Monday, May 9, 2011

Written Mar '10: Last Lines of Reasoning

A common last line of reasoning is “you can’t logic your way into God.” Christian’s say that God’s mind is so much greater than ours, so it makes sense that we wouldn’t be able to figure him out. Christians strangely don’t seem bothered by the fact that you also can’t logic your way into Buddha, Santa Claus, Harry Potter, etc. To me this is cause for alarm. If I were to make a list of one million fictitious characters and include Jesus on that list, they would all have in common the fact that you can’t logic your way into their existence. We would readily dismiss arguments supporting each character’s existence once the arguments were found to be illogical. But for some reason, Jesus gets to be the sole exception to that rule (according to Christians).

Another common last line of reasoning, which I call the inferiority argument, is, “If God exists, His mind would be so much greater than ours that we couldn’t possibly figure Him or His ways out.” I agree with this, but Christians seem to apply this reasoning out-of-bounds. Let me explain. If there is indeed a spiritual realm that is superior to the physical realm that we live in, then that spiritual realm would indeed be beyond what our puny minds can comprehend. However, when it comes to the physical realm, we’re very capable of understanding facts. This is our home territory. When a claim is made about the spiritual realm, that claim can only be spiritually verified (whatever that entails). But when a claim is made about the physical realm, we’re very capable of verifying it. Many claims are classified as spiritual, when in reality they deal with our physical realm. Take for example the claim that prayer is effective; this is claiming that prayer affects our physical world. We are very capable of physically confirming or disconfirming this claim. The inferiority argument is out-of-bounds here because the claim has been made about physical things, not just spiritual things. If we conduct the investigation and conclude that the physical aspects of the claim were false, it’s silly to say, “but spiritual things are so far beyond our comprehension” because we were investigating physical things, not spiritual. The Bible is not in a great position to use the inferiority argument, since it deals extensively in the physical realm. The physical aspects of the Bible’s claims can be tested in the physical world, and can’t rely on the inferiority argument for immunity against disconfirmation. If every religion was excused from living up to its physical claims, there would be no telling which ones were false.

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