You Don’t Know If God Exists…Or Doesn’t Exist

You Don’t Know If God Exists…Or Doesn’t Exist September 23, 2014

Friend of the blog and Yale philosopher Keith DeRose has a fascinating interview up at the NYTimes’s The Stone. On the heels of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s admission that he sometimes doubts the existence of God, Keith argues that no one knows whether God exists.

But, more politically unpopular these days, he argues just as strongly that atheists cannot prove — indeed, don’t even know — that God doesn’t exist:

The thought that God exists does strike many atheists as bizarre. But, in contrast to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, there are all of these theists and agnostics who do not find the thought of God’s existence bizarre, and I really think they ruin our atheist friends’ hopes for easy knowledge here. The basic point is that, when there are many other apparently sensible people who disagree with you, you need a good argument to claim that you know they’re wrong.

Keith’s point is that atheists can’t simply write off belief in a God because they find such a belief bizarre. That’s not a counter-argument.

Neither is it a counter-argument to demand that theists provide conclusive evidence of a deity:

When there’s a genuine dispute, a lack of evidence on the other side does not give you knowledge if you don’t have evidence for your claim.

Which leads to Keith’s most startling claim:

My suggestion is that neither theists nor atheists know whether God exists. And here I don’t just mean that they don’t know for certain, but that they don’t know at all.

In other words, certainty in their position is philosophically implausible for both camps. People can reasonably believe in God or disbelieve in God, but they cannot reasonably claim to know that there is a God or is not a God. We’re all agnostics.

But Keith cautions that agnosticism should not lead to apathy. It’s important for human beings to take stands on issues of meaning — to dialogue and debate them, to argue over them, even to change our minds. That’s good news for a theology blog. But it’s also a challenge for those of us (like me) who have more and more friends who are Nones. I know a lot of people who’ve drifted away from the church, some to atheism, but many to apathy. They’re not thinking about God regularly, for their ideas of God have been sullied by their disaffection with the church.

I’ll admit that I’m reluctant to bring up theological matters when I’m having a beer with one of these friends, or over a night of poker. I don’t want to impose, I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Inevitably, they ask about my latest book, but I quickly try to shift the conversation away from the intricacies of atonement theory, back to something less awkward.

Surprisingly, my friends often want to hear more. They press, interested in the ideas of God’s culpability in Jesus’ death, even if they have their own doubts about Jesus and God. What I’m learning is that many people in my racial, socio-economic cohort, though they’ve forsaken the church, are still desirous of having conversation about God. Even, as Keith suggests, taking positions on God and God-related issues.

It’s a lesson to me — maybe to all of us — that regardless of people’s involvement in communities of faith, we should regularly be catalyzing conversations about God and meaning with those we hold dear.

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  • Peter A

    Ah, this reminds me of the old Pascal’s Wager. One might as well believe in God just in case.

    One thing that Keith said irks me:
    “Neither is it a counter-argument to demand that theists provide conclusive evidence of a deity:”

    Here I find a major flaw in Keith’s argument. When a person like Keith or yourself puts so much faith into God and so much effort into spreading the word of God thereby giving the notion of the existence of God credence it begs the question “where’s the proof?”. If you want to base your life’s work on this belief, why can’t I demand you show me your evidence of the object of your obsession/profession? Why isn’t this a decent counter-argument?

  • WilmRoget

    “We’re all agnostics.”

    Yeah right, and we’re all really bisexual, or we’re all really heterosexual, or we all really vegetarians, or we all really omnivores, etc.

    “We’re all agnostics.”

    No. Some of us experience the Divine. We are finite, so we cannot experience the totality of the infinite Divine, but then, as finite beings, we cannot really experience the totality of many things. But those of us who have experienced the Divine know that the Divine exists. We are not agnostics.

    It is arrogant egotism to essentially tell me that I have not experienced what I have experienced. Keith needs to learn to speak for himself and his own limited experience set and stop insisting that his limited experiences define the limits of everyone else’s experiences.

    What he is doing is no different than the heterosexual who says “I haven’t experienced homo-erotic desire, so no one really does”, or the bisexual who says “I am attracted to both genders, so really, everyone is”, or the person who says “I’m revolted by meat, so really, everyone is”, or the person who says “I don’t get opera, so no one does”.

    And it tells me that Keith’s testimony about his experiences are not trustworthy. Since he assumes that I am either wrong about my experiences of the Divine, or faking them, and since he can only really know that based on his knowledge of himself, he must know that he makes claims that he knows are wrong or fabricated. Therefore, I should not believe him about anything that cannot be independently verified.

    • davehuth

      “he assumes that I am either wrong about my experiences of the Divine, or faking them”

      I’m reasonably certain you didn’t read the same interview that I read. This is nothing remotely like anything Keith said.

      • WilmRoget

        It is derived directly from the quote from Keith, specifically the phrase “We’re all agnostics.”

        Your dismissal strongly suggests that you cannot refute the analysis I provided.

    • WilmRoget, you seem to be talking about experiences, while Keith was talking about knowledge. A person can have an experience and – this is where faith comes in – she can imbue that experience with religious meaning. But this is different from saying we have knowledge, in the hard epistemological sense of the word. If I act in faith, it looks differently than when I act in knowledge.

      Would we say that a person who believes God has told him to murder his own child has knowledge? If we say he does not have knowledge, are we invalidating his experience? I don’t think so. Abraham acted in faith, not in knowledge. You can judge his actions bad or praiseworthy, but I don’t see how you can say his actions were based on knowledge. There’s a dangerous edge to establishing our religious experiences that way. This isn’t to invalidate faith or experience – but it is true that when faith is treated as knowledge, it can lead to misunderstandings and worse.

      • WilmRoget

        Guess where knowledge comes from? Go on, guess.

        Knowledge is based on experience of at least one form or another. Further, you are making erroneous assumptions about faith.

        Knowledge that is not based on experience in some way is hypothesis, guess, conjecture, or possibly philosophy.

        “Would we say that a person who believes God has told him to murder his own child has knowledge?’

        I would say that your use of false comparison indicates a lack of critical thinking skills on your part.

        ” Abraham acted in faith, not in knowledge.”

        No, you are simply playing fast and loose with the meaning of both terms.

