that this absence from our lives has profound and inescapable implications for our thoughts and beliefs about Him. We do not have what we honestly need in order to experience a genuine relationship with Him.
This, incidentally, is precisely the outcome that would logically result from the Myth Hypothesis being true. It is not only plausible, but inevitable, that God’s non-existence would result in His absence from our observations of the real world. At the same time, it is exactly the opposite of the outcome we would expect if the Gospel Hypothesis were true, since we would have to assume that real world conditions are the result of a deliberate decision by God not to allow us to have any legitimate, non-gullible, and objectively reasonable basis for believing He even exists. That’s a contradiction of the stipulation that God wants each of us to have a genuine, personal, eternal relationship with Him, and therefore the available evidence is not consistent with the Gospel Hypothesis.
Tomorrow I want to look (again) at the Gospel Hypothesis and to address the transparently bogus objection that is being raised in opposition to it. Stay tuned.