In Gospel Hypothesis 1, we looked at the most obvious consequence that would result from the existence of an almighty, all-loving, all-wise God: He would be here with us, tangibly, visibly, and audibly interacting with us because He loves us and wants to build the kind of deep, personal relationship with us that will produce the kind of faith in Him that He wants us to have. But would He always show up in tangible form? Maybe you’re Felix Baumgartner standing on a tiny platform miles above the earth, and there’s just not room for another person to stand next to you. Or maybe you’re a woman taking a shower, and it would just be awkward to have your Father walk in on you. What do the Gospel Hypothesis and the Myth Hypothesis imply regarding the voice of God?
According to the Gospel Hypothesis, God is all-good, all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful. Would a God like that be capable of speaking directly to our hearts and minds? Obviously He could indeed. The next question, then, is would He? Again, obviously yes. He’s all-loving, and love desires communication and contact.
What, then, is He going to say? He’s all-good, so He’s not going to lie to us or deceive us. He’s not going to tell the Catholics that the Pope is the vicar of Christ and then tell the Baptists that the Pope is the Antichrist, or tell Fred Phelps that He hates gays and then turn around and tell gays that He loves them. He’s going to preach the same, consistent Gospel to each and every member of the human race, from the time they’re old enough to understand speech.
That’s going to have some significant consequences of its own. There won’t be any atheists, for one thing, because God is going to be perfectly capable of answering every objection any atheist might propose. But no one is going to raise any atheistic objections in the first place, since everyone is in constant communication with Him, and it would just be silly to deny it.
You’re also not going to be able to deceive people. It’s very hard to tell a lie in the presence of someone who knows and cares about the truth, and God is Someone Who knows and cares about the truth. The only way you could ever get away with lying to someone would be if God wanted them to be deceived, and He’s never going to want that, because He’s all-good and all-loving. Not only would a lie be harmful to the victim, but keeping silent would make God Himself an accessory to the deception, and thus a sinner. In the presence of an all-good and all-loving God, deception and even misunderstandings would be impossible.
This in turn is going to have a serious impact on the possibility of war. All potential combatants are going to worship the same God, who is going to be in constant contact with all parties. And what better diplomat could you ask for than an almighty, peace-loving God? Granted, some people might not want to obey God, but if the carrot doesn’t work, there’s always the stick. Are you going to go to war against the people you know are on God’s side, knowing that He is telling them exactly where you’re going to strike? Desert or surrender now, soldiers, ’cause you ain’t winning this one.
The same is true for lesser forms of violence. God knows exactly when and where the terrorists and muggers are going to strike, and he knows exactly who’s swindling whom, and so on. It’s going to be essentially impossible to get away with any kind of malfeasance, because God is watching, and He tells on you.
Clearly, the Gospel Hypothesis has some striking implications, but so does the Myth Hypothesis. If the Myth Hypothesis is true, then there is no god to speak to mankind, and thus the “voice of God” is going to consist of whatever people imagine it to be. That means every believer is going to imagine God saying whatever seems right in their own eyes. Different religions will arise, shaped and formed by various psychosocial influences and political trends. Divisions will arise within religions and between religions. People will come to power on the strength of their ability to declare for others what the “voice of God” is saying. And in the absence of any real god to serve as a common point of reference, there won’t be any way for believers to converge on one, common, worldwide religion.
The absence of any real God will also reduce God to “saying” only what people think and expect. The voice of God won’t be able to tell you anything you didn’t already know or couldn’t make a wild guess about. Believers will have to resort to the use of rigged scorekeeping, where you throw out a bunch of guesses and/or prayers regarding the future, and then only count the ones that work. Superstition will be the only “infallible” guide to what God has said, and then only with respect to what He’s said about things where you already know the outcome. He can’t tell you what you don’t already know, because He doesn’t exist.
So the Myth Hypothesis implies strikingly different results than are implied by the Gospel Hypothesis. What does the real world evidence say? Here’s a hint: believers are going to look at the implications of the Gospel Hypothesis, and then immediately begin proposing additional rationalizations designed to make the Gospel Hypothesis predict the same things the Myth Hypothesis does. The Myth Hypothesis is not only our best guide to what we’re going to find in the real world, but it’s also the best guide to what kind of additional rationalizations believers are going to invent in order to try and make it sound like there really is an all-everything deity out there.
That kind of reliability can’t be just a coincidence.