Plantinga! »« Those excuses look awfully familiar

I get email: Jesus’ hairstyle edition

For some unknown reason, there has been a recent spate of weird people shouting “Plantinga!” at me. Has he said something idiotic lately that has inspired his idiotic fans?

Hi Paul. I hope you are well and having a good week. I am writing to you from the vicinity of Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
What is the origin of human faculty of reason? What authority or what reliability and warrant has our reason?
How can it be that what goes on in our tiny heads can give us anything near a true account of reality?

How can it be that a mathematical equation thought up in the human mind of a mathematician, can correspond to the workings of the universe out there?

You Paul essentially obliged to regard “thought” as some kind of neurophysiological phenomenon. For atheists pure blind chance is at the very root of evolution that produced such neurophysiology. Why should anyone think for a moment that the beliefs caused by that neurophysiology would be mostly true? After all if the thoughts in my mind are just motions of atoms in my brain – a mechanism that arisen by mindless random accidental unguided processes, why should I believe anything it tells me – including the fact that it is made of atoms. American philosopher Alvin Platinga sums it up: “If Paul is right that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce – including Paul’s own science and his atheism”
Thus, atheism undermines the very rationality that is needed to construct or understand or believe in any kind of argument whatsoever – let alone scientific one. Reducing “thought” to nothing but neurophysiology leads to the demise of science, rationality, and belief in truth itself. There is no rational basis for truth. Science and truth are left without warrant.
By contrast, what is found in ancient Jewish manuscripts is coherent in its explanation of why the universe is (scientifically) intelligible. It teaches that God is ultimately responsible as Creator, both for the existence of the universe and the human mind. Human beings are made in his image: the image of a rational personal Creator; and that is why they can understand the universe, at least in part
And I think you’ll be happy to know that someone in Wales, United Kingdom, saw Jesus recently. It’s actually a true story in the context of a 5-year scientific study carried out by Dr Penny Sartori. Here is her 1-hour long presentation about it, given at a conference in US.
http://www.btci.org/bioethics/2012/videos2012/vid2.html
It also been published in a journal. Here is the link if you prefer to read about it
http://www.iands.es/bibliografia/Sartori_Fenwick.pdf

I don’t think Plantinga is actually talking about me — I suspect my correspondent made up the quote, cobbling together phrases Plantinga has said. But this is all just Plantinga’s stupid argument that basically claims that you can’t get order out of chaos; that something that arose by chance cannot possibly ever acquire properties that are ordered and rational. It also ignores the fact that even an irrational mind can develop orderly processes that allow it to discern and interpret patterns in the universe around it. His idea requires Plantinga to also ignore the fact that no one says evolution or neurophysiology are products of pure chance alone. But then who cares? Plantinga is quite possibly the dumbest philosopher on the planet. You might as well write to me citing Joel Osteen as your infallible authority — I’ll just laugh and laugh and laugh.

But I did read the cited paper anyway. It’s junk. It’s an anecdotal story of one patient’s lapse into unconsciousness and the happy and familiar confabulation he came up when he woke up. That’s it. It’s published in the “Journal of Near-Death Studies,” which sort of tells you what level of credibility it has, and it’s by Penny Sartori, NDE crackpot.

Long story short: Cancer patient in organ failure lapses into unconsciousness, and recovers three hours later. He then says that he saw his father and Jesus, and described medical procedures that were done while he was out cold. Furthermore, he was miraculously healed of a congenital condition.

The story falls to pieces pretty quickly, though. The medical procedures he described? 1) A doctor checked his pupillary response by flashing a light in his eyes, 2) a nurse swabbed drool from his mouth with a suction catheter, and 3) another doctor peeked around the curtains surrounding his bed.

Yep, that’s it. Mundane events in the world of the hospital. And he doesn’t even get the details right, but the author of the paper just ignores any deviation.

The consultant checked that the patient’s pupils were reacting by shining a light into them. He remarked, “Yes, they’re reacting, but unequal.” The patient reported hearing the doctor saying, “There’s life in the eye” or “something like that.” This was inaccurate, although this highlighted his interpretation of what was said and was a good comprehension of what the consultant meant.