        • If faith were interchangeable with knowledge, we would not need different terms. I am talking about religious experience, as opposed to other ways we establish knowledge which may actually conflict with our direct experiences, such as science (which in Latin means knowledge). If you don’t like my comparison, consider another: Surely you’ve run into someone in your life whose religious experience doesn’t jibe with yours – they believe in different things, or perhaps they believe in a different god. You can’t both be right, yet there is no way to establish who is right except personal experiences and beliefs. We can’t empirically test it to work out who’s got it right. Faith is ultimately not reducible to such tests – but that makes it difficult to base shared knowledge on. Perhaps you wish to say that faith gives you “knowledge” of God, but you must admit that this is a very different kind of “knowledge” than the kind we can all agree on (such as quantifiable facts, like the height of the Eiffel Tower). Otherwise we can only ever appeal to differing subjective experiences, or different untestable dogmatic formulas. In an extreme form this could lead to solipsism, where you believe your own experiences constitute greater knowledge than the methods we’ve established to create shared knowledge.

          Would you say that a person who lacks your experience of the Divine lacks knowledge?

          • WilmRoget

            “If faith were interchangeable with knowledge, we would not need different terms.”

            So you should stop trying to use them interchangeably. I did not.

            ” I am talking about religious experience, as opposed to other ways we establish knowledge which may actually conflict with our direct experiences,”

            So you are making a false distinction and a false assumption. Bear in mind, since our sensory apparatus is limited, and our brains edit, censor and revise the data it receives from our sensory organs, it may well be that the most direct experiences we have are actually those of the Divine.

            “Surely you’ve run into someone in your life whose religious experience doesn’t jibe with yours”

            I run into people whose experiences of music, food, theater, art, and pretty much everything else doesn’t jibe with mine.

            “Faith is ultimately not reducible to such tests -”

            Again, you are conflating faith with experience. That is not helpful.

            ” Perhaps you wish to say that faith gives you “knowledge” of God,”

            If that were the case, I would have said so. But again, for some reason, you are confusing faith and experience. I said that I experience the Divine, many people have.

            “but you must admit that this is a very different kind of “knowledge” than the kind we can all agree on”

            Why should I agree, or disagree, with your strawman?

            “Otherwise we can only ever appeal to differing subjective experiences,”

            Now there is an appeal to a subjective experience. As is your reference to the Eiffel tower, since its height will vary depending on temperature, the resolution of whatever device used to measure it, and other factors.

            “solipsism”

            You aren’t really using that word accurately, however, is not atheism itself an extreme form of “extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.” – one that goes to the extreme of defining the totality of existence according to the feelings and analyses of atheists?

            “Would you say that a person who lacks your experience of the Divine lacks knowledge?”

            That would be dishonest, as is your insinuation.

            • Giauz Ragnarock

              “…is not atheism itself an extreme form of “extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.” – one that goes to the extreme of defining the totality of existence according to the feelings and analyses of atheists?”

              I mean not to nitpick. My experience of the theological spectrum is that theism and atheism describe whether one believes or lacks belief that their is a god(s). I no longer find myself able to believe in Jesus or any other god(s). That’s my context in speaking for myself.

              • WilmRoget

                Your experience of atheism is particularly shallow. It is akin to describing homophobia, for example, as ‘disbelief in homosexuality’, when the actual message and consequences are far greater.

                • Giauz Ragnarock

                  I don’t know how to be deeper or shallower about it. This is where I am on this particular issue (whether I believe a god(s) exist).

                  I can not relate to the comparison you make with homophobia. The key thing I notice among all or nearly all statements that LGBT+ people and allies like myself consider homophobic is the presence of “we all must fear…” statements concerning homosexuality (example from my former church: “Jesus would never make anyone a homosexual. It’s a choice.” == “We all must fear that Jesus really does intentionally make gay people, and in this case we are talking out our sphincters.” ).

                  • WilmRoget

                    Failure (“I don’t know” and “I can not relate”) do not lead to a convincing rebuttal or argument.

                    You could take a deeper understanding of atheism by incorporating its implications, message about people of faith, and consequences, which is not difficult.

                    You could relate to the comparison of homophobia and atheism by paying attention to the many, many similarities between the two.

                    You could note, for example, that atheists blame the world’s problems on religion, and homophobes blame the world’s problems on homosexuality. You could note that atheists routinely declare that people of faith are mentally ill, delusional, indoctrinated, brainwashed, and that homophobes routinely say that homosexuals are mentally ill, delusional, indoctrinated, brainwashed.

                    You could notice that both atheism and homophobia rely on denouncing the personal experiences of real human beings on the grounds that they, the atheist or homophobe, don’t have those experiences.

                    Instead you seem to rely on sarcasm.

                    • Mark

                      I think it’s unfair of you to call someone shallow, just because he’s been succinct. GR told you his beliefs have led him to the worldview that God does not exist, which makes him an atheist, and you’ve faulted him for not being verbose.

                      And, I still find myself in the camp that claims your “knowledge” is actually faith. Faith is the belief in something unseen. The faithful are not called “knowing,” they’re called “believers.” As opposed to the unbelievers, When something can neither be proved nor disproved, it becomes belief.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “I think it’s unfair of you to call someone shallow,”

                      Where did I say that? Please quote the exact sentence where I said to someone ‘you are shallow’.

                      ” just because he’s been succinct.”

                      Where did I criticize someone for being succinct?

                      “And, I still find myself in the camp that claims your “knowledge” is actually faith.”

                      How arrogant of you to claim that my experience is not real. I bet, though, that you don’t see how utterly unfair and degrading that is.

                      ” Faith is the belief in something unseen.”

                      That is one kind of faith. But again, it is a simplistic understanding of what people of faith experience. My faith is not in the existence of God, I know God exists. My faith is in God’s nature, character. Just as my faith in my husband, my friends, my coworkers, people I see with my eyes, is in their character, and not a matter of whether or not they exist.

                      “When something can neither be proved nor disproved, it becomes belief.”

                      Of course, that claim can neither be proved nor disproved.

                    • Mark

                      Sorry. G Ragnarock, last month, a couple of posts up in this thread. You told him, “Your experience of atheism is particularly shallow.”

