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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Subjectivity of the Divine Will part 2

In the Christian worldview, the notion of natural law, therefore, must be thrown right out of the window. The only conclusion is that this universe, as ontologically dependent on divine will, cannot contain any objective fact.

This means that there is no such thing as objective morality, objective purpose, objective meaning or objective judgment in the Christian worldview. For these things to exist, humans would need an objective standard to rely on. But a will is not, by definition, an objective standard, divine or not. If your reference point is divine will, then do not pretend you have a standard ! A Christian does not have a moral system any more than a six year old has a moral standard because his parents told him not to cross the street. There is an element of morality (insofar as the individual still has a reason to declare something right and something wrong), but no standard.

Now in the materialist scenario, the universe is uncaused, and therefore there is objectivity built-in from the beginning. What we have is a substrate of matter which exists independently of, and indeed is prior to, any will.

Once again, I can decide to take actions which change the configuration of a certain piece of matter, but that configuration and the ways it can change are out of the reach of my will. I may delude myself into believing that they are different than they really are (I can believe, say, that praying can make things appear fron thin air), but this delusion remains within my own will.

Because of its inherent subjectivity, the existence of a divine will, if taken as a serious scenario, should plunge us into deep epistemic anxiety. The fact that Christians brush this problem so easily and try to pin it on the atheist is only another manifestation of the endemic mechanism of projection in Christianity (and other monotheistic religions, for that matter).

A Christian has no justification to claim anything apart from the existence of a god. Once he accepts such an existence, then everything else must be plunged in deep epistemic anxiety, including the properties of such a god. Suppose that I believe that God is a good being, worthy of belief and worship. Well, how do I know that's true ? God could very well be fabricating a belief in my mind that it is good, while it is in fact a duplicitous, murderous, temperamental, and generally untrustowrthy being (as the Bible testifies). There is no objective standard for me to fall back to. But I can't even invoke the Bible as evidence, since I cannot possibly justify the belief that the Bible is true ! It could very well be that this being is equally trying to portray itself as untrustworthy in order to "test" us.

The same problem exists with what we materialists consider factual. If God can make it so that A is not-A, that genocide is good, that the Sun does not rise, then on what basis can I formulate any principle ? A principle subsumes all possible instances of an event or concept. For a Christian, this is an impossible promise. Since concepts also subsume all possible referents, the use of language by a Christian is equally problematic.

To use any concept at all implies that all referents, past and future, are similar in specific ways. If God can make it so that water is no longer two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen (that is to say, create a contradiction), then I am really just fooling myself (or others) when I use the word "water".

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3 Comments:

At 6/24/2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

This is a HUGE point that needs to be made to all Christians. One of the most prevalent fallacies regarding atheism is that, without a god-belief, nothing can be objectively shown (usually, morality). What is so ironic (and tragic) is that, upon an epistemological analysis of theism, we find that exactly the opposite is true! In any conversation with a theist, this should be point #1.

 
At 6/24/2006 12:10 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

My position has slightly changed on the issue. I no longer think that a verse plus God entails absence of knowledge per se. But there is definitely a profound epistemic anxiety inherent to all knowledge in a Christian verse which is not warranted in a materialist verse. Any knowledge we would think we have would be little more than a belief. Ironically, of course, this is what Christians think about science- as usual, they got it inside out.

 
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