Test drive for this argument against the existence of a perfect God that wants to communicate with humanity (I’m more familiar with Christian theology)
**P1) God is perfect**
**P2) God wants to communicate his message to humanity**
**P3) If God is perfect and wants to communicate with humanity, God is a perfect communicator**
**C1) God is a perfect communicator (P1, P2, P3)**
**P4) The purpose of communication is to deliver a message, thus a perfect communicator delivers the message perfectly, without any ambiguity or vagueness**
**C2) God delivers the message he wants to communicate perfectly, without any ambiguity or vagueness (C1, P4)**
**P5) God’s message is NOT communicated perfectly, without any ambiguity or vagueness. On the contrary, the sacred texts he inspired are open to countless interpretations.**
**CONTRADICTION (C2, P5)**
Some anticipations of possible objections:
(a) God’s language and thoughts are so incredibly complex and above human understanding, no surprise that the thousands of people who dedicated their life in good faith to understand God’s message for the past 2000 years didn’t make any progress on the subject
REPLY: Communication means being able to make oneself understood. If the celestial nature of God prevents him from being able to make himself understood by his interlocutor, then, if P2 still holds, he is not a perfect communicator. Therefore, he is not perfect.
(b) The fact that the sacred text or texts use symbolism, allegory and other forms of communication that leave ample room for debate is not an excuse for the lack of clarity, it’s exactly the point. Why can a human being deliver a message clearly and unambiguously, while God can’t?
(c) The reasons substantiating premise P5 are the following:
(c.i) Depending on the source, there are between 4200 and 100000 religions in the world. A God that communicates perfectly would not have caused this poor reception of his message.
(c.ii) Within existing religions, like Christianity, there are major disagreements on what God’s message tells us about his nature, his plan, his rules to access heaven and so forth. These religions cannot agree on what text is actually divinely inspired, and even if they perfectly agree, they do not draw the same conclusions from reading the same exact text. If people in good faith who spent their lives studying such texts cannot agree on the meaning conveyed by them, then there must necessarily be room for misinterpretation in the way the message is conveyed.
(c.iii) By definition, symbols, allegories and metaphors are ambiguous and open to interpretation to a degree much higher than statements of fact to be taken literally. And sacred texts inspired by God employ these techniques to an extremely high degree.
I agree, but that’s why I’m Catholic and not Protestant. We recognize that no finite text can have only one good faith interpretation, which is why an external interpreter is necessary. This is why Christ set apart the Apostles to help lead his Church, and they institutionalized episcopal authority to carry on this task.
In fact, *sola Scriptura*, far from just being contradictory for the reasons you give, is actually not what Christians historically believed.
Great question! To any theist reading this, please answer the following:
1) What combination of personal characteristics do you think is required to correctly interpret your holy scriptures? Is it a sincere desire to understand the scriptures? Hard work? A powerful intellect?
2) Do you believe that no other theist who has lived and died and whose views contradicted yours, has had this set of characteristics?
I fully agree through C2. Everything we need to know is plain throughout creation.
Attempting to understand God in language is a smidgen like exhaustively describing how you move your to in words. Best we can do is a rough outline with many holes.
Maybe God is all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) and chose to look back upon this flowing universe forming within from the perspective of trillions of limited minds. Maybe we are the universe observing itself and playing hide and seek. Maybe the self Christ calls us to deny and which burns away in hell is an invention formed in the delusion that we are separate beings.
Or maybe Vishnu Krishna unfolds the same thing that I am.
I think that pretty much every human on earth at least knows that there exists a concept that we call God. And everyone has a pretty good general idea what it means, that is, being the creator of everything.
And I’m also gussing that pretty much everybody who has a basic idea of God also has a basic idea what (the abrahamic) God expects of us, that is being a good person and to love and respect all life.
So, from a Christian perspective, at least, their God certainly succeeded in spreading the most important part of his message in such a fundamental and easy easy to understand form that even small children can understand it.
God is not just trying to convince you he exists, or of course that would trivially disprove the existence of God. I think you need to back out a little bit and look at it more abstractly. The entirety of your life is ultimately the communication from God to you. God’s purpose for you is not to merely believe he exists, but to live, grow, laugh, and cry, and through this life learn wisdom. Every moment of your life is a communication from God and only you can decipher what it means.
>The fact that the sacred text or texts use symbolism, allegory and other forms of communication that leave ample room for debate is not an excuse for the lack of clarity, it’s exactly the point.
You have been given the tools to figure out what these texts mean, in your own way and at your own level. Symbolism, allegory, and metaphor can mean many different things at the same time and convey many different truths. You can study them throughout your entire life and always learn something new.
If God’s communication was perfect, he wouldn’t rely on ancient texts that are copies of copies of translations of copies, and he wouldn’t rely on languages that die out.