                      I’ve considered your claim of my arrogance, and I won’t back off of my “belief” that no one knows with certainty whether God exists. My worldview is that the existence of God is impossible to prove or disprove, and that there are those who believe and those who don’t. And on that, we will have to agree to disagree. I try not to be rude, but if that makes me arrogant in your eyes, I’ll have to live with that.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “Sorry. G Ragnarock, last month, a couple of posts up in this thread. You
                      told him, “Your experience of atheism is particularly shallow.””

                      So, I did NOT call anyone shallow. I said that someone’s experience of something is shallow.

                      “I’ve considered your claim of my arrogance, and I won’t back off of my
                      “belief” that no one knows with certainty whether God exists.”

                      No surprise. Ego gets in the way of acknowledging that people can experience things you have not.

                      “I try not to be rude,”

                      Perhaps there is a huge area for improvement in that area then. Because it is very rude for you to define for others the validity of their own experiences, simply because you haven’t had those experiences.

        • Benjamin Martin

          > Knowledge is based on experience

          Shroomheads would concur, especially in light of John Allegro’s The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that argues Jesus in the Gospels was in fact a code for a type of hallucinogen.

          • WilmRoget

            Any honest person would concur that knowledge is based on experience. Your insinuation that religious experience is the derived from hallucinogens is spurious at best, considering the vast majority who have had experiences of the Divine without such assistance.

            But no doubt it made you feel good to mock us.

            • Benjamin Martin

              > Any honest person

              Not you, right, Mr. Snarkalicious?

              > Your insinuation

              Definitely not an insinuation. Allegro was a highly qualified Dead Seas Scrolls scholar, chosen because of his high intellect.

              > feel good to mock

              Psychologically projecting much?

              • WilmRoget

                “Not you, right, Mr. Snarkalicious?”

                Your use of petty name-calling simply indicates that you cannot provide a cogent, reasoned based rebuttal.

                ” Allegro was a highly qualified Dead Seas Scrolls scholar,”

                And other scholars reject his conclusion. If only there were some way to validate the insinuation that you, not he made – oh wait – most people who experience the Divine did so without using hallucinogens, and many people who use hallucinogens do not experience the Divine. There is no indicate of causation, and only mild, circumstantial correlation.

                “Psychologically projecting much?”

                There’s a question you should ask yourself.

                • Benjamin Martin

                  > Your use of petty name-calling

                  If you want to toss-off petty snark, expect it back. ok?

                  Of course, other scholars rejected his conclusions, they’d be out of a job if they had accepted them.

                  > experience the Divine did so without using hallucinogens

                  Of course. Meditation/Prayer/Yoga are often used to get to that ecstatic experience. Been there myself, no drugs needed.

                  > …no indicate of causation, and only mild, circumstantial correlation.

                  Obviously, you haven’t read the research.

                  • WilmRoget

                    “If you want to toss-off petty snark, expect it back. ok?”

                    Since I have not, your behavior is inexcusable.

                    “they’d be out of a job if they had accepted them.”

                    You are making very serious allegations, so you need, desperately, to back it up with concrete evidence.

                    ” Been there myself, no drugs needed.”

                    So you admit that your entire line of noise here is dishonest, an attempt to denigrate people for the sake of your ego-aggrandizement.

                    “Obviously, you haven’t read the research.”

                    You clearly make up stuff out of thin air and malice.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      > very serious allegations

                      Read Allegro’s account.

                    • WilmRoget

                      From your own link:

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cross

                      The book has been described as “notorious” and as “one of the strangest books ever published on the subject of religion and pharmacology”.[4] There was a media frenzy
                      when it was published at the dawn of the 1970s. This caused the publisher to apologize for issuing it and forced Allegro’s resignation from his university position.[1][5] Judith Anne Brown suggested that the book was “difficult
                      to read and difficult to summarize, because he follows clues that criss-cross different cultures and lead into many-layered webs of association.”[5] Mark Hall writes that Allegro suggested the scrolls all but proved that an historical Jesus never existed.[6] Philip Jenkins writes that Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them, and
                      calls the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross “possibly the single most ludicrous book on Jesus scholarship by a qualified academic.”[7]

                      He was forced to resign, and ‘relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing’.

                      And just to make it clear: ” As Time magazine put it in an article headed “Jesus as mushroom”,
                      To some biblical scholars in Britain, the new book looked like the psychedelic ravings of a hippie cultist. To others, it was merely an outlandish hoax. One described it as reading “like a Semitic philologist’s erotic nightmare.”[3]”

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Are you surprised of pushback from the most profitable industry in the world?

                    • WilmRoget

                      Your own source discredits the material you presented.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      I’m sure you’ll take the clergy’s efforts to discredit Allegro without ever bothering to study anything yourself.

                    • WilmRoget

                      Your dismissal of the rebuttal only indicates that your use of the citation was dishonest.

                      And of course, you cannot bother to address the criticism made by your own source against Allegro.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      I’m well aware of the vast controversy his work caused. I’ve also read his work. You’re completely unfamiliar with his work, then step in, copy and paste somebody else’s work, and call that a “rebuttal?” Please.

                    • WilmRoget

                      So you were well aware that you’re were using a discredited source.

                      “copy and paste somebody else’s work, and call that a “rebuttal?””

                      I copied and pasted from your own citation. Now you are claiming that citation is not accurate?

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      You’re trying to simultaneously hold that wiki is a “discredited source,” and that copy’n’pasting other peoples’ words from wiki makes a rebuttal. Please reply, your tilt-a-whirl antics are the most entertaining I’ve ever encountered.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “You’re trying to simultaneously hold that wiki is a “discredited source,”

                      No, I’m not. I am saying that your own source points out that Allegro has been discredited.

                      “Please reply, your tilt-a-whirl antics are the most entertaining I’ve ever encountered.”

                      Yet the failure here is entirely yours. Are you genuinely confused, genuinely incompetent, or desperately deceitful?

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Pointing you to wiki is not a “source.” I doubt you could pull that off even in High School, much less college. It’s just a summary where you can start doing your own research. Read the book if you’re going to make any rebuttals to the material in the book, or keep proving just how genuinely confused, genuinely incompetent, or desperately deceitful you are.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “Pointing you to wiki is not a “source.””

                      Of course it is.

                      ” It’s just a summary where you can start doing your own research.”

