If god is inscrutable, how do they know what god wants?

The Vatican actually has an observatory and actual astronomers working in it. The observatory apparently came about because of the church’s deep interest in creating accurate calendars since the fixing of some holy days such as Easter depend upon the positions of stars and planets. Maybe they also secretly hoped that they might get a glimpse of god as he wandered around in the sky.

One of those astronomers is an American named brother Guy Consolmagno. He has co-authored a book with another Vatican astronomer that seeks to address popular religious questions that they are asked such as “Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?” They have set themselves the unenviable (and in my opinion impossible) task of trying to show that belief in god is compatible with a scientific worldview.

In an interview Consolmagno says things like:

“God is reason. If you reject reason, you are rejecting God”


“The thing that really bothers me is the creeping fundamentalism among Catholics who don’t know their own faith and who are desperately trying to do the right thing and to be faithful believers, thinking that they have to sacrifice their reason to follow God. And that is exactly the opposite of what God wants.” [My emphasis-MS]

These kinds of statements are quite annoying for different reasons.

The first one sounds profound but on close examination is seen to be meaningless. What does it mean to equate god with reason? The goal seems to be tie the idea of god inextricably with some undeniable virtue that cannot be rejected. What he seems to be trying to do is make people think that one can reject god only by rejecting reason. The meaninglessness becomes manifest when we combine that statement with another popular one that says that god is love. Then using simple logic, don’t we arrive at the statement that love is reason?

Both statements reveal how religious apologists blithely assert that they know what god is like and what god wants when they find it convenient to do so. But if you start probing them about contradictions that belief in a god creates, such as that the existence of suffering if an omnipotent god acts only out of love, they will immediately retreat to the ‘mysterious ways’ escape clause that god is inscrutable and our puny minds cannot really understand the ways that he works, contradicting the idea that reason can explain god’s actions.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Then using simple logic, don’t we arrive at the statement that love is reason?

    Yes. And by that logic, I have deduced that longtime CBS news reporter Harry Reasoners’s real name was Harry Lover.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    I wonder if brother Guy Consolmagno has run these thoughts by his new boss, the fellow that thinks exorcism is a useful process.

  3. Randomfactor says

    Am I wrong, or doesn’t Godel’s famous theorem apply to reason? So god’s incomplete? So much for perfection.

    Oh, he’s complete? Not reason, then.

    Sure, god’s inscrutable, but they found a way to unscrew him.

  4. Thersites says

    In fairness to the Vatican, they’ve got some pretty good astronomers. It’s worth remembering that the theory of the “Big Bang” was first put forward by a Jesuit and some astronomers rejected it because of what they thought were its religious implications.

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