Inaccurate, but a good comprehension, so she ticks that off as one of her three examples of veridical confirmation. That’s the level of quality we’re talking about.

As for the magical healing, the patient was born with cerebral palsy that caused a constricture of his right hand; the muscles were in spasm so he couldn’t open it. After a traumatic event in the hospital in which his brain was fried by anoxia, he could open his hand! You know, that is not at all surprising, and can easily be explained by purely physical events — we don’t need to invoke Jesus.

By the way, the only interesting thing in the account is that the patient claims Jesus has long, black hair, which needed to be combed. Yeah, you finally meet Jesus, and what do you do? Criticize his hairdo.

Comments

  1. Anri says

    If a philosophical argument’s entire point is that we can’t come up with solid conclusions from reasoned thought, why in hell would anyone bother stating it? It’s just question-begging from the start.

    At least his Jesus wasn’t blonde.

  2. sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

    The quote originally said “Dawkins” and he has replaced that with “Paul”.

  3. ShowMetheData says

    “Why should anyone think for a moment that the beliefs caused by that neurophysiology would be mostly true?”

    You would have to look at the basic functionality we humans received from our ancestors. Their DNA (and ours) has been tested generation after generation against reality. Those with better grasps of reality (truth) are successful in surviving to procreate. A deluded mouse is a dead mouse.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    Hi Paul. I hope you are well and having a good week. I am writing to you from the vicinity of Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

    Ugh! Among the items on my very, very long list of things I can’t stand, false familarity ranks right up there next to Republicans and gallstones. I’ve had these same sort correspondence before and my response usually goes something like this:

    Look, I don’t know you, and due to your incredibly stupid beliefs, I don’t WANT to know you. We are not friends nor will we ever be, so don’t bother pretending that we are long-lost buddies that just reconnected on Facebook. You don’t care about the state of my health or well being anymore than I do yours, and if you were honest, you’d much rather hope that I die a horrible, painful, lingering, and sexually embarassing death. So knock off the smug condesention and have the intellectual honesty me to
    insult me overtly, like I’m about to do you right now…

    Yeah, I’m a foul-tempered, argumentative, and unfriendly asshole, and I’m fucking proud of it.

  5. says

    Yeah, I know the type well. In person, he probably does a lot of putting his hand on your shoulder, and leaning in close so you can smell his breathmint and his cologne.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    PZ @ 5:

    Nothing wrong with mints and cologne when you need them, but I’d definitely ask them to remove that hand from my person before they end up like Jamie Lannister.

  7. says

    Plantinga’s argument is wrong, but it is often misunderstood. It’s not quite as crazy as PZ paints it.

    The basic argument stems from a misunderstanding of what naturalism entails. Plantinga understands that evolution can produce adaptive mechanisms, structures and behaviours. He just doesn’t think it can produce adaptive beliefs.

    He has presented two major arguments to separate beliefs from behaviour. The first is that there are many false beliefs that can give rise to an adaptive behaviour, so there is no reason to believe that our ability to form beliefs is at all reliable. He doesn’t stress this argument much any more.

    The second approach, which he seems to favour these days, is that naturalism means that there is no way for an immaterial thing such as a belief to impact on the physical world. In this view, beliefs would be irrelevant epiphenomena, and all that really matters is the physical interaction of neurons etc providing a chain of cause and effect from perceptions to behaviour. His view is that naturalism entails that semantics are unnecessary and irrelevant.

    Please note that this he is not actually questioning human reason. He believes that human reason is reliable, he just doesn’t see how this is compatible with naturalism. If we believe in human reason, therefore, we must accept that naturalism is false.

    As I said, I think there are fatal problems with Plantinga’s argument, but it really is not as insane as it is often interpreted to be by atheists. He just doesn’t understand what concepts such as beliefs are from a naturalistic perspective.

    More here:
    http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/defending-evolutionary-argument-against.html
    http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/attacking-evolutionary-argument-against.html

  8. nich says

    I’ve had this question for some time now. Why do studies of near death experiences in big media almost always seem to focus exclusively on Christian NDEs? My google-fu must stink because I can’t find much more on NDEs of other religions than links to blogs in far flung corners of the internet that usually cater to that specific faith. The links to big media stories always seem to feature westerners. You never hear about the NDE of a member of the Hindu or Muslim community.