                      And the summary you pointed me to states that Allegro was thoroughly disgraced.

                      ‘keep proving just how genuinely confused, genuinely incompetent, or desperately deceitful you are.”

                      Your reliance on insults only shows that Allegro has no valid argument to present – because if he did – you’d be quoting it.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      I notice you didn’t address my exhortation for you to read at least some of the book of you’re going to claim to have made a rebuttal, instead of cut-n-pasting from wiki. Gitterdunn.

                    • WilmRoget

                      I notice that you haven’t bought me a copy, nor you have provided a link to where it is presented online, nor have you even quoted from it.

                      I have noticed that the very citation you used, the link you posted, states that Allegro was thoroughly and shamefully discredited.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      I’ve made no claims about the book, save a short summary of its content. You, however, have ventured off into a vociferous tirade of denunciation based on….Wiki CopyPasta. Mmmm, tasty.

                    • WilmRoget

                      Your falsehoods don’t help you. You made a claim, using wikipedia as your citation, and that entry indicates that your ‘expert’ is basically a fraud.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      The only “claim” I have made is as follows, from above:

                      “…John Allegro’s The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that argues Jesus in the Gospels was in fact a code for a type of hallucinogen.”

                      Do you disagree with that summary of the contents of Allegro’s book?

                    • WilmRoget

                      Actually, I disagree that the aforementioned is the only use you’ve made of his fraudulent work.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Ah, you’re doing your terrible two’s temper tantrum act again:

                      I disagree! Because me! Q.E.D!

                      LOL When you come up with the slightest bit of evidence to back up your disagreement, let us know, ok?

                    • WilmRoget

                      I love how the following quote addresses your basic behavior – reviling and dismissing people whose position you cannot refute. Guess who wrote it?

                      “Troll” has become sort of a “Abracadabra-be-gone!” catchall phrase for
                      writings that people simply don’t want to deal with.” Benjamin Martin

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      My only claim is a short summary of the book:

                      “…John Allegro’s The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that argues Jesus in the Gospels was in fact a code for a type of hallucinogen.”

                      In what way do you determine that summary of the contents is false?

                    • WilmRoget

                      “Troll” has become sort of a “Abracadabra-be-gone!” catchall phrase for
                      writings that people simply don’t want to deal with.” Benjamin Martin

                      I love how your own words describe your predominant behavior.

                    • Mark

                      Me again. (This is in reference to your lengthy back-and-forth with “Guest,” about John Allegro’s book “The Sacred Mushroom…”)

                      At least twice you claimed that the Wikipedia article on the book was completely negative with respect to Allegro’s position – “Your own source discredits the material you presented,” “Allegro was thoroughly disgraced.” That is not the case. The “Reconsideration” section states “Recent studies of Allegro’s work have given new supporting linguistic evidence and led to calls for his theories to be re-evaluated by the mainstream,” and lists in footnotes (8 and 9 cited) two scholars presumably supporting that statement. On the surface, this does seem like a pretty far out (pun intended) claim, but certainly no moreso than the claim of virgin birth, et al in the Bible.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “At least twice you claimed”

                      You’ve made one false assertion about my own posts at me today.

                      “That is not the case.”

                      Actually, it is the case. By the way, bringing up that long-dead conversation, without providing a link, is a bit despicable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cross

                      “His claims have often been subject to ridicule and scorn due to Allegro’s unconventional theory. As Time magazine put it in an article headed “Jesus as mushroom”,

                      To some biblical scholars in Britain, the new book looked like the psychedelic ravings of a hippie cultist. To others, it was merely an outlandish hoax. One described it as reading “like a Semitic philologist’s erotic nightmare.”[3]

                      “The book has been described as “notorious” and as “one of the strangest books ever published on the subject of religion and pharmacology”.[4] There was a media frenzy
                      when it was published at the dawn of the 1970s. This caused the
                      publisher to apologize for issuing it and forced Allegro’s resignation
                      from his university position.[1][5] Judith Anne Brown suggested that the book was “difficult
                      to read and difficult to summarize, because he follows clues that
                      criss-cross different cultures and lead into many-layered webs of
                      association.”[5] Mark Hall writes that Allegro suggested the scrolls all but proved that an historical Jesus never existed.[6]
                      Philip Jenkins writes that Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied
                      on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them, and
                      calls the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross “possibly the single most ludicrous book on Jesus scholarship by a qualified academic.”[7]”

                      The fact that some people have accepted it does not refute the criticism of the work.

                      You seem to be on a bit of a mission to be rude.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “That is not the case.”

                      Sure it is. I even quoted the relevant portions.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cross

                      “Allegro argued that Jesus never existed and was a mythological creation of early Christians under the influence of psychoactive mushroom extracts such as psilocybin.[1]

                      His claims have often been subject to ridicule and scorn due to Allegro’s unconventional theory. As Time magazine put it in an article headed “Jesus as mushroom”,

                      To some biblical scholars in Britain, the new book looked like the psychedelic ravings of a hippie cultist. To others, it was merely an outlandish hoax. One described it as reading “like a Semitic philologist’s erotic nightmare.”[3]

                      The book has been described as “notorious” and as “one of the strangest books ever published on the subject of religion and pharmacology”.[4] There was a media frenzy
                      when it was published at the dawn of the 1970s. This caused the publisher to apologize for issuing it and forced Allegro’s resignation from his university position.[1][5] Judith Anne Brown suggested that the book was “difficult
                      to read and difficult to summarize, because he follows clues that criss-cross different cultures and lead into many-layered webs of association.”[5] Mark Hall writes that Allegro suggested the scrolls all but proved that an historical Jesus never existed.[6] Philip Jenkins writes that Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them, and
                      calls the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross “possibly the single most ludicrous book on Jesus scholarship by a qualified academic.”[7]”

                      You seem to be on a mission to be rude today.

                      “Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them,”

                      It bears repeating.

    • Daniel Mann

      Well said! I agree! Here is my own response to DeRose and Jones:

      http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-progressives-and-emergents-embrace.html

    • Benjamin Martin

      > It is arrogant egotism to essentially tell me that I have not experienced what I have experienced.

      It’s all in your head. And we know the exact region.

      …spiritual experiences can be generated by actively changing brain activity…a new study by Brick Johnstone and Bret Glass at the University of Missouri-Columbia has found that people with evidence of brain damage to their right parietal lobes score higher on a standard measure of spirituality.