You’re assuming that said deity would *want* to communicate to everyone. Even within a Christian framework, Jesus himself *says* this is not true.
Not that I believe Said deity is omnipotent, but. Your entire assumption turns on P2. If P2 is false, then it falls apart.
>A God who is omnipotent and wants to communicate his message to humanity is contadictory (sic)
The way most theists I know understand omnipotence (“all power”) is “all” within a bound set. In other words, God can do anything good and in line with God’s nature… not literally anything. The “any” or “all” (in ‘all powerful’) is a bound set, bound by God’s nature… so bound by things like goodness, reason/logic (logos), etc. For instance, in the case of the Christian God (since you’re most familiar with Christian theology), the same scriptures that say it is all powerful also say it cannot lie.
If we assume a concept of ‘omnipotence’ that is not bound by anything, even by logic, then we might as well just stop trying to coherently communicate about the topic and start mumbling nonsense at one another. In that case an argument from omnipotence would be as simple as, “There are no circular squares; if God then God would be able to draw them; therefore God doesn’t exist.”
>God is perfect
According to who’s definition of perfect? In other words, perfect means ‘having all desired qualities.’ So okay, God is perfect… according to who’s desires? Who’s desired qualities are you stating by premise the God has?
Mine? Your’s? The God’s?
>God wants to communicate his message to humanity
As far as the Christian God, I would certainly say God wants to communicate his message to some humans sometimes. But to all humans all the time? It doesn’t appear so. In Matthew 13:13, for one example, Christ said he taught in parables (which can be harder to understand than direct talk) so that some with ears would not ear and some with eyes would not see… in other words, so that some would *not* understand.
>God is a perfect communicator
Again… perfect according to who’s desired qualities?
>a perfect communicator delivers the message perfectly, without any ambiguity or vagueness
So, assuming you’re defining ‘perfect’ as ‘having all *your own* desired qualities, basically what you’re saying is that you have no desire for vagueness. But what if someone else does desire some vagueness sometimes? For instance what if someone enjoys riddles? Who’s to say their desire is ‘imperfect’ (undesirable) and your’s is ‘perfect?’ Or what if someone, a lawyer for instance, needs to convince a jury. Often the best way to do that, rather than just tell the jury the facts and the conclusion in one swoop, is to slowly reveal facts, give them some premises the facts lead to, allow the conclusion to be a bit vague as all this is happening, and then allow the jury to reach the conclusion on their own (by putting the revealed facts and premises together on their own). Some lawyers take this approach because people are more likely to have the most confidence in things they have learned on their own, or at least interactively. So this style of convincing can increase the chances that the other sides’s attorney will not be able to talk the jury out of believing truth (or in the case of a biased jury, make it less likely they will be able to talk themselves out of believing the truth).
Do you really think there is never anything good or desirable about vagueness at times?
>God’s message is NOT communicated perfectly,
That depends on what God’s message is. It also depends on who’s standard of ‘perfect’ you’re using.
>without any ambiguity or vagueness. On the contrary, the sacred texts he inspired are open to countless interpretations.
I would certainly agree that the scriptures are easy to misunderstand and open to many interpretations. Then again, the scriptures agree too. They admit of themselves they are easy to misunderstand (see 2 Peter 3:16). So, assuming them to be ‘perfect’ for whatever desires God has, evidently ‘perfect’ (according to God) involves some vagueness.
That would make sense, to me at least, assuming a God that wants people to eventually have understanding. The reason I say so is because, logically speaking (and I am assuming a logical understanding of the word omnipotence, where ‘all’ is a bound set at least bound by logic) if there is ever to be understanding experienced first there has to be misunderstanding or confusion experienced. Otherwise understanding would not be experientially recognizable for what it is, as there would be no way to distinguish it from misunderstanding.
So perhaps God allows us to struggle with confusion for a time in order to eventually grant understanding… and now is the time of confusion. Also perhaps God allows this struggle to occur at an individual level and time-scale. Furthermore, what if God doesn’t want some people to ever have understanding? In other words, what if God’s wisdom helps people achieve their goals… and some people have bad goals. In that case, a good God should not communicate clearly as otherwise it would be helping people accomplish even more bad than they already are. So God may allow even good people to be confused for a time, so that they can have greater understanding later. And God may allow bad people to be confused period, so they can’t be as effective at their bad deeds during this temporary time of (everyone’s) confusion as they otherwise would be.
>Why can a human being deliver a message clearly and unambiguously, while God can’t?
Who says God can’t? If God has delivered a message to Jack unambiguously, let’s say through the holy Spirit or even through Jesus Christ himself appearing to the person and saying things, and God hasn’t delivered a message to Jill, that wouldn’t mean God “can’t” say things unambiguously. It would mean God hasn’t yet said anything unambiguously to some people.
