The Undeniable Fact, v2.0

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.

 
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Posted in Evidence Against Christianity, Unapologetics. 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “The Undeniable Fact, v2.0”

  1. cl Says:

    In my opinion, when somebody ascribes such high authority to their claim that they call it both “undeniable” and “fact” – and capitalize their own argument as if it were a proper noun – strict accuracy is not trivial.

    Even version 2.0 has problems. For example, to this day, I’ve still not seen your answer to my DM/FR question. Does “show up” as you use it in 2.0 refer to DM? Or FR? The inclusion of words like we and our are compatible with either. I could make assumptions, but I’d rather just ask and get a straight answer.

    DD, the irony is hilarious. Let’s say God did show up. How would we know it was God? Could be a neurological misfire. Could be an alien. Could be Satan appearing as God, again. Could be a Sudden Consciousness Projection Field. Right? Don’t you think it’s a bit unfair to ask for evidence that you’ve demonstrated consistent unwillingness to previously accept in the context of miracles?

    At the same time, it is exactly the opposite of the outcome we would expect if the Gospel Hypothesis were true,

    Sure – if you believe that God should be right here, right now, in person, on the evening news, and on magazine covers. That belief is not justified other than to say, “I say it should be that way.”

    ..transparently bogus objection..

    At least for today, that amounts to empty denial of the arguments Jayman, Facilis and myself have presented. You yourself said that denial was not a good argument. Maybe you’ll make a good argument tomorrow?

  2. GaySolomon Says:

    cl asks:

    “How would we know it was God?”

    We have abundant information about the “transfigured Christ” and how Thomas was convinced that it was Jesus:

    John 20:25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

    Jhn 20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: [then] came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace [be] unto you.

    Jhn 20:27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust [it] into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

    Jhn 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

    Jhn 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

    Jhn 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

    Jhn 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

    If we were able to see and feel the transfigured body, that would be a great start. This body was assumed into heaven (for what prupose I have no idea since heaven is an apparently non-corporeal place), but presumably the transfigured body exists even now in an uncorrupted form. I think there are any number of things we could see and experience with an interactive god that would go a long way in providing us with real world evidence to believe.

    Lucky Thomas – he had access to the transfigured Christ. We are instead offered nothing but FISH, and demands for DM and FR conditions.

    If I asked someone for proof of unicorns, should they first demand that I decide on whether it should have a spiral or straight horn? Should I need to then decide if it must be beared like a lion, or have the hind quarters of a goat? If one is asserting the existence of something – then by all means show us the very best real world evidence of it. Together we can then decide what it is.

  3. R.C Moore Says:


    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.

    I see a conflating of two different meanings of the word faith in this statement.

    Faith(1) defined as a belief based on objective evidence (“I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow, because the experience and the laws of physics are highly reliable”).

    Faith (2) defined as a belief held in spite of a lack of objective evidence, or evidence to the contrary (“I have faith my wife loves me”)

    Religious faith is faith(2), and relies not on the words of men, but the words of God. Faith (1) would require better than “gullible trust”.

    Working backwards then, if the Inescapable Consequence does not apply to the Faith(2), then is it susceptible to the Undeniable Fact? I would argue, (as I have before) no. While the fact is true, Faith(2) is not bound by it.

    Again to use my example: My wife shows no signs of love towards me that can be proven as such (non-existent, or perhaps she is lying). I am still justified in Faith(2) because without it, perhaps because I find it comforting, or it gives my life meaning.

    This is a personal justification only, of course, I cannot expect others to also find justification that my wife loves me based on Faith (2). They rightly require Faith (1).

    And that I think is the crux — for universal faith, Undeniable Fact and Inescapable Consequence hold. For personal faith, it does not.

    Which leads to George Carlin’s 11th Commandment — “Thou shall keep thy religion to thyself”

    A God that is only personal is entertaining, but the most minor of figures. Intellectually stimulating, but easily acquired, and easily thrown away. It provides a diversion for armchair philosophers, and a perceived justification for personal bigotries, but nothing more.

