Today I received a long, well-written comment on a post I published on August 8, 2015 : “Unwarranted Beliefs and Warranted Unbelief”, submitted by David Stephens. As few readers would stumble on it, I recommend that you read both the post and David’s comment before you read my response :
Thank you, David, for such a well-reasoned attack on my discussion of Alvin Plantinga’s piece on “warranted belief”. Neither you nor I, of course, can possibly write a definitive defence of our points of view in half a page, but you did a pretty good job defending yours. Although I think that what I have already written is an adequate enough answer to your objections, let’s look at them in order :
- “Is an appeal to a First Cause a fabrication ?”
- “What do you mean by ‘myth’ ?”
- Why believe my assertion that “God’s revelation is a myth” ?
- “I experience a realm of spiritual reality and I am justified in holding it until I have some reason to think otherwise.”
Throughout this Blog you will find a plethora of posts and comments dealing with First Causes (and Last Judgements) in my almost endless dialogue of the deaf with Jim Gallagher, alias “Lumen de lumine” (!). While the principle seems to make eminent good sense, the counter-argument of infinite regress is not a cop-out. Many philosophers and scientists have seriously posited an eternal Universe (or at least one with no beginning; after all, you say the same thing about God . . .). But even if one accepts a First Cause – fairly obviously omnipotent if not omniscient – it is a huge jump from It to the personal God theologians claim to know so much about. Jim, of course, famous in this Blog for his Six Steps, rapidly deduces from this established “certitude” of a First Cause that Catholicism is the One, True Church. I find it hard to believe that we will ever know what started it all, but I dismiss both deism and theism. Even if the uncreated “God” – Himself a contradiction of the axiom that everything has a cause – were the Prime Mover, His supposed infinite power, goodness and love are a permanent subject of doubt in face of the pain and death of innocent children, whose tragic experience can be excused only by the fact that “God” does not exist.
“Myth” is a broad concept covering just about every story involving the supernatural, from the Australian aborigines’ “Dreamtime” to the pantheon of Greek and Roman deities to the enhanced “history” tribes and nations invent to identify and mobilize their members. I have never claimed that the “fine-tuning” of the Universe is a myth. The myth is the suggestion that it has no other possible explanation besides your “God”.
Is God’s “revelation” a myth ? First of all, we would have to decide of what and of whom you are speaking. Yahweh and Abraham and Moses and the Prophets, or Allah and THE “Prophet”, Mahomed, the last of the line, or Jesus, Paul and the Evangelists – or Joseph Smith and the golden plates of his Book of Mormon ? Of course, you will have made your choice, which makes the others . . . myths, as you must admit.
It is practically impossible to dent the certitude born of personal religious experience. I have already written in this Blog that I do not even attempt to dialogue with anyone who has had a N.D.E. – a Near-Death Experience – complete with lights in tunnels and even words s/he claims to have heard. But I have opted also, after so many vain attempts, to refrain from trying to shake the convictions of people as convinced of God’s existence as I am convinced that He/She/It is the supreme myth. In this Blog I have “settled for less”. My target readership is the “Believer on the Brink”. It would seem, dear David, that you are devoid of doubt. Your mind, like mine, is made up. Mind you, like Bertrand Russell, if I were to discover enough credible evidence, I am open to returning to what I have called the “Illusions” in which I was indoctrinated and which for too long I believed, taught and preached. I fear that anything I can say or have said in the 227 Reflections in my book, “From Illusions to Illumination” or in the 642 posts in this Blog, “blindfaithblindfolly”, would be water on a duck’s back for believers like yourself. You are happy with your choice to believe. I am happy that forty years ago I discovered the truth that has made me free.