Of Gods, God, And Men, Ctd

This post made a lot of readers bristle:

You have to be kidding. “We don’t know what God is” has got to be just about the most unintentionally hilarious statement about religion I have ever heard. For the longest time, atheists have been trying to make the point that the concept of God as defined in every faith is impossible. The concept of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omni-benevolent deity is self-contradictory using elementary logic.

Now that the New Atheism has gained traction by pointing out the absurdities of this belief, you and your co-believers are evidently so desperate to cling to legitimacy that you are willing to concede the whole argument in order to perform a little bit of rhetorical jujitsu, i.e., “we don’t know what God is, but he is the reason there is a universe at all.” McCabe states this, and you apparently endorse it, with no justification or support at all. It’s just a claim of knowledge backed with a whole lot of nothing. Presumably the purpose of this is to move the argument away from where atheism is succeeding on the merits – pointing out the logical inconsistencies of religious belief – into more favorable and murky territory. “Richard Dawkins get it wrong, because our God isn’t like all those other gods. Because we say so.” This is utter piffle, unworthy of you or your blog.

Every religion ascribes the very existence of the universe to their deity or deities. Otherwise they wouldn’t be gods. Saying “God is in everything” is meaningless. It doesn’t change the fact that religious belief is based on pure faith and nothing else.

Another reader:

Whenever I hear about the version of god that is beyond our comprehension and beyond our reality I just don’t understand how this helps the theist make their case for their particular religion.

Such a god could be any god.  Such a god could be an alien machine intelligence running a simulation on an alien supercomputer to see how organics may have created the first machine intelligence (and we are that simulation).  Such a god could be as concerned about humanity as we are about the bacteria that grows around volcano vents a mile below the ocean.

How exactly does such an undefinable god tie back to the beliefs of any religion?  How does that help make the case that Jesus was anything other than a man that was killed by other men?  How does that help make the case that Moses didn’t carve the Ten Commandments himself?  How does it make the case that Joseph Smith was wrong?

In the attempt to not be pinned down to any part of reality, this argument makes the case that man cannot know the mind of god and hence know what god wants, expects or demands.  If that is the case, you are better off believing in no gods and just trying to be a good person lest you believe something based on the wrong religion and get punished for doing so.


Argh, I wish I hadn’t broken my rule to avoid your site on Sundays, but I wanted to see what you’d said about the Iran nuclear deal.

I am no fan of Dawkins – I don’t need to buy a book to feel good about my Atheism – but this sort of pseudo-philosophy drives me bonkers.  Why is it hard to imagine that religion, like every other social construct, has evolved over time to fulfill whatever role people need it to do in their own lives? We had an angry sky father in the past, and an unexplainable cosmic something else now. Dawkins’ quip simply suggests that you consider your cosmology is, perhaps, as much a fantasy as those of all the other religions you dismiss as false.  You really can’t reject this suggestion by declaring that your god isn’t like all those other gods because he’s different and beyond human comprehension.  Can’t you see that someone outside your beliefs might think that claim absurd?

I promise to avoid the Dish on Sundays henceforth.  Please keep any breaking news to the remainder of the week if you could. [The above video of] Bender talking to God is my penance for breaking my own rules and letting myself get irritated.

Update from a reader:

A couple of things struck me about your reader who brags that he tries to avoid your page on Sundays.  (1) Haven’t you posted a fair amount of atheist thoughts, links, and quotes on Sundays? (2) If theists are routinely accused of being insular and closed minded, how is it any different when an atheist refuses to engage with a thinker merely because that thinker expresses a Jewish, Christian, or Muslim thought?  If I change the channel when Richard Dawkins comes on, your reader would accuse me of being afraid of the truth.  But when they refuse to read your page on Sunday because there might be a Francis Spufford quote, they think this makes them open minded in comparison with the narrow-minded theists.  The inconsistency is glaring.


As many have said before, we made God in our own image and imbued it with human characteristics.  In some cases it’s a good way for people to understand that we’re part of something far greater and to seek meaning beyond the materialistic world we’ve created, but mostly it’s just an excuse for people to pretend they’re morally superior to others, to justify their own bigotry, and occasionally to kill each other, sometimes over very benign differences in belief. Christians may not be as bad now as they were in previous days, but they’re still quite capable of violence.  Frankly, I think the human race cannot grow until we purge ourselves of these superstitions. The universe is a vast and wonderful thing, and we do it a disservice to humanize it.