    What are features common to their NDEs? Does Allah send Muslims back through the light? Mohammad? Isa Ibn Maryam? The Mahdi? Is this ever addressed in so-called research into NDEs? And if so, wouldn’t the fact that the NDE always conforms to the specific faith of the experiencer raise a big red flag? If there is a god, and it has a specific religion it wants you to follow, wouldn’t a signal rise above the noise? The only feature that seems sort of common is the experience of light in a kind of tunnel, but you can experience that by bashing your head pretty good or holding your breath for too long or drinking too much alcohol. As far as evidence for god goes, the NDE seems to be pretty weak sauce.

  9. Antares42 says

    @nich, #8

    Why do studies of near death experiences in big media almost always seem to focus exclusively on Christian NDEs?

    Well, what more proof do you want? Christianity is true, all the others are false. Case closed.

    (I’m kidding)

  10. Nick Gotts says

    Disagreeableme@7

    I think you’re being much too kind to Plantinga.

    The first is that there are many false beliefs that can give rise to an adaptive behaviour, so there is no reason to believe that our ability to form beliefs is at all reliable. He doesn’t stress this argument much any more.

    Could it be that he has actually taken on board how mindbendingly fucking stupid this claim is? In the face of admittedly fierce competition, I nominate it as the most inane argument put forward by a professional philosopher in the last century.

  11. Dunc says

    @13 – it’s possible that he’s noticed that it’s somewhat double-edged. I’m perfectly happy to point to the widespread popularity of incoherent and mutually-contradictory religious beliefs as evidence that our ability to form beliefs is not reliable.

    In fact, I’ll go further: yes, I “doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties” – that’s why I’m a sceptic. In fact, I don’t merely doubt their reliability, I know from repeated demonstration that they’re wildly unreliable, in a number of specific ways. Fortunately, we have also developed a suit of techniques to identify and compensate for those biases. But yes, the fact remains that all products of human cognition should be regarded with scepticism, and tested against reality wherever possible. Thank you Sir Frances Bacon, and welcome to the 17th century.

  12. says

    If a god exists, and the clinching “evidence” these folks can muster are some anecdotes about NDEs, that is really telling. They must also accept that aliens are visiting earth, given such a large number of mostly consistent anecdotes (at least thats much more materially plausible than a god).

  13. Sastra says

    Plantinga also has a serious problem figuring out how the content of a belief is not the exact same thing as its instantiation in the brain.

    I’m interested in the fact that beliefs cause (or at least partly cause) actions. For example, my belief that there is a beer in the fridge (together with my desire to have a beer) can cause me to heave myself out of my comfortable armchair and lumber over to the fridge. But here’s the important point: It’s by virtue of its material, neurophysiological properties that a belief causes the action. It’s in virtue of those electrical signals sent via efferent nerves to the relevant muscles, that the belief about the beer in the fridge causes me to go to the fridge. It is not by virtue of the content (there is a beer in the fridge) the belief has… Because if this belief — this structure — had a totally different content (even, say, if it was a belief that there is no beer in the fridge) but had the same neurophysiological properties, it would still have caused that same action of going to the fridge. This means that the content of the belief isn’t a cause of the behavior. As far as causing the behavior goes, the content of the belief doesn’t matter.

    The belief could not be a different belief but still have the same neurophysical properties. Plantinga is begging the question of mind/brain dualism to blithely assume this is empirically possible.

  14. stevem says

    re Plantinga:
    TL;DR. My response to the bit about “how could thinking just be chemical reactions of random atoms in my brain and not some magical machine from god himself/”, is to tell him, “look in the mirror, there is an example of random chemical reactions sending a brain in a completely wrong train of thought.” I agree, he is not “insane”, but is “incomplete” and a little “irrational”, stuck in one mode of thought and unable to think in other modes, unable to entertain other possible ways of thinking about stuff.
    <incomplete>

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Jesus has “long, black hair, which needed to be combed”.

    Damn dirty hippie. Did he also smell of pot and patchouli?

    Shame on him. Quite literally:

    1 Corinthians 11:14 – Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

  16. stevem says

    How can it be that a mathematical equation thought up in the human mind of a mathematician, can correspond to the workings of the universe out there?