    A personal God has hidden attributes, to be revealed when convenient, and put far away when not.

    A personal God can be edited from Scripture, and contrived from logic.

    A personal God is immune from refutation, because he exists only in the mind of the believer, and is therefore unknowable by others.

    A personal God is only a reflection of the dreams and wishes of his Creator….

  4. GaySolomon Says:

    R.C. Moore

    Perhaps you have picked a poor example for Faith #2 – but I would suggest that pratically speaking you would normally have all kinds of objective reasons to believe that your wife does not love you. The way she avoids your glance, the unexplained absences from home late at night, the physical beatings etc…

    Now you may be misinterpreting this data, but it is still there and it is the basis of your your belief.

  5. R.C Moore Says:


    Now you may be misinterpreting this data, but it is still there and it is the basis of your your belief.

    I am trying to differentiate your skepticism about my belief (which requires evidence) and my acceptance without belief (because to demand it would shatter my world).

    I suggest it would not be a good thing for all husbands to hire private detectives to follow their wives around to establish the love. For this reason my faith, based on the rejection of the requirement for evidence is justified.

    It you agree, as I suspect many other would, that the private detective is a bad idea, then you are acknowledging the concept of faith without evidence as being justified in some way.

  6. R.C Moore Says:


    The way she avoids your glance, the unexplained absences from home late at night, the physical beatings etc…

    I could also rationalize, as some do, the such behavior is proof of my wife’ love.

    Faith(2) is irrational faith, remember. I am only addressing the issue of justification.

  7. cl Says:

    GaySolomon,

    Cancer is better prevented than combatted. I’d love to answer the questions in your last paragraph, but you’ve disrespected me and DD with personal remarks and/or attacks before, so I’m going to choose to mostly ignore your questions (and you), because I am a rationalist and I have no evidence to sustain the hypothesis that this transaction would be any different than previous transactions with you. Still, I’ll say your argument fails because you can’t prove the transfigured Christ wasn’t an alien or some malevolent being simply masquerading as a beneficent one. The keen reader will note I’m simply using an adapted paraphrase of DD’s argument against ascription of causality to miracle claims.

  8. Eneasz Says:

    RC – Personally, I can’t conceive of any situation in which Faith(2) is a good thing. It should always be avoided and rejected. I would want Faith(1) that my wife loves me. Having Faith(2) means that it’s entirely possible that I am living a lie. Truth is always preferable to delusion.

    A PI is not necessary to establish Faith(1). In fact, PIs are generally hired because someone has realized their Faith is of the (2) variety and can’t bear to admit it to themselves.

    As an aside, if you didn’t have Faith(1) that the woman loves you, why would you propose in the first place? (assuming you proposed out of love, and not a desire to marry into wealth or something)

    cl – you said:
    How would we know it was God? Could be a neurological misfire. Could be an alien. Could be Satan appearing as God, again. Could be a Sudden Consciousness Projection Field. Right?

    DD has addressed this before. Your objection is a tacit admission that God really does not show up in real life. The way DD put it (paraphrasing): if your father came over for dinner, how would you even know it was your father? All the same objections apply. However to object that you don’t really know it’s your father is considered pathologically absurd, precisely because your father does show up enough in real life that his appearance in real life is not immediately suspect.

    If God showed up in real life as often as someone’s father, or even the farmer I’ve never met who grew the food I ate this morning, you wouldn’t raise the “how do you really know it’s God?” objection, it would be silly.

    Also, the “again” provided a much-needed laugh. :)

  9. GaySolomon Says:

    cl writes:

    …you’ve disrespected me…

    Respect cannot be learned, purchased or acquired – it can only be earned.

    I let other readers decide for themselves whether or not your tactics on this site have earned respect.

  10. Deacon Duncan Says:

    cl —

    My apologies, I must have missed the question when you asked me which of “FR” or “DM” is meant by showing up. It’s also possible that I saw it and just lost it in the crush. You mentioned reading through the backlog, so I expect you have some sympathy for the position I was in. There are large swatches of comments from the late winter and early spring that I still have not caught up on.