      Brick Johnstone, Bret A Glass (2008). Support for a neuropsychological model of spirituality in persons with traumatic brain injury Zygon, 43 (4), 861-874
      epiphenom.fieldofscience.com/2008/12/spirituality-linked-to-brain-damage.html

      • WilmRoget

        “It’s all in your head.”

        Actually, all of human experience is ‘all in your head’. We know the region where the brain processes sight – and the process your citation describes can simulate rudimentary visual experiences. We know the region of the brain that processes sound, touch, and other sensory data –

        With the proper technology, we can simulate many kinds of experiences, but rational and honest people recognize that just be an experience can be simulated using technology, does not mean that said experiences do not exist without such technology.

        But no doubt, it made you feel good to trivialize people’s experiences like that. Keep in mind though that the rush you got from being degrading was all in your head.

        • Benjamin Martin

          Such scientific research is enlightening, not degrading. Unless you’re an anti-intellectual.

          • WilmRoget

            Your dishonesty does not help you.

            I did not indicate that scientific work is degrading, I indicated that your use of it was. Clearly, you are anti-honest and well as overtly biased against people of faith.

            Additionally, you are clearly unable to address the material I presented, specifically, the flaw in your premise:

            With the proper technology, we can simulate many kinds of experiences, but rational and honest people recognize that just be an experience can be simulated using technology, does not mean that said experiences do not exist without such technology.

            But hey, for you, this is all about insulting people to make yourself feel good, isn’t it?

            • Benjamin Martin

              All you can do, days on end, is toss off third grade insults. The Divine? You’re so far from it, it isn’t funny. Clearly.

              • WilmRoget

                Ironically enough, the insults are all from you.

                • Benjamin Martin

                  Mote/Beam.

                  • WilmRoget

                    That is advice you ought to live before you give it away.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Ya think? LOL You da boss.

  • davehuth

    Thanks for calling attention to Keith’s interesting set of ideas. I’ve been talking with people about this for several days, and they’ve been illuminating, helpful conversations. They’ve been helpful to me in clarifying a couple of stances people are taking in response. Many are approaching with the the open, inquiring, generously curious attitude you describe in your poker buddies. Others are responding with a belligerent defensiveness – they seem to be incapable of even a clear reading of Keith’s words. For so many, the mere suggestion that their own conclusions may not place them in a position of judgment over others on this topic is an unendurable proposition. I guess the defensive refusers might even be right in some ultimately factual sense. But I have no desire to join their projects. I’m talking about atheists and theists alike.

  • I get why non-theists are still interested in, and like to dabble in, theology. It’s for the same reason I read the Left Behind books: “What are these loonies up to?”

    But I agree with WilmRoget: Not all of us are agnostics. Some of us do know God exists, in the very same way St. Paul did: Christ appeared to us, and we do miracles in his name. People can doubt it, and with all the fakes around they have good reason to doubt any of it is real. But the solution isn’t to hide in an anti-charismatic enclave and, after intense discussions with like-minded people, proclaim everybody naturally thinks like this. It’s no different than the FoxNews echo chamber.

  • Daniel Mann

    This position is logically incoherent. My response DeRose:

    http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2014/09/why-progressives-and-emergents-embrace.html

  • Dorfl

    The short response is that you’re using a definition of what it means to ‘know’ something that isn’t really useful for anything much other than saying “You can’t know that (insert speaker’s favourite belief here) isn’t true!”.

  • Keith DeRose: “My suggestion is that neither theists nor atheists know whether God exists. And here I don’t just mean that they don’t know for certain, but that they don’t know at all.”

    This obfuscates the real issue, which is that the debate about God’s existence is about probabilities more than anything else. No atheist I’ve encountered this year claims to know there is no god. The Christian retort that atheists can’t know there isn’t a god is met by atheists with a yawn. Of course they don’t know. No one is claiming to know. The point, from the atheist side, is to say that the null hypothesis is that there isn’t a god. I had a commenter on my blog the other day make a fairly good argument that the null hypothesis is to be agnostic, but I didn’t feel he really made his case. I should dig that conversation out and write a full post about it. As to whether we’re all agnostic I’d say,

    1. At one level it’s a tempting position but ultimately empty. The evidence is plainly that there are people who claim to know that there is a god. Ergo, they are not agnostic.

    2. Claiming that everyone is agnostic suggests that it is equiprobable that a god or gods exist as that they don’t exist. Some people might feel that is true, but is certainly not true that everyone feels God’s existence or non-existence is equiprobable.

    • WilmRoget

      “No atheist I’ve encountered this year claims to know there is no god.”

      I’ve encountered quite a few just this year, and encounter many every year. So it seems like you are encountering atheists who chose their words more carefully than the ones I encounter.

      • Atheists who claim to know for a fact that there is no God and have evidence? Would they be willing to talk to me about that?

        • WilmRoget

          Why did you add the phrase “and have evidence”?

          Doesn’t matter – I’ve yet to find one that was actually willing to talk anyways. Mostly they only seem to want to tell people of faith how wrong and bad we are.

          • Because that’s the way you know things for a fact.

            So I will continue to operate on the assumption that these horrible atheists who know for a fact there is no god exist only in the imagination of Christians. Even Dawkins is not such a one.

            • WilmRoget

              So reality is contingent on your analyses of it.

              • Benjamin Martin

                Were you ever an “Objectivist” in some former incarnation?

                • WilmRoget

                  Your incompetence is not helping you.

                  • Benjamin Martin

                    Yep, strident “Objectivist” personality. Pretty much like any Fundie.

          • Benjamin Martin

            Telling people how wrong and bad they are. Like this?

            WilmRoget: “you’re were using a discredited source.”
            WilmRoget: “Your dishonesty”
            WilmRoget: “you cannot bother to address”
            WilmRoget: “Your insinuation”

            Like a Turing Machine set to insult mode.

            • WilmRoget

              Your dishonesty and incompetence doesn’t help you.

              • Benjamin Martin

                Is your dishonesty and incompetence helping you?

                • WilmRoget

                  Since, unlike you, I have not demonstrated either, your empty reply accomplishes nothing.

