In the preceding post I attempted to refute the idea that anyone can consider the question of God’s existence to be trivial. While it seems to be a question of utmost importance to theists and atheists alike, there are some who find themselves feeling blase about it. I hope those who find themselves indifferent will become convinced that the question is worth exploring.
Granting that the question is important – how to begin?
The second obstacle I have noticed is that many A&A (agnostics and atheists) have not really considered who God is, or who God would be if he existed. They often set up a strawman, or a teapot, and suppose that by logic or mockery they have eliminated the possibility of God’s existence.
But I can’t put all of the blame for this particular fallacy on the skeptics. They typically reference believers whom they know, and point out the sorts of things those believers do and say (Westboro Baptist comes to mind as an extreme example, but the bulk of the criticism is aimed at more mundane practices). Believers are not well represented, for example, in suggesting that the athletic team of their choice was specially chosen by God to win a particular contest. This is not because the thing is necessarily false, but because it too often represents a high water mark of the person’s religious expression.
So in the first place, we had a misplacement of malaise; now we have a deficiency in discernment. If we want to argue over the existence of a God who resembles a teapot and principally brings his power to bear on sporting events – well, I don’t much care for that debate, either.
What, then, are we talking about?
It has been noted that some cosmologists – the late Carl Sagan appears to be a prime example – deify the Universe in the absence of a belief in God. And not without cause. Newton and Einstein – scientists who have lent their names to models of nature – both regarded the Universe as something unimaginably complex and deep – and ordered.
Some skeptics point to our size – our physical bodies, the size of our planet, even the location of our solar system in the galaxy – and appeal to the unimaginable immensity of the Universe by comparison. Their point being, of course, that our insignificant size and location correspond to any possible significance we might have in the purpose of the Universe, a point easily dismissed. Yet the skeptics and I agree, in any case, that the size of the Universe is actually far, far beyond our comprehension, much the way we cannot really comprehend infinity. Much less could we comprehend the power that set it in motion (whether natural or supernatural).
If we consider just these two categories of things – that is, the complexity, depth, and order of the Universe, and again, the size of the Universe and the kind of power required to set it in motion – we will have two things to say about God, starting from the premise that He created everything seen and unseen. We may say that God is all-knowing and all-powerful.
This is not how one begins a description of a teapot.