    Not “Platonism” again. Mathematical Eqns aren’t just “thought up” and just happen to “correspond to ‘reality'”. Eqns are developed by mathemagicians to describe reality, and usually have to be tinkered with and adjusted until they are a more accurate reflection of how things work. Mathematical Eqns are not Discovered, they don’t Exist as independent Objects. Eqns are *models* *developed* to *reflect* reality, not objects themselves that some Maths guy discovers floating around in Reality.

    I’m going to go “meta”: Is he just asking these “questions”, deliberately “loaded”, to make us define “mathematics, neubiology, etc.”, in a more understandable way?

  17. says

    “Inaccurate”, but a “good comprehension”, so she ticks that off as one of her three examples of veridical confirmation. That’s the level of quality we’re talking about.

    I’ve noticed that kind of thing before. It’s standard procedure in any kind of paranormal “research”. Dream predictions, NDEs, telepathy, they all use this.

    It really relies on bunching data points together and evaluating them as a group, so you can justify saying that this group overall is a hit. It also means you can bunch several failures together and count them as just one.

    Of course, you decide how to group the data after you’ve had a look at the results. It’s basically just a dishonest post-hoc analysis. This allows you to weed out a lot of the misses and come up with a success rate much higher than if you analyzed the data honestly.

  18. unclefrogy says

    I guess for me the reason I do not like philosophy much is I find it difficult follow along where it is going. It is cleverly put into words but is opinion or assertions. There is no way I can verify what is said. The things that have been learned by applying scientific thought and method I can reproduce as can anyone else and what is understood has a certain level of humility involved. As in this is what has been observed and how it seems to be working. There is no one trying to sell me that they know something because they said so. and I must believe it because all of these untestable reasons I am being given because!
    I got an e-mail this morning with an excerpt in
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/is-the-universe-a-simulation.html

    OK I’m done I stopped taking Acid many years ago I don’t need to start over again to understand what the hell is real!

    uncle frogy

  19. Rey Fox says

    By contrast, what is found in ancient Jewish manuscripts is coherent in its explanation of why the universe is (scientifically) intelligible.

    Well of course it is.

    Human beings are made in his image: the image of a rational personal Creator; and that is why they can understand the universe, at least in part

    In part? Well, clearly the Creator did a half-assed job. Or maybe the Creator isn’t all that infallible either.

    It seems to me that if our brains really were created by Jesus, then we wouldn’t have such differences in perception out there, even among the “neurotypical” population. The fact that we’re not infallible observers, but have still managed to do all that we have done as a species, is perfectly consistent with unguided evolution. And our fallible human brains and what we observe with them sure as hell doesn’t make any religious story any more believable.

  20. colonelzen says

    In re #7 along with a long list of my other causes to find philosopher’s worthy of contempt, it is easy to show both simple example and obvious (functional, obvioiusly not detailed neurophys … but there’s no reason to doubt that it can be there) mechanism for the not only plausible, but almost certainly true and not very mysterious means by which the phenomenal become causal.

    We *remember* our phenomenology.

    And of course that which we can consciously remember is frequently and demonstrably also used in our non-conscious mechanism of both thought and action. If I buy a new clock and read the instructions on how to set it, I then look up and am remembering them as I physically go through the actions of setting the clock.

    In fact I posit (ex Dennett) that all consciousness and its phenomenology is there just as the means and mechanism of creating such actionable memories to coordinate abstractions across time and senses to compare against prior memories to achieve ends otherwise algorithmically unavailable.

    Which brings me me back to the first point. Our Turing completeness, Turing equivalence, and finally von Neumann’s demonstration a decade later that any predictable physical process can be represented as algorithm together pretty much guarantee that we will find the universe understandtable to the extent that it is consistent.

    And finally by the anthropic principle if it weren’t consistent enough to be understood to a large degree, we couldn’t be here.

  21. cag says

    But this is all just Plantinga’s stupid argument that basically claims that you can’t get order out of chaos

    Anyone claiming you can’t get order out of chaos has never grown a crystal.

  22. Scientismist says

    Disagreeable Me (@7 above) is right that Plantinga’s argument is not quite as crazy as PZ paints it. But that’s because PZ hasn’t really engaged (or painted) it in his post here.

