Many of the things that it is supposed that God could have done to make his existence perfectly evident could be passed off as the work of powerful (but evolved) aliens. And no matter how much evidence God provides, there is some additional piece of evidence that an atheist could say God didn't provide, and if God really cared for us, he would have provided. The amount of evidence God could have provided has no intrinsic maximum.Vic made this comment in this discussion. Like other apologists who have an invested stake in being apologists he won't be convinced otherwise, but since there are Christians who want to be honest with their faith I'll respond.
The argument goes like this I think:
- If atheists could explain away as the work of aliens many of the things God could do to make his existence perfectly evident, then many things God could do to convince atheists still would not work.
- Atheists could explain away as the work of aliens many of the things God could do to make his existence perfectly evident.
- Therefore, many things God could do to convince atheists still would not work.
- If atheists cannot specify what would convince them God exists then nothing could convince them.
- Atheists cannot specify what would convince them God exists.
- Therefore nothing could convince them.
If instead, we produce a knock down scenario that would convince everyone God exists, Vic replies it would over-ride our free will, that God does not want to force people to believe contrary to their free will.
Got that? Heads I win tails you lose. It reminds me once again of what Stephen Law wrote: “Anything based on faith, no matter how ludicrous, can be made to be consistent with the available evidence, given a little patience and ingenuity.” Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole.(p. 75).
What Vic is looking for is a scenario that would help honest atheists believe in God, but not all atheists, since presumably we are not all honest atheists. If we cannot produce that scenario then he wins.
Keep in mind Muslims and Mormons and Orthodox Jews would use this same argument Vic uses, where their sect-specific gods would lead atheists to believe in their sect-specific monotheisms, and perhaps even Process theologians use it. But Vic would have none of this. Those other religions are wrong, just as atheists are wrong. That is why everyone is a narrow atheist. Everyone rejects other religions but their own. Wide atheists like myself reject them all for the same reason, the lack of sufficient evidence. So Vic needs to make this same argument against narrow atheists too. Does he? What would convince Muslims, Mormons, Orthodox Jews and Process theologians that your sect-specific evangelical faith is true Vic? I suspect the same things that would convince me. Conversely what would convince them to believe in Vic's brand of Christianity? Probably the same things that would convince me.
Vic, no doubt, wants to limit his argument to the existence of God, a supernatural being, that it's about convincing wide atheists such a being exists regardless of which sect-specific religious faith one adopts. But I've argued that is a non-sequitur. Vic doesn't just believe in God, he's not just arguing his God exists. His argument is supposed to lead to his sect-specific evangelical God, the one he believes.
Nonetheless, here is a scenario that would lead wide atheists to believe, which does the requisite work he demands. Since Vic's God knows us all intimately well, then he knows what it would take to convince us to believe if he just did it, whatever it would be. Let's suppose it's in simply taking away our critical thinking skills so we would believe against the available evidence. He could do that. He's omnipotent. He knows how to do that. He's omniscient. He desires to do that. He's omnibenelovent.
The are two unresolved problems with this. One is the issue of free will. Given that God is omniscient he knows who are honest atheists who are honestly searching for the truth ("honest" for the sake of argument) and atheists who are not honest. So at the minimum God should give these honest atheists what they need, what they desire, what of their own free will that which they are searching for if God provided it (this is Theodore Drange's argument). Therefore, God should take away their critical thinking skills (per my suggestion as one example) so they would believe against the available evidence.
The second problem is the demographics. If what I've argued so far is correct the only thing left is for Vic to respond that God is already doing this. His God is providing atheists that which would convince them to believe (apart from, or including him taking away their critical thinking skills). Therefore since God is already providing honest atheists what they need to believe, there are no honest atheists, or that there will eventually be no honest atheists. This would have to apply to all narrow atheists as well, not just wide atheists who reject all religions. Vic must believe this about us all, no matter what we say. We can insist we are honest atheists (narrow or wide) to no avail. Vic knows what he knows what he knows and that's it. We are all in rebellion against his God. We all hate everything that is good. We all refuse to believe in his evangelical God. His God is good! Praise the evangelical Jesus!
This my friends is belief despite the evidence. There are many wide atheists who were former believers. We simply cannot believe anymore. So once again, this time on the flip-side, Vic would pontificate "tails you lose heads I win." It reminds me once again of what Stephen Law wrote: “Anything based on faith, no matter how ludicrous, can be made to be consistent with the available evidence, given a little patience and ingenuity.” Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole.(p. 75)
When it comes to faith true believers like Vic will never be convinced. That's because of the nature of faith itself. Evidence? Who needs it? That's why I say faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities. In fact, because I ended this post with that statement Vic will more likely than not argue against this last point of mine, skirting the major thrust of this post. What he needs to show however, is that I'm wrong somewhere in the major thrust of this post. Only then can he show faith is not irrational.