I Say Potato, You Say God. Part 1.
Every once in a while, I try to communicate with a theistic philosopher. Not necessarily someone who writes the stuff, but someone who has no problem believing it, and promoting it. I don’t know why I do this, I am old enough to know better. Talking to a person in this camp is like trying to talk to someone across the room, only the room is a machine shop. We just don’t make sense to each other. It’s like we’re both speaking English, but somehow it’s two different languages.
Someone says to you, “If W, X, and Y are false, and Z is true, then God must exist. I reject W, X, and Y, Therefore God exists.” What’s the first thing that comes to mind to ask? If you’re me, you ask, “Why do you reject W, X, and Y?” Or, “What is the logical basis for your rejection of W, X, and Y?”
Now, I must admit that I was not that direct in asking the question. I attempt to keep things a little on the light side. I mean no disrespect, I am just trying to relate the topic to a general human condition, and hopefully be engaging and add a little entertainment value. Most people, when they encounter a frozen lake, do not ponder the thermodynamic properties of the water molecule, they think about skating. I can be disrespectful and even belligerent at times, but I try only to do this when the emotional content of the material justifies an emotional response of like nature. When one attempts to communicate in a non-propagandist fashion, I try to respect the spirit of the discussion, if not the content.
This was the response to my question.
“Suffice it to say that one needn't give the reasons for p when one is more interested in the conditional relation between, say, p and q; in such a case, the truth of p is suspended. Further, I do think I have good reasons for my beliefs, so I don't think I'm ultimately in any hot water.”
“... the truth of p is suspended”? By what? Wonder Woman’s golden lasso? Sorry. When I parse this, it comes down to, “I’m not going to tell you.” Fair enough, but do you see my point that it’s like we’re speaking two different languages? I think the confusion comes from the fact that we look at life in two extremely different ways. The point of divergence, and that which we have in common, is that each of us thinks the other is in denial.
From his point of view:
I deny God
I deny the necessity of God, and that God is a necessary or sufficient explanation for anything that happens in our four-dimensional space-time continuum.
I deny the evidence for God, believing that it is insufficient, delusional, and/or fraudulent.
From my point of view:
He denies that there are alternative explanations for the nature of man and the environment.
He denies that the God he postulates violates the natural laws of the Universe, and must therefore be external to the Universe and as such, is incomprehensible.
He denies that a tribe of semi-prehistoric nomads invented a God that was simply a tool to promote subservience to the hierarchy of local authority, be they Chieftains, Shamans, Kings, or Priests.
Not a lot of common ground. Even if one of us is right about the other one being in denial, there is going to be a lot of resistance to those things that we are refusing to see. From my point of view, those things that I am refusing to see are not really there, and hence can not really be seen at all, only imagined. In part 2, I’ll explore the reasons that I think this way, and some of the problems that I have with the opposite argument. I’d be interested in sharing thoughts on the matter, and I will attempt to refrain from turning this into a meta-argument.