>Depending on the source, there are between 4200 and 100000 religions in the world. A God that communicates perfectly would not have caused this poor reception of his message.
Again, this depends on who’s definition of perfection you’re using (specifically what desired qualities have to be met). You seem to want everyone to have never experienced any confusion. However, if we want everyone to eventual have total clarity… then it isn’t logical to want everyone to have never had confusion because, as I mentioned above, logically speaking if there is ever to be understanding experienced first there has to be misunderstanding or confusion experienced. Otherwise understanding would not be experientially recognizable for what it is, as there would be no way to distinguish it from misunderstanding.
So for everyone to eventually have perfect understanding of his message, even if God is omnipotent God would first have to allow everyone to experience some confusion first in order to achieve that goal. If God, then physical life isn’t necessarily the end of existence (as there is spiritual reality), and so now could simply be the time we all experience varying degrees of confusion for varying amounts of time… with some gaining more understanding today and others tomorrow or even in the next phase of life.
>Within existing religions, like Christianity, there are major disagreements on what God’s message tells us about his nature, his plan, his rules to access heaven and so forth.
True, but how much of that is because God is weak and how much of that is instead because many aren’t ready (whether because they have bad goals, or perhaps just because some need more time of confusion before they are ready to have all the understanding that is possible). None of us could say, if we aren’t God.
What if God was interested in communication, but not anymore?
What if God hates us for killing his son? And we just wrote into the Bible what we wanted to hear? What if he abandoned us.
He could still be “perfect”, but lost interest in his creation.
Or maybe perfection is in the eyes of the beholder.
Like how kids think their mom or dad is perfect.
“My dad could kick your dad’s ass” you get it.
If I want to see a distant galaxy accurately, does the quality of the optics in my telescope matter? Or does it only depend on how perfect the photons are, coming in? (Or perhaps, how perfectly they made it here, not being absorbed or diverted.)
Perhaps one might consider the conclusion, that P2 is false: God doesn’t want to communicate a message.
The God of God believers can rise beyond any contradiction because he is so perfect that logic cannot assail him. Any true believer would know this in his heart which is the alleged seat of his thought. What pleases the believer most is what will program him.
God doesn’t want to communicate his message perfectly, the Spirit of God is what attracts people to the truth not words.
Perfect simply means whole or complete, and so the current message that God has intended to communicate has been done so perfectly, that is; it is wholly and completely what it should be.
>C2) God delivers the message he wants to communicate perfectly, without any ambiguity or vagueness (C1, P4)
In the Islamic narrative, God choses to communicate some things clearly and other ambiguously. So this point is denied. You are jumping from God *can* deliver a message 100% clearly to God *must* deliver said message with 100% clarity.
Where is the logical reasoning behind God being compelled to deliver things with 100% clarity?
it is He who has sent this Scripture down to you [Prophet]. Some of its verses are definite in meaning- these are the cornerstone of the Scripture- and others are ambiguous. The perverse at heart eagerly pursue the ambiguities in their attempt to make trouble and to pin down a specific meaning of their own: only God knows the true meaning. Those firmly grounded in knowledge say, ‘We believe in it: it is all from our Lord’- only those with real perception will take heed. 3:7
هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنزَلَ عَلَيۡكَ ٱلۡكِتَٰبَ مِنۡهُ ءَايَٰتٌ مُّحۡكَمَٰتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ ٱلۡكِتَٰبِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَٰبِهَٰتٌۖ فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِمۡ زَيۡغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَٰبَهَ مِنۡهُ ٱبۡتِغَآءَ ٱلۡفِتۡنَةِ وَٱبۡتِغَآءَ تَأۡوِيلِهِۦۗ وَمَا يَعۡلَمُ تَأۡوِيلَهُۥٓ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُۗ وَٱلرَّٰسِخُونَ فِى ٱلۡعِلۡمِ يَقُولُونَ ءَامَنَّا بِهِۦ كُلٌّ مِّنۡ عِندِ رَبِّنَاۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّآ أُوْلُواْ ٱلۡأَلۡبَٰبِ
>By definition, symbols, allegories and metaphors are ambiguous and open to interpretation to a degree much higher than statements of fact to be taken literally
While I generally agree with your point, this seems false: “she’s a bitch” seems less ambiguous and open to interpretation then “this has increased by 37% in the last quarter”. Or to use the bible, “I am the good vine- outside me you will not blossom” is pretty obvious in meaning, “joseph was a descendent of David” has been the subject of countless interpretations.
The problem with the bible and other holy books isn’t it uses symbols and allegories- they’re perfectly good ways of giving clear information if used well. It’s that holy books use both symbols and literal truth in a highly confusing manner.
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