                  Face it, you have no argument, just a desperate need to denigrate others to make yourself feel good.

                  • Benjamin Martin

                    The guy who cuts-n-pastes from wikipedia dares say “you have no argument.” LOL

                    As far as my claim above:

                    “…John Allegro’s The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that argues Jesus in the Gospels was in fact a code for a type of hallucinogen.”

                    Do you think Allegro’s book doesn’t argue that?

                    Oh, you haven’t even cracked it open. But you feign to know all about it.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “The guy who cuts-n-pastes from wikipedia dares say “you have no argument.” LOL”

                      I quoted your own citation.

                      ‘ But you feign to know all about it.”

                      Nice lie. I have pointed out, however, that the very link you provided, tells us that John Allegro was thoroughly discredited.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      You’re a wiki true believer, it probably shows exactly how much thought you put into other areas of your life.

                      “Wiki said it, and I believe it, and that settles it for me.” 😉

                    • WilmRoget

                      Oddly enough, you are the one who cited from wikipedia initially to make your baseless claim about Christianity. And then you made the mistake of citing an entry that states that your expert, John Allegro, was essentially a fraud.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      I’ve made no claims other than a short summary of Allegro’s book, as follows:

                      “…John Allegro’s The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross that argues Jesus in the Gospels was in fact a code for a type of hallucinogen.”

                      Can you tell me exactly how that short summary of the contents of the book is false?

  • Warren

    This sort of argument annoys me because it mischaracterizes atheists’ rejection of theism as some sort of statement of faith. Rational atheists don’t reject the concept of god because they are 100% certain that no gods exist; rather, they reject the concept of god because theism is scientifically unfalsifiable, and therefore useless as a means of finding truth.

    Essentially, a hypothesis is only useful if you can stake its truth on a specific prediction that could conceivably be wrong. Atheism, for instance, is falsifiable, because it could potentially be refuted (if someone actually managed to produce a deity, all rational atheists would be forced to admit their error). Theism, on the other hand, refuses all such tests. If an atheist argues that a given concept of a deity is incompatible with reality (eg The Problem of Evil), theists will simply modify their god’s character or declare their god to be “mysterious” and beyond comprehension. If an atheist claims that materialistic science explains things perfectly well without assuming a deity, theists will just push their god further into the gaps, or make their god more subtle, or declare that their god used to be active but has since withdrawn.

    In short, when Keith claims that “neither theists nor atheists know whether God exists,” he’s technically correct, but conflating two very different kinds of not-knowing. Atheism cannot be disproven because there is no evidence that refutes it. Theism cannot be disproven because there is no evidence that could refute it.

    • WilmRoget

      “they reject the concept of god because theism is scientifically
      unfalsifiable, and therefore useless as a means of finding truth.”

      Atheism is also scientifically unfalsifiable, so such a reason is inherently fraudulent.

      “In short, when Keith claims that “neither theists nor atheists know whether God exists,” he’s technically correct,”

      No, he is not. He is arguing the same prejudice that is at the heart of both prejudice and atheism: “people of faith are intrinsically wrong about their experiences because we say so”.

      • Warren

        Did you read my entire post? Atheism is falsifiable. Demonstrate the existence of god, and you’ve debunked atheism. That’s the fundamental difference. The theist says “You can’t prove god doesn’t exist”; the atheist says “You could prove god existed if he did, but you haven’t.”

        • WilmRoget

          “Did you read my entire post?”

          Yes, I did.

          “Atheism is falsifiable”

          Not scientifically. Since the Divine transcends the limited scope of science, neither atheism or theism is scientifically falsifiable. Among the many problems with atheism is the inherent fraud – it rejects theism as ‘scientifically unfalsifiable’, but atheism is as well.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            I’d contest how ‘atheism’ and ‘theism’ are being used. Neither is a definitive statement of a deity’s(ies’ existence, just whether one lacks or has beliefs. Evidence does not come into the equation for much more than whether that causes one to reinterpret or change their views.

            Rather, a statement such as “There is no god(s)” (assuming we just mean super-powerful creative entity connected to our origin/functioning of the universe and not necessarily something worshiped as a “god(s)”) is a falsifiable statement because all that needs to happen to prove it false is for a god(s) to be existent beyond all reasonable doubts. A statement that there is a god(s) is unfalsifiable as we could never be sure if we were just missing him around the proverbial next corner.

            • WilmRoget

              “Neither is a definitive statement of a deity’s(ies’ existence, just whether one lacks or has beliefs.”

              Not true.

              • Benjamin Martin

                “Not true.” Still in your terrible two’s?

                • WilmRoget

                  Every insult you rely on reflects poorly on you.

                  • Benjamin Martin

                    Not true. Q.E.D. LOL

              • Giauz Ragnarock

                You can say, “Not true”, but I do not have a context of what you mean. I tried to give you my context for the words (“I am a person who has beliefs in god(s). I am a person who lacks beliefs in god(s).” == “I am a theist. I am an atheist.”). What are you trying to tell me, whose head you cannot see inside anymore than I can see yours?

                • WilmRoget

                  “but I do not have a context of what you mean.”

                  The English language. But you have no defense for your assertion.

  • Keith DeRose

    More relevant than the NYT interview to some of what people seem to be talking about here would be the underlying blog post from a bit more than a year ago:
    http://prosblogion.ektopos.com/2013/07/12/gods_existence/
    It’s there that I try to explain why those who claim to know that God exists on the basis of religious experience appear not to know. Some may be fine with appearing not to know, but those who would like to explain to an outsider how it is that they might know (despite appearances) might find some guidance there on what kind of explanation would be helpful, at least insofar as I’m right about what lies behind the suspicion that this is just a delusion of knowledge.

    • WilmRoget

      (from your blog of a year ago)
      “I know many people who claim to know whether God exists. In each case
      (individually), I suspect they’re wrong about their having such
      knowledge. In fact, I suspect that they are all wrong.”

      How very arrogant of you. Of course, you realize, your suspicion parallels that of many homophobes, they just know that homosexuals are wrong about our knowledge that our sexual orientation is innate, not chosen.

      “So I suspect that delusions of knowledge about this matter run rampant among folks I know.”

      Yeah, that is how homophobes characterize the testimony of GLBTQ people. According to them, we cannot know the truth about our own experiences, but they can. And according to you, people like me who have experienced the Divine, well, we cannot know the truth of our experiences, but you can. How conceited.

