This post is inspired by Dr. William L. Craig’s explaination of Pascal’s Wager on his website. I have only recently discovered Dr. Craig’s writings and, while not usually a fan of Evangelical Churches, Dr. Lane appears to be an excellent logician. I did have a point to make about this argument in particular however. From the question:
“First, how do we know which God to believe in? Thousands of Gods have been claimed to exist and it seems that the probability of picking the right one is minute.”
Dr. Lane’s reply:
“In other words…God does not exist is actually an indefinitely complex disjunction of various deities who might exist if the Christian God does not.”
I often have to explain this error of category to atheists; it is even more unfortunate when I must explain it to fellow Christians. “God” and “god” are not the same word, nor are they the same category of being. “God”, correctly used, refers to the metaphysical cause, the Ultimate Reality; the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle and Aquinas’ Prime Mover. “God” is not a person, existing beyond the subject/object duality. Being perfect,”God” does not want nor act (since any lack or action-in-progress is by definition an incompleteness, and therefore imperfection). “A god”, on the other hand, is an anthropomorphic, supernatural personification of a natural force. Life, death, war, the sky, lightning… all have been called “gods” before. “A god” is a person; whatever supernatural force may be attributed to him, he still has limited perspective and incomplete understanding. Being persons, it is in the nature of gods to act in according to whatever force they personify.
Note that, in this schema, there can be only one “God”. God has been referred to by many names–YHVH, Allah, Ra, Brahman. The difference in mythology surrounding God is a function of different limited humans from different cultures attempting to understand Ultimate Reality, not a function of potentially competing Ultimate Realities. That is, Arabic culture has shaped Islam to be very different from Christianity; however, in both cases the object of the religion is “God”, and not “a god”. Therefore, the question of “which God is real” is actually nonsense. The correct question is, ‘is there an Ultimate Reality or not?’–after which different theologies may, if desired, be examined for applicability.
If I may be referred to as a “believer”, which I would call in inaccurate term, then I believe in God because I believe in a rational, investigable universe. If there is no God, no rational ordering principle of the universe, then there is no reason to assume that scientific investigation will continue to bear any meaningful fruit (nor was there to begin with). For the same reason, I do not believe in “gods.” If there are arbitrary forces which act supernally to the nature of reality,then there is also no reason to believe that science will continue to bear useful fruit.