Paul Manata and the talking snakes
John Loftus, of Debunking Christianity, reports that our friend Paul Manata believes in talking snakes because it says so in the Bible. Well there you go. Quoting from Manata:
Assume that there is no higher weight that can be given to any evidence than God's own word on the matter. Indeed, since He cannot lie, knows everything, etc., then is there any higher authority that I could go to on this matter? If the above is true then why can't I invoke His word? And if I can invoke his word, well that's pretty good evidence for the talking snake.
Now, I like Loftus' discussion of this whole thing, especially the fact that he used Euthyphro Dilemma- something which atheists don't do nearly as much as they should. But I think he missed one simple but pretty important point. Paul believes that God knows everything and cannot lie. This, to me, seems to be a crucial assumption.
Of course, any discussion assumes that "God" means something as a label, which it doesn't, but indulge me for a bit. If God exists, it is all-powerful, or at least it is able to change the content of people's minds. The Bible proves that in many places.
Given this fact, Paul Manata may believe that God does not lie, but how does he know he is not being fooled by God into believing it? God may be making him believe this in order to gain a worshipper, when in fact God is lying for its own benefit. Now of course Paul would simply reply "but I believe that God does not lie", which brings us back to the same problem. You can believe that God does not lie all you want, but unless you can assert a mental independence from God, you cannot know that this is indeed the fact.
Of course, given that Christianity is all about belief and not about facts, why should we be surprised? If you want, you can believe with all your heart that God is not deceiving you. But you are making a very risky bet, if the Christian worldview is correct.