Let’s assume, for the moment, God loves us.
Let’s assume, for the moment, He’s real.
Let’s assume that He helps us fight Satan,
And He answers our prayers when we kneel.
Let’s assume that His power is infinite
Let’s assume that we bask in His glow
Let’s assume he’s beyond our perception…
Then tell me… just how do we know?
Let’s assume God keeps holding back earthquakes
Let’s assume He is calming the storm
Let’s assume that without Him, the devil
Can cause one, then another, to form
Let’s assume we would all die of cancer
Were it not for God keeping us well
Let’s assume we’d be worse off without Him
Now, tell me… just how can we tell?
Let’s assume God is here, all around us
Let’s assume He’s an infinite force
Let’s assume there is nowhere without Him
Let’s assume as a matter of course.
Let’s assume He’s in each observation
There’s no place without Him, to compare
Tell me, how could a human discern this
From a God who is simply not there?
Musing just a bit, after the jump:
I guess I’m agnostic as well as atheist. I get into these
arguments discussions with people, and I really have no problem whatsoever when they say “you’re closed-minded; you have to be open to the possibility that God exists!” Ok, let’s assume He does exist. Let’s go there.
How could you possibly know?
I mean this two ways, actually–the first is in the verse above: if God is everywhere, He’s a constant, and we have no “no God” condition to compare to. The human sensory and perceptual systems, and our technological refinements on them, allow us to detect change, or the presence vs absence of a thing. But in order to know that our detection works, we actually have to have a comparison to make–if a smoke detector works, it discriminates between the presence and absence of smoke; if a god detector works, it discriminates between the presence and absence of a god. If God is omnipresent, He is undetectable. We can’t know if things would be better or worse without Him, cos he’s everywhere all the time (not all gods have this problem, of course).
The second meaning is, we’ve positively defined the characteristics of God to be beyond our ability to know. We can’t know He’s omniscient; we can only know he knows everything we know. If He knows more, we can’t know that; it’s beyond our ability to discern. If He’s omnipotent, we can’t know; we can only know He’s really really powerful. If He can do anything at all, except tie a knot in a shoelace that won’t come undone as soon as He leaves His house, we can’t know that unless we witness it… and there are an infinite number of things we might not be there to witness. Again, we simply cannot know.
Revelatory knowledge, of course, is useless; there are any number of institutionalized individuals who claim special revealed knowledge. How can we be certain one (which one?) of them doesn’t have The Truth? Our human limitations mean that we cannot know if God exists.
And this is when we start off by assuming He does. We can, of course, start off by assuming that no god exists–recognizing that it is an assumption–and we will find no reason to reject that assumption, either. We could find reasons to believe in a god, as Dennett and others have written, in our culture, and in our early attempts at explaining the world around us. There is no need to posit an actual god, in order to end up with a population of believers.