    In any case, let me remedy the omission by answering your question now. The most accurate answer would be “whichever of the two best describes God taking on human flesh and dwelling among men as a human for 33 years, the last 3 of which He spends in public ministry.” However I think you are handing me a lose-lose situation by offering DM and FR as the only two alternatives to choose from. Let’s see, shall I define “showing up” as “that which is indetectable because it is some isolated, unremarkable, and remote ‘appearance’ socially and geographically,” or as “that which is indetectable because it occurs at some remote distance in the future”? Seems to me, you’d have me defining “show up” as “not really show up.” I’d prefer to define it in terms of making it possible for us to observe Him in real life. Is that really so very biased and unreasonable of me?

  11. Deacon Duncan Says:

    By the way, the irony is indeed quite striking. I agree, the problem of how to make Himself recognizable to His own children is an obstacle far too difficult for the Christian God to overcome. Mere human parents solve this problem so routinely that few of them are even aware it’s a problem, with the possible exception of those deadbeat dads (and moms) who never show up to spend any time relating to their children tangibly and in person. But the Christian God does indeed lack the capacity to implement the solution that ordinary mortals employ.

  12. jim Says:

    Perhaps we should extend the hypothetical omni-characteristics to include omni-intangibility, omni-invisibility, and omni-non-participatory.

  13. cl Says:

    GaySolomon,

    I figured you’d totally avoid taking any responsibility for your own actions, and as far as earning respect goes, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

    Esneaz,

    ..the “again” provided a much-needed laugh.

    This provided me with a much-needed laugh:

    Your objection is a tacit admission that God really does not show up in real life.

    That shows me how poorly you’ve been paying attention to the actual arguments that have been advanced here in the past few months.

    DD,

    ..I expect you have some sympathy for the position I was in.

    Of course. I’ve got it 5X as bad as you. I can also sympathize with your dislike of what Final Revelation implies, and I’m willing to modify my argument to soften its impact. I asked you if by ‘showing up’ you meant FR or DM only to be sure exactly what you meant when you proffered your so-called Undeniable Fact. If you meant to say it’s an undeniable fact that God has never shown up to anyone a la DM, I submit that you’re crazy because nobody can possibly know that, so we can’t call it a fact. And no – for all those around here who love to jump to conclusions – this does not entail that we must accept Lasagne Trees, airplane food that tastes good or any other logical implausibilities. However, if you meant only to say it’s an undeniable fact that humanity is not currently and collectively amidst God’s unmistakable, sun-like presence in a sense that leaves zero room for doubt or disagreement – then I agree with you that God’s current absence in that sense is an undeniable fact. Does that help clarify anything?

    Also, know that I’ve not said or implied that you’re biased and/or unreasonable because you prefer to define ‘God showing up’ in terms of making it possible for us to observe God in real life. Where I disagree and feel that you are being both biased and unreasonable is in your claim that God’s current absence constitutes evidence against God’s existence.

  14. Eneasz Says:

    Where I disagree and feel that you are being both biased and unreasonable is in your claim that God’s current absence constitutes evidence against God’s existence.

    More out of curiosity than anything else… what would (for you) constitute evidence against God’s existence if his current absence (and evidence for past absence) doesn’t?

  15. R. C. Moore Says:


    More out of curiosity than anything else… what would (for you) constitute evidence against God’s existence if his current absence (and evidence for past absence) doesn’t?

    This is a good question to ask; I would pose it as “what about reality as we know it would we expect to be different if God did not exist?”

  16. R. C. Moore Says:

    Esneaz said:

    A PI is not necessary to establish Faith(1). In fact, PIs are generally hired because someone has realized their Faith is of the (2) variety and can’t bear to admit it to themselves.

    Ah, so that explains why Apologetic’s have such a thriving business trying to defend Christianity. :)


    As an aside, if you didn’t have Faith(1) that the woman loves you, why would you propose in the first place?