    The argument (as DM indicates) is that material naturalism (in Plantinga’s view) entails that beliefs and reason, if they are really material, must be either deeply flawed, or irrelevant to behavior. Plantinga himself believes, on the other hand, that they are non-material and non-natural, and are not just reliable, but (coming as they do from God, or the supernatural realm of God) must be perfect — certainly not the sort of thing that could come from anything that partakes of randomness.

    The problem is that this obsession with the myth of perfection is often obscured, and keeps shifting. Note how PZ’s correspondent shifts from talking about “anything near a true account” to “beliefs caused by that neurophysiology would be mostly true”, to “the demise of science, rationality, and belief in truth itself. There is no rational basis for truth”. Oh woe is us! Our mere material brains can’t give us absolute truth, so how are we ever to see the absolute truth of God? Yet we do! A miracle!! Yay, we don’t have to rely on our brains.

    Really, that’s the argument. It’s equivalent to “if evolution is true, then why are there still monkeys”. Obviously, we humans (or at least we theistic humans) have reason that is capable of seeing the Truth of God. If it were possible for anything natural to produce that insight, then why would there still be untruths in the world? Why would there still be unbelievers? (I actually heard that argument made in a philosophy colloquium at my university. The conclusion was that, as a believer, you can be justified in ignoring completely any argument made by an unbelieving material naturalist, because their reasoning is obviously faulty.)

    Of course biologists have long seen that even the most simple neural nets form what are the equivalent of “beliefs” (Does a moving shadow indicate I should flee from danger? Does increasing concentration of sugar mean I am moving in an advantageous direction?) — and that these beliefs can fail (the shadow may be a kelp frond; the sugar may be bait). Evolving nervous systems latch onto mostly (or sufficiently) reliable beliefs, or they die.

    Of course our beliefs can even be completely false, yet provide us with an advantage in our particular chosen niche. As others here have noted, Plantinga himself is a prime example.

  23. Bubba J Tarandfeathered says

    So from my exceptionally layman’s point of view this all boils down to: Evolution doesn’t explain why I don’t believe gawd nor does it explain why I should. All I know is that everytime I read or hear some overblown theory as to why gawd is the cause of all things I want to punch the person, making that argument, in the face. Now if evolution could explain that reaction then we might be getting someplace.

  24. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Platinga’s arguments always remind me of this scene from the amazingly obscure science fiction movie “Dark Star”

  25. robro says

    …what is found in ancient Jewish manuscripts is coherent…

    Really? Coherent? That’s a stretch.

  26. magistramarla says

    “For some unknown reason, there has been a recent spate of weird people shouting “Plantinga!” at me.”

    Could be a variation on “Bazinga!”

  27. vaiyt says

    @Scientismist

    So, Plantinga’s counter-argument to materialism assumes that God exists. You can’t make up this shit.

  28. says

    If PaulDawkins is right that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce

    Seems to me that if a creature can evolve any cognitive faculties at all, then those with a mental model that more closely mirrors reality will have a survival advantage over those with a model that does not. Indeed, how could cognition evolve in the first place if it didn’t at its root provide a reliable representation of reality? If its most basic interpretation of the world was unreliable, an organism would be unable to find food or evade dangers, and would die off before the crazy concept of ‘thought’ could be passed on to the next generation.

    That’s not to say it has to be perfect; an organism’s understanding of its surroundings only has to be accurate enough to help it survive and reproduce.

    The human brain’s ability to comprehend the world is obviously pretty accurate or it wouldn’t have been possible to create the computer network I’m using to write this message, for example.

    But the mental tools that give us these abilities only seem to be good enough to get the job done. To understand things deeply, we tend to seek cause in everything, even where that may not be applicable; which leads to magical thinking, pareidolia etc. Identifying cause can be difficult, but it’s easier to spot correlations; and it seem we have an efficient mental shortcut that assumes causation — because from a survival point of view it probably is, often enough. These ways of thinking can easily lead to wrong ideas about the world, but in day-to-day life serve us well enough that they are still a net benefit.

