Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Touch of Brilliance & A Flood of Truth From MavPhil


  1. So at the end of all the words of multiple syllables: choose either to believe there is no God or that there is a God. Both are rationally defensible, neither can be proved in any logical sense, therefore it is down to raw choice.

    Then I must ask: how can anyone be held accountable for choosing wrongly? One or the other must be true. Therefore you may choose incorrectly; how then can anyone be held accountable for that erroneous choice?

    If one is held accountable for the wrong choice then what sort of justice, sets before a man two indistinguishable choices and then blames & punishes that man for making the wrong one?

    If God exists and has set up the universe to force this choice, but the choice does not come with a consequence, then why bother making it?

    It seems we either have an unjust God, which is problematic in the extreme or the most basic of decisions does not actually matter in the end.

    I'm sure you have a way out of this, I'm just wondering what that is.

  2. Well, I don't think that God 'sets up' the universe so we are forced to make choices about whether He exists. I believe that being such a universe is the result of what God is, and the limitations that God faces in interacting with the universe. So it's not like God 'set up' the universe this way. It is the result of our own limits and God's.

    As for there being consequences, I think there are huge consequences, not the least of which is whether or not one lives life to the fullest here in this world. Plus there are consequences for God.

    To give an analogy, I am in the same situation in regards to God's existence that I am in regards to my dog's mind. One great question in philosophy is what is the mind. In particular, what makes phenomenal consciousness 'happen'? There are numerous answers to this question, and the debate rages endlessly. Some theories of consciousness or mind exclude animals as having conscious experience. Animals may act like they 'feel' things, but they really don't. That is because for some people consciousness supervenes on language and on a level of reflectivity and even tool use found only in humans. Now, I don't believe this. But I would not want to debate a scientist or philosopher who holds to this view, because I know enough to know that their arguments are good. Not conclusive but good.

    The same thing is true, though, of the dualist. A dualist about mind has as many good arguments for their position as a materialist, or an epiphenomenalist, or any other number of thinkers. I'm not a dualist. But again, I know enough to know that I don't really know, ya know? Now, what accounts for mind may be highly abstract and theoretical in philosophy. In life, it is very concrete and very consequential. I believe my dog has a mind. I believe my dog feels, and experiences pain, in some vague way similar to the way I do. My entire relationship with my dog is predicated on this belief. Yet I know enough to know, that this belief is brought under question by the debates in philosophy about what mind IS. In the end, I have to choose whether I believe my relationship with my dog is genuine, and whether it matters if my dog suffers, etc.

    You see there are huge consequences to what one believes in this matter. Consequences for me, for my relationships, and for my dog. But only for my dog if I'm right. If I'm wrong, there is no consequence for my dog, but only for me. In the same way, I have a relationship with God. I love God, I talk to God, God talks to me, etc. I know enough to know that my experiences of God can be brought into question, that I don't really know, only believe. I also know I have to choose whether I am going to trust what seems to be true to me, as I have to choose with my dog. In the latter case the choice is whether the feelings my dog seems to exhibit are genuine feelings, and so whether my relationship with him is also genuine. In the case of God the choice is whether my experiences of God are genuine, and so whether my relationship with HIM is also genuine.

    So there is a choice to be made in both cases. Both involve a philosophical background that brings the beliefs into questions. Both involve relationships. Both are consequential.