11/19/2012 | Share this article:By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~
I recently came across a comment on the richarddawkins.net site by “Stewman_Phil” that I found extremely clever. Phil’s essential argument is that no particular god can be proven to exist. I think he may slightly overstate his case, but I think it works if we add the clause, “at this time.” By this I mean that, given the available evidence at this time, no particular god can be proven to exist. Now, if some god chose to take some action in the future to prove his existence unequivocally, then all bets are off.
To illustrate, like Phil, I will propose there is a god named Joe. Now, whatever is claimed for Bible-god, Joe did. Joe created the universe in seven days, Joe created man and woman and all the plants and animals, Joe caused his son to be born of a virgin, Joe created hell and dictated the Bible. But Joe loves screwing with people, so he also created an angel to talk to Mohammed, and led Joseph Smith to those golden plates.
You see, whatever is claimed by any prophet of any god, Joe actually is responsible. That is, even if you could prove something, anything, said about Bible-god in the Bible was true, Joe could still be the real god. Thus, any “evidence” one could put forth for any god, I can claim for Joe. Whatever you say your god did, I say, “No, that was actually Joe.” Thus, there is no evidence you can bring up which could prove your god is the real god, and not Joe.
But it gets even better. What if there’s a god exactly like Joe, except he delivered Jesus to the earth in an egg laid by the Virgin Mary. There is nothing in the Bible to counter this theory. So, the real god is not Yahweh, or Joe, but Tom. Or, I could propose a god called Dick, who did everything Joe and Tom did, but he also created a race of frustrated, genital-less humanoids on a planet circling a distant sun.
As you may have guessed by now, by adding a tweak here or there to the basic story of Joe, we could propose an infinite number of particular gods to account for every piece of “evidence” claimed for any and all gods ever proposed. Thus, no god can possibly be proven to be the “One True God.“ If you’re going to believe in a particular god, then it must be taken on faith. If you believe a particular god is the “real” god, then you have simply made an assumption that it’s not Joe (or Tom or Dick, etc.), because you can’t possibly prove it, even in principal.
No god can possibly be proven to be the “One True God.“ If you’re going to believe in a particular god, then it must be taken on faith.The Christian will claim to get around all of this, and to know his god exists, because he can feel him in his heart. The Hindu makes the same claim for Krishna, but I feel no god in my heart. So these believers are betting everything on a test which produces different results depending on who runs the test. What sort of people would have confidence in such an inconsistent, undependable test? People who aren’t too careful how they go about finding the truth, perhaps?
No, I don’t think Joe or any other god exists. I could be wrong about that, but Phil has convinced me that no one can possibly prove the existence of any particular god given the evidence existing at this time. It just isn’t logical to believe in any particular god, since that would be nothing but an assumption. For all anyone knows, or could know, Joe is the real god . . . or Tom, or Dick - if, that is, one insists on assuming there is a god. As for myself, I’m with Laplace, in that I see no need for that hypothesis.