Sunday, November 07, 2004

I have returned, full of vim and vigour...

and in my renewed virility I bring gifts. Specifically, a refutation of the Argument From Para-Logic, hot off the press.

What do you mean, "You what"? Just read it.

The trouble with being an atheist is that there's an incontrovertible argument for the existence of God. It's not even as if the aforesaid argument is little-known or convoluted: it's very simple, and it goes like this: "all arguments disproving God are false, because God being God (with a Capital Letter), is supremely perfect and transcends human logic, and therefore he exists."

This tends to be a bit of a conversation-killer.

At first it seems that this argument is incontrovertible proof for lots of things; including the Great Sky-Goat with Bells On. This:
a) sounds silly, and
b) is an argument proving that every possible concept exists.

Which leads to a re-evaluation of the word "exists" (as the above is clearly untrue), which is distinctly unhelpful. Actually, the Sky-Goat is not a good candidate for existing due to para-logic, unless its properties include "supremely perfect", and "infinite". And if they do, then it counts as "God" anyway.
This is because a Sky-Goat is (relatively) easily comprehensible, and can be evaluated by physical means. (Is there a great big goat with bells on in the sky? If not, then the Sky-Goat doesn't exist.)

However, God is by definition non-physical, and is indeed so far above human intellect and perception that he isn't necessarily obvious to us even if He does exist. Which seems to lead straight to theism. All sub-arguments at this point are answered with para-logic. However, this raises some interesting questions about (mono)theists themselves. If God is indeed para-logical, how to worshippers understand Him?

As best they can, through a Holy Book.

The question is whether you can trust a being with the capacity to fool you utterly as far as you can throw him? (Which, given the aforementioned non-physicality, isn't that far). The answer is that God is said to be perfectly good. There is no reason that moral perfection implies human-level goodness, however. A perfect moral code, already described as beyond human comprehension, couldn't possibly be described by a simple human adjective such as "good". If the answer is that "with God, all things are possible", then there's a problem, in that you've just completely discarded human logical thought: if the above statement is true then no possibility, however improbable, can be disregarded.

The Great Sky-Goat rears its ugly head yet again, as does the idea of a Divine Deceiver. You may attempt to salvage the situation with an, "Ah, but God is also perfectly Good", and THEN you'll have to explain how one goes about knowing that in the first place. With an omnipotent being, it's impossible to be sure, unless you've predefined the aforesaid being to fit in with a moral code that will be on your side, as it were.

Therefore, any concept of a God who is a demiurgic pancreator*, and supremely perfect and morally good has to be one constructed to fit a pre-existing hole in human logical construction rather than something that could exist. Furthermore, a supremely perfect being must then surely smell and feel perfect: but God is non-physical, and so doesn't posess there qualities. Although it does follow (and fit in with conventional monotheist thought) that therefore physical presence is an imperfection and total non-physicality is a divine perfection, it raises the question of perception. "Perceptibility" seems to be a legitimate divine perception, thereby bypassing the claim that God is only perfect in those things that it is possibly to be perfect in**, and futhermore seems to be something that God is not perfect in, or He doens't exist. To whit, that an unclear instruction booklet, say, is not very perceptible, in that it is possible to mistake the meaning for other things: we can also get it "wrong" about God. Moreover, it does not even seem as if it is possible to mistake God for, say, a Great Sky-Goat with Bells On, because he's supremely perfect. Therefore, by definition, it shouldn't be possible to percieve an existing God wrongly.

But we can.

Manifestly, people believe all kinds of things about God. Either all well-defined religion goes, or God does. Any other response is a logical contradiction. In fact, the fact that I'm writing this disproves any sort of traditional monotheist God.
Finally, the existence of a discussion between an atheist and a monotheist on these sort of terms proves that the theist believes in human logic anyway. Which makes the use of the Para-Logical argument a bit futile.

*Creator of Everything
**which invalidates the "supreme" bit in "supremely perfect being"

Thank you, and goodnight,


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