    Because love is blind? People are irrational, you must admit. 95% of the planet believes in a God, I have heard. But not the same one. An expected result of Faith(2), I guess, a problem not found in Faith (1)

    My poor example aside, I still see a problem with substituting Faith (1) for Faith (2) in DD’s example, for those who only hold a personal faith.

    These are the exceptions, I admit.

  17. cl Says:

    DD,

    Let me know if my comment May 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm helped clarify anything, and if you’re planning on accepting or declining my offer to resolve this discussion. If yes, let’s sort out the details and set the date. If no, perhaps I’ll post the first thousand words or so of my rebuttal. Whatever the case, I’m ready to move forward when you are.

  18. Tom Says:

    This is a good question to ask; I would pose it as “what about reality as we know it would we expect to be different if God did not exist?”

    If god didn’t exist in our reality, we wouldn’t expect anything about it to be different, since it, being reality, would be entirely consistent with his absence (unless you don’t take consistency of reality as you experience it to be axiomatic, of course). If one could define anything about observable reality that would be different from what we currently observe if god did not exist, that would in fact prove his existence – it seems the question, at least as you pose it, in fact takes the existence of god in our universe to be axiomatic.

    No one could argue for or against such an axiom directly (that’s the infuriating thing about axioms); what one could do, however, is to show it to be inconsistent with other axioms (but only, unfortunately, by taking logic itself as an axiom and excluding it from such disprovability – for the sake of sanity, I’ll assume we both at least hold logic to be axiomatically sound) – and the axiomatic existence of most currently popular gods as they are commonly defined is basically incompatible with the axioms of naturalism (which are what I also define as empirical rationalism – your definitions of rationalism or empiricism may be different; if they are, please share them so we can avoid misunderstanding one another), which are (at least, as I see them) that the universe (that is, the ongoing sensory perception I experience) can be described by self-consistent mechanisms of minimal necessary complexity (there’s our friend, Occam) that generate repeatably detectable patterns under statistical analysis (i.e. physical laws) – the existence of any typical god, defined to be an agent of a complexity exceeding anything else possible, unbound by any such physical laws and thus impossible to subject to repeatable statistical analysis, whose underlying mechanism (or, rather, whose mind) is unknowable and so cannot be shown to have consistency, simply isn’t compatible with any of the above.

    If (again, as mentioned above, assuming axiomatic logicality) your definition of being a rationalist is the same as I have just outlined, you cannot simultaneously hold the existence, in fact even the possibility of existence, of god, as commonly defined, to be axiomatic. You may have some other definition of god that is compatible with the axioms of rationalism (or vice versa) but it would not be the commonly held one and so I hope you’ll excuse me for not addressing it – if indeed you have such a definition, I’d quite like to know what it is.

  19. R. C. Moore Says:

    Tom —

    Your second paragraph may be the longest sentence I have ever read. :)

    The question is posed to the theist (if that makes a difference). And it is entirely empirical in nature — what objective evidence could we observe if God did not exist, if you believe God does exist.

    So, yeah, it is a logic trap, that exposes any claims the theist may have to the reality (meaning our reality) of God. They are free to play in other realities (whatever that means)

    Any description of God based in reality will show him to be consistent with a reality without God.

    It is a plea to end Apologetics. Faith is just that. Don’t hold other people to it.

  20. Tom Says:

    Yikes, I really did write a single sentence paragraph! Technically, however, the sentence itself is quite short, and the actual assertion contained therein is quite simple – it’s all the bracketed qualifications that bloat it out. Sorry about that, but I’ve found that in any discussion of this nature, especially (but by absolutely no means exclusively) when the ever-rigorous yet sometimes enigmatic cl is involved, you’ve really got to set everything out as explicitly and comprehensively as possible from the outset. If you don’t, you generally just end up having a flaming row that isn’t even caused by any actual disagreement, but by sheer mutual bafflement caused by variations in personal terminology that only get noticed after everyone’s well and truly pissed off with each other.