      “In short: ordinarily low/moderate standards, that we very often meet concerning other matters.”

      Actually, that is not the standard you are using. You are actually using a very limited standard – one that argues that we only ‘know’ that which can be empirically confirmed, that which is based on something tangible.

      ” I would likely also suspect you to be under a delusion of knowledge about this matter.”

      That is hostile. It is also egotistical and presumptuous and degrading. Basically, you’ve decided that your analytical skills trump the personal integrity and the intelligence of the enormous number of people who have experienced the Divine. You are asserting that your reasoning is more credible than their ability to understand their own experiences.

      And further on, you basically argue that because your own experiences have been so limited, those of others must be equally limited as well.

      So here is the problem, your entire argument relies on your analytical abilities, and nothing more. For all anyone can tell, or should conclude, your entire premise may be nothing more than a ‘delusion of knowledge’ itself. Your position is a construct, an interpretation of your experiences that you then use to impose a very limiting conclusions about everyone else’s experiences.

      But hey, you got to call millions of people deluded, so that counts for something, right?

  • Keith DeRose

    Oh, just as a clarification. i don’t say that we’re all agnostics. I mean, I did write a (public) facebook note once saying that a simple definition of “agnostic” would count anyone who doesn’t know, and in that case my suspicion is that we’re all agnostics:
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/keith-derose/am-i-an-agnostic-were-all-agnostics/10150294731924991
    But I do there say that this isn’t a very good understanding of “agnostic”.

    I’ve played around with several better accounts, but what comes to the surface in the interview are two. On one, an “agnostic” is one who doesn’t take herself to know. It’s on this reading that my position is that folks generally *should* be “agnostics” about God’s existence — but that’s based on my suspicions concerning a lack of knowledge on the issue. (My suspicion [explained in the old “Delusions of Knowledge” post] amounts to the thought that those who are not “agnostics” in *this* sense are deluded.) But at the end, I put forward a more demanding, and perhaps more interesting, account, on which an agnostic is one who does not take a position on the issue, and I explain why I think it can be perfectly rational, even for someone who realizes they don’t know, not to be an “agnostic” in *this* sense.

  • Keith DeRose

    Finally (well, at least for now), it’s perhaps worth pointing out that I don’t think it’s just in religion that there are such “delusions of knowledge,” but rather that they tend to arise quite generally in “knowledge deserts” (like philosophy, to take the desert I’m most interested in). After all, as I say in the interview, though it’s also much more than this, the existence of God is a controversial philosophical issue. There are some special features of the religious cases (some of which come up briefly in the interview), but there are also ways that the situation is quite similar to what happens in contexts of philosophical discussion. For those who might be interested, though this is just a draft as of now, I go into some of the forces (having mainly to do with how we’re encouraged to make unqualified assertions in such settings) I think give rise to “delusions of knowledge” in various “knowledge deserts” here (pdf doc.):

    http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kd47/Knowledge%20Deserts%20Appendix-7-26.pdf

    • Dear Keith, I find it really great to see you taking the time to comment on a blog 🙂

      Being myself an agnostic progressive Christian, I’d be truly delighted to interview you.

      Friendly greetings.

  • Keith DeRose

    (Oh, I should explain: In the pdf I just linked to, “KAA” stands for the knowledge account of assertion, on which you should flat-out assert only what you know.)

    • jeffstraka

      No, you didn’t.

      • Hi Jeff.

        Fine.

        Could you explain me why?

        • jeffstraka

          First of all, you claim that atheists KNOW God does not exist. Sorry, that’s not the case for at least 85% of atheists who are true skeptics (14.8% of atheists who claim to be anti-theists might make that absolute claim against existence). We claim that we simply lack the SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE for the common definitions of God (which are VAST, by the way). If SUFFICIENT empirical evidence were provided, we would have no choice but to change our minds and become theists (but theists of this one particular theo). So, no one is suggesting “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” – that’s not how science works – but rather we are saying “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” (Carl Sagan)

          As a point of reference, I became an atheist a couple of years ago via the emergent/progressive deconstruction route. The more research I continued to do (I kept going down the rabbit-hole) simply continued to unravel the “evidence” I thought I had.

          The FSM is simply demonstrating the problem of making claims without sufficient evidence – it is a parody. It originated as opposition to the Kansas School Board when they were pushing for ID to be taught in the science class. If you read it, you will see it simply makes clear that sufficient evidence is the issue. Evolution HAS that sufficient scientific evidence (and can make testable/falsifiable predictions) and ID does not. http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

          • WilmRoget

            “Sorry, that’s not the case for at least 85% of atheists who are true skeptics”

            Do you have a credible source for that data?

            “So, no one is suggesting “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” -”

            Wrong. I’ve seen atheists make that argument day in and day out across the internet for years.

            • jeffstraka

              It’s based on a survey that shows that only 14.8% of atheists are anti-theists (see http://www.atheismresearch.com/ ). I’ve seen other surveys using the “Dawkins Scale” and the “Strong Atheist” number falls pretty much in line – those who claim to be 100% sure that there IS not god is a small percentage (even Dawkins is not 100% sure). And I’ve attended a good many atheist conferences and it’s been the consensus of the speakers and attendees that they are scientific/skeptic in their approach and would change their mind if provided sufficient evidence. Did you see the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate? Nye admitted he would change his mind if presented sufficient evidence. That is a scientific/skeptic position. http://youtu.be/6j8Babr_n4w

              It is not the “absence of evidence” (I know of NO scientist who would make a hypothesis with ZERO evidence) but the absence of SUFFICIENT evidence. If you see atheists on the internet using zero evidence for their claim, that certainly is not a skeptic/scientific position.

              So tell me, WilmRoget – can YOU provide some empirical evidence for this immeasurable God? (But first, how do YOU define “God”?)

              • WilmRoget

                “It’s based on a survey that shows that only 14.8% of atheists are anti-theists”

                So you claim is an interpretation of a statistic about a dubious to false distinction.

                So basically, your claim isn’t real.

