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God of the Fog: Dismissing the Impossible

By Harry J. Bentham ~

However vitriolic it might seem, “hard” atheism dismissing deities as impossible is more than justified. My justification for the harder form of atheism is that that the theistic claim contains a profound lack of precision, and requires this lack of precision to be received by anyone.

Watching that old question on YouTube ( demanding atheism prove its “accuracy” got me thinking about “accuracy”, its value in explanations, and how the accuracy test proves the ineptitude of deities for explaining the origin of the universe. Theism must necessarily be highly inaccurate, the problem being that it depends on us looking at the universe with the poorest standard of accuracy for its arguments to work at all. The theist’s own consistent need for a lack of accuracy makes the theistic claim the most asinine possible assertion that any person could ever make. And the theistic claim isn’t just a claim promoted despite its inaccuracy, it’s a claim promoted because of its inaccuracy. Belief in a god must necessarily be inaccurate. Inaccuracy of the hand placing the god-label is completely necessary for the god-label to be used at all. The god-label needs to be placed inaccurately to actually approach being credible for believers. Only then can the label be justified: if the deity is to stay a deity, it must be impossible to scrutinize; for the deity to be impossible to scrutinize, the label needs to be placed inaccurately from the outset.

The idea of a deity that cannot be comprehended, that must rest forever obscured from our investigation, is by definition something that can never be accurately perceived. As a result, claims that a deity exists will always amount to speculations of the most degraded level of accuracy imaginable. We can say that theism isn’t simply one of many possible mistaken positions – it is the single most mistaken position any person can ever have in the universe.

The idea of a deity that cannot be comprehended, that must rest forever obscured from our investigation, is by definition something that can never be accurately perceivedGod is and will always be nothing more a primitive, malformed label to make sense of something not otherwise understood. Identification of a deity is always dependent on a lack of clear information about the deity, much like a shape seen through a fractured pane of glass or a glimmer of light perceived through dense fog. The god-label is effectively part of a reductionist paradigm designed to provide a simplistic interpretation of the world, in ignorance of its complexity. It bypasses any need for accurately investigating the universe, in favor of the least accurate explanation that could possibly be suggested.

A similar but less painful reductionist claim, next to the god claim, would tell us there are only four elements (air, fire, water and earth) and the periodic table is wrong. Yes, the four elements exist, just like a universe-creating deity exists, but only if the accuracy of your view is deliberately poor and you think having an inaccurate perception is good because it makes your world easier to understand. This is why the subject of accuracy is so important when we talk about this debate. The apparent four elements are obvious, and much easier for us to visualize, just as the interpretation that a deity created the universe is easier to process than the interpretation that some vast nigh-incomprehensible processes gave rise to the cosmos. It isn’t that the model of four elements is flatly “wrong”. It is simply inaccurate (imprecise) to the point that it has no utility. The god-label is known by its own users to lack precision, because it provides no details and adheres to no definitions, whereas every correct label has details and adheres to definitions, so the god-label must not only be imprecise but always wrong.

The statement that a deity might exist is false because the god-label still has no definition to use to indicate anything. A being beyond our comprehension, fitting a label that never indicated anything, exists? If it is incomprehensible, then any god-label for such a being is mistaken. There can be no precision at all in measuring something incomprehensible - a deity that cannot be known to us with any degree of detail. If something’s existence requires such a level of inaccuracy and incomprehension at every stage of its explanation, then it is always going to be totally impossible that it could exist, because anything that can possibly exist can be hypothesized with at least some level of detail. Absent that minimal detail, then the entity being described is actually not even close to being hypothesized.

Everything that exists can be scrutinized, at least in theory, whereas any claimed deity must cease to be considered a deity as soon as it came forward and was scrutinized. It would be demoted to a mere phenomenon, if we could examine it. We would not refer to something as a deity if we identified what it is made of, how large it is, what its limits are, how old it is or any other precise data. This line of reasoning pushes deities in a shifting fog of incomprehension, where scrutiny is not yet possible, perceiving the deity with any precision is not yet possible, and the deity must be perceived only as a blur with the very poorest attention to accuracy. The deity must never be perceived accurately, or it will become profane and we will lose our compulsion to worship it. The deity must be a blur of light with an origin we can’t see, or it isn’t really a deity. But every time we look closer and investigate the blur of light, we find it is coming from something that is not a deity. It is not difficult to extrapolate further, and conclude that the very definition being used for deities is so imprecise that we may discard any possibility that the label could someday be attached to a thing. If something’s definition keeps shifting so you can never examine the thing itself, you are justified in concluding that the thing can never possibly be identified, because it has no credible definition anyway. In sum, you are justified in concluding that deities are completely impossible, because the god-label has no meaning. What’s to be real, if the word itself indicates nothing?

If something must be perpetually labelled with poor attention to accuracy, for the label to stay justified, then the label is not justified and it will never be justified. If a label can never be affixed to anything we can possibly examine, the label is describing a thing that does not exist. The god-label must sit in the fog of ignorance and constantly route back to itself in circular arguments, in the attempt to find a justification.