Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Where is God?

I recently did two posts explaining how special providence is consistent with the apparent randomness of the distribution pattern. Here's one that links to the other post:

i) However, an unbeliever might raise the following objection: even if special providence is consistent with apparent randomness, that's no reason to believe in special providence. Their abstract mutual consistency isn't evidence for special providence. Indeed, that's is just a face-saving distinction, for even if God did not exist, that would be consistent with apparent randomness. That's equally consonant with God's existence or nonexistence alike. 

Put another way, to say it's consistent fails to give a reason for apparent randomness. Why would God make the pattern so elusive? What would motivate God to be so inevident? For every apparent answer to prayer, there are so many unanswered prayers. For every divine judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, there's countless cases of divine inaction. For every Ananias and Sapphira dropping dead, you have every so many wrongdoers who prosper. 

To use my own example, given the gambler, he has a reason to conceal his telepathy, but what makes that a given? How is that analogous to God? 

ii) To that I'd say two things: suppose God routinely answered prayer. Suppose immediate retribution was the norm.

Crooks don't ordinarily commit a crime in full view of the police. They wait until the coast is clear. Likewise, smart crooks evade security cameras. They may wear a mask to disguise their identity.

By the same token, you have people who'd commit atrocities if they thought they could get away with it. They have no conscience. They only thing that deters them is fear of reprisal. 

Suppose you have a scrawny high school student who's bullied by a larger boy. A football player sees that, and takes the scrawny kid under his wing. He warns the bully to leave the kid alone. The kid is now under his protection. The football player is bigger, tougher, stronger than the bully, so the bully fears the football player. Not somebody he wants to tangle with.

Problem is, that only deters him from picking on the scrawny student when he's in the company of the football player. But when he's by himself, he once again becomes an easy target. And the bully threatens him (or his relatives) with dire bodily harm if he reports him to the football player.

If special providence was more consistent, many people would be more God-fearing, but for the wrong reason. They'd behave better, but they wouldn't be better. Outer conformity absent inner conviction. The moment they thought they could do wrong with impunity, they'd instantly revert. 

iii) In addition, the question of why God doesn't make himself more evident views the issue through the wrong end of the telescope. For the real issue is qualitative, not quantitative. Atheism is a universal negative. If atheism is true, then there can be no clear instances of evidence for God's existence whatsoever. 

We can wonder why God doesn't intervene with greater frequency, but that's irrelevant to the case for God's existence so long as there is some unambiguous evidence for his existence. Even if there was scant evidence for his existence, so long as that was unmistakable, a modicum of evidence is sufficient to disprove a universal negative. 

My argument takes for granted that there's at least some clear evidence for his existence. And that's a very low threshold to meet. Indeed, that's a very easy threshold to meet. 

No comments:

Post a Comment