17th June 00:18
Of gods and quads... (god able agency subjective medium)
I've come up with a visual aid for discussing the existence of god(s),
and though a pure-text medium isn't the best for conveying such
things, I thought I'd give it a go.
Ok, first I draw a standard 2 X 2 matrix, i.e. 2 rows and 2 columns.
Row 1 is the "God Exists" proposition and row 2 is the "God does not
exist" proposition. Column A is the "declaratory" column, which lists
the observations we would expect to be able to make if the given
proposition is true, and column B is the "excusatory" column, which
lists the various ways we can try to reconcile the given proposition
with any failure to observe the expected observations listed in column
The use of the visual aid is simple: you fill in each square (A1, A2,
B1 and B2) with the appropriate expectations and reconciliations, and
then compare the listings with the real world and put an "X" beside
each observation/reconciliation actually occurs in real life.
What's interesting and, I think, significant, is that pretty much all
the things we find in the real world are going to fall into squares A2
and B1. This tends to be true regardless of which god you are talking
For example, take the Christian God:
Square A1 (expected observations if God exists): God will be the same
for all observers; God will reveal Himself to both believer and
skeptic; God will cause things to happen that depart significantly
from what is possible under normal laws of nature (dead coming to
life, water transforming instantly to wine, instantaneous healing of
incurable diseases, etc)--in short God will behave in real life the
way He is described as behaving in the Bible. Also, that the quad,
when filled in, will have most "X's" in the A1/B2 axis.
Square A2 (explanations given if we are unable to observe the things
predicted in square A1): Man/skeptics lack some necessary virtue
needed to be able and/or worthy to observe God; God has some
inscrutable reason for concealing Himself from all but "true
believers," Satan is preventing us from objectively observing God,
Square B1 (expected observations if God does not exist): Reported
observations of God will fall within the normal range for purely
subjective phenomena such as fantasy, autosuggestion, peer influence,
superstition, etc; reported observations of God will vary widely
depending on the personality, preferences, culture, experience,
education, etc. of the observer; reported miracles will turn out to be
fake, exaggerated, within the normal range of expected outcomes, or
inaccessible (happened 2,000 years ago, or "I heard it from a guy who
heard it from a girl who knew someone who actually saw it happen,"
etc)--in short, there will be no valid, objective observations of God
actually existing and interacting with the real world. Also, that the
quad, when filled in, will have most "X's" along the B1/A2 axis.
Square B2 (explanations given if we do encounter valid, objective
observations of God actually interacting with the real world): Aliens
with advanced technology are simulating a divine being for the purpose
of deceiving us; some human agency has discovered a trick we can't see
through yet and is using it to deceive us into thinking we are seeing
God; some non-Christian god(s) could be pretending to be the Christian
The above quad has 2 uses, actually. First, you fill in the squares
and count the X's, and notice that everything we actually find in the
real world is almost certainly an A2 or a B1. Secondly, if any new
evidences arise during the discussion, try classifying which square
the new material belongs in. More than likely, the new material, too,
will fall somewhere along the A2/B1 axis.
Not a rigid, inescapable proof, of course, but I think it does help to
graphically illustrate how overwhelmingly the available evidence is
aligned in favor of the "God does not exist" proposition, especially
when you repeat the exercise for multiple different gods and see how
they all score pretty much the same.