    Rather than disproving the possibility of evolved reason, his argument neatly clarifies for me how it is not only possible but likely. And yet, still with enough flaws to also explain religion and superstition…

  29. Scientismist says

    vaiyt @32: Yep, it’s John Calvin’s old sensus divinitatus; Plantinga just adds the notion that in some, it has been knocked out by “sin.” So if you disagree, shame on you!

    unclefrogy @33: Let there be light! Faith triumphs once again.

  30. Anri says

    Disagreeable Me @ 7:

    Please note that this he is not actually questioning human reason. He believes that human reason is reliable, he just doesn’t see how this is compatible with naturalism. If we believe in human reason, therefore, we must accept that naturalism is false.

    It’s question-begging on top of the argument from ignorance: I can’t figure out how reason might have evolved, so there must have been god in my argument all along. That’s either pathetic or simply not well-thought out. And he sure seems to have spent a lot of time thinking about it, so…

    Does he consider the concept that the devil might have granted us reason for the sole purpose of questioning god and damning ourselves? That makes (pardon) one hell of a lot more sense.

  31. Howard Bannister says

    “If Paul is right that we are the product of mindless unguided natural processes, then he has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to doubt the validity of any belief that they produce – including Paul’s own science and his atheism”

    There’s an admission in there of something, if you tease at it.

    An admission of fear.

    He can’t face the idea of cognitive biases. He can’t face the idea that his own brain might lie to him.

    He has to come up with some core of SuperTruth to blast through that, to insulate him from that idea. Otherwise you have to start testing all your beliefs and carefully evaluating your own cognitive processes.

    When you Believe, then you know that human intellect is supreme and can Know the Truth.

    When your brain is a subjective muddle and can have cognitive biases, then you can’t know you have the truth and you have to pick through and try to find reality.

    Obviously, we value picking through. We make lists of known cognitive biases. We find ways to double-blind experiments.

    He would never. He has Truth, and so there is no faulty cognition to account for, because he is Superman.

  32. David Marjanović says

    Just in case you haven’t noticed, Kagehi, you just independently discovered evolutionary epistemology. :-) :-) :-)

  33. Athywren says

    Oh, I love those kinds of messages! How wonderfully over-familiar.
    I used to get them from concerned Christians all the time, telling me about their drug addictions, and how they used to beat their wives and break into people’s homes, and how finding Jesus made it all go away – and Jesus can take my drug addiction away too! What? I don’t have a drug addiction? Ok, alcohol then. No? Gambling? Speeding tickets? Parking fines? Oh! Lust! Everyone gets lust! You’ve looked at women and been attracted? Jesus can cure that! Oh no, wait, not that!
    The first clue that they weren’t really old friends who had tracked me down was that they used my username, which is not my real name… I think the second was that most of them were from southern US states, while I’m from a northern county in England, and very few of my old school friends lived more than a few miles from me.

    Aaaanyway,

    Why should anyone think for a moment that the beliefs caused by that neurophysiology would be mostly true?

    We shouldn’t. That’s why skepticism is a thing.
    Humans believe stupid things for stupid reasons (as well as sensible things for stupid reasons) and we have to enforce checks on our thinking before we can even begin to hope to have cause to believe that most of our beliefs are true. It’s like asking why you’d expect a computer to be free of viruses if it wasn’t built by Tom Cruise – you shouldn’t, and that’s why we install anti-virus software. (Tom Cruise, of course, builds computers to be entirely immune to viruses. It’s true! It’s one of his Scientology superpowers.) I’d argue that most of our beliefs are false, even when do enforce those skeptical checks, because we can only analyse so much of what’s going on in our heads. Of course, it’s entirely possible that this is a false belief on my part.

    I find it quite funny that theistic philosophers bring this up as an objection to naturalism when most of the world’s population is theistic. Sure, if there’s no god and the existence of life and intelligence is a purely natural thing, then there’s no reason to believe that most of our beliefs would be true… so belief in gods is pretty much what we’d expect if there were none. Meanwhile, if a god or several gods did exist, and their creation of us implied an ability to reliably hold true beliefs, surely we’d believe only in those gods, and not in contradictory ones as is currently the case? At least, this is how it seems to me. I haven’t really looked at this as deeply as other topics, so there are probably gaping holes all over the logic that I haven’t yet seen.