                • jeffstraka

                  Look, WilmRoget, my it is my PERSONAL EXPERIENCE that this percentage plays out! I am the organizer of an atheist/skeptic meet-up group with 75 participants) that VERY FEW are “strong atheists”. The VAST MAJORITY are of a skeptic/scientific framework and are OPEN to sufficient evidence!

                  So, again. What IS your evidence? Convince me!

                  • WilmRoget

                    It is my personal experience that God exists. So, if you want me to believe you about atheists, guess what?

                    You have to accept my testimony, from my personal experience, that God exists.

                    • jeffstraka

                      I don’t have to accept that God exists, only that God exists for you. 🙂

                    • WilmRoget

                      Of course, that means that your “VAST MAJORITY are of a skeptic/scientific framework” exist only for you.

                      🙂 🙂

                    • jeffstraka

                      Well, no. You can actually come to my meet-up group or to an atheist convention and survey people. They exist outside of my head. 🙂 🙂 🙂

                    • WilmRoget

                      “You can actually come to my meet-up group or to an atheist convention and survey people. ”

                      And if you make the necessary effort you can experience the Divine.

                      “They exist outside of my head.”

                      Prove it. Heck, you cannot even prove here that you exist as you have presented yourself.

                      Sorry, but your “vast majority” only exists for you.

                      🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

                    • jeffstraka

                      What color is the sky in your world? 😉

                    • WilmRoget

                      Thanks for demonstrating the intrinsic malice that is fundamental to atheism.

                    • jeffstraka

                      Glad I could help you feel superior and righteous.

                    • WilmRoget

                      Every insult you post simply affirms my point.

                    • jeffstraka

                      Wonderful. I just want to reinforce your narrow stereotype. My work is done. 🙂

                    • WilmRoget

                      “My work is done. :)”

                      Then you won’t post again. And in your absence, I’ll point out that while homophobes only vilify about 10% of humanity, atheists vilify >90% of humanity. And they engage it that abusive behavior for the same reason that homophobes vilify homosexuals – to tell themselves that they are superior, because actually doing anything superior is too hard. It is just easier to trash talk millions of people.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      WilmRoget, you are the perfect illustration of Poe’s Law, i.e., it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNA7DcVppEs

                    • WilmRoget

                      Since there is nothing extreme in my posts, your abusive accomplishes nothing, except to show that you have an extreme need to denigrate other people for the sake of your ego.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Do it again for me. Nobody does it better.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      One good Poe deserves another. Hit me!

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Do you accept personal experience of UFO abductions as valid?

                    • WilmRoget

                      Have you had such an experience? Actually, never mind. You’ve destroyed your credibility.

                      I don’t know anyone who has stated they were abducted by UFO’s. If and when I do, I’ll accept or reject their testimony based on their personal credibility.

                      Should I accept the personal experiences of ‘ex-gays’, people who claim to have changed from gay to straight?

                      Or should I acknowledge that every one of them that I’ve discussed this with has admitted to still having same-sex sexual desires, as has the vast majority of those who testify in public?

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Nice try backpedaling. Didn’t work. Now what are you going to do with your destroyed credibility?

                    • WilmRoget

                      There was no backpedaling at all. Your falsehood only reflects your character, not mine.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      Do you ever venture past this second-grade level of “I know you are but what am I” schtick?

                    • WilmRoget

                      There’s a question you should ask your self – or at least, back up your accusation against me with evidence. But then, that is something you seem unable or unwilling to do.

                      You made a false comparison, I pointed out how your comparison is false in a way that any educated adult would understand, and it apparently went over your head. That hurt your ego, so you’ve returned to your dismissive defense mechanism.

                      That’s the nature of dialogue – you post something, I reply. I may provide a long, detailed reply – though those have been completely wasted on you, or I may provide a short reply.

                      If you want a substantive discussion, you have to make a real effort, for once. But admit it, you are only here to convince yourself that you are clever by sniping at people.

                    • Benjamin Martin

                      I made a comparison that deflates your silly position. You don’t like it much, and your ego is hurt.

                      Keep telling us more about how you feel. It’s ok if you psychologically project your feelings onto me. I want to learn more about you.

                    • WilmRoget

                      “I made a comparison that deflates your silly position.”

                      No, and my position is not silly, as I demonstrated with the issue of believing ex-gays. And because you cannot address that, you dismiss what my position as ‘silly’.

                      ” I want to learn more about you.”

                      No, you don’t. There is no reason to believe you, since, you don’t believe people of faith.

                    • WilmRoget

                      I love how the following quote addresses your basic behavior here:

                      “Troll” has become sort of a “Abracadabra-be-gone!” catchall phrase for writings that people simply don’t want to deal with.” Benjamin Martin

          • Sorry if I’m not answering now. I’m currently in a hurry.

  • S_i_m_o_n

    God is logically necessary, ergo God exists. As to the nature of God, well that is up for debate.

    • Benjamin Martin

      FSM is logically necessary, ergo FSM exists.

      Shazam!

      • S_i_m_o_n

        I query your definition of ‘necessary’.

        • Benjamin Martin

          Same as yours. 🙂

  • LoneWolf343

    So, in short, everybody is an agnostic, but far too many people are also agnostic about their agnosticism.

  • jeffstraka

    “To ask whether or not God exists is a nonsensical question UNTIL you define the word God. But if the word is undefinable, you cannot ask the question.” ~Lloyd Geering

  • Dred37

    I keep being amazed at how people confuse God and the church and by extension God and religion. The church and religion generally are very human creations. That they are often short sighted and sinful should not come as a shock. They are created in our image. Likewise there is no reason to reject any aspect of the divine because we and our institutions are less than perfect. God and our relationship to or with God are of a whole different order.

  • MIke

    Hey Tony, I’d love to hear your take on the Holy Spirit and a little Pneumatology. A little unrelated but not completely. Do you believe in the metaphysical? I know you’ve shared about a conversation with somebody in Asia who was “in the ministry” because of a “supernatural” experience he had. Not sure if you remember. Is this at all relevant to this discussion? Not necessarily as a “stand alone” proof, but as one of many “signs” that there is a God? I understand we can’t “claim” to know if there is or isn’t. Just wondering.

  • Gary Calderone

    The only people who can truly claim to know for sure about God, are those who have had Near Death Experiences and actually encountered Him/Her/It like Dr. Eben Alexander.

    • WilmRoget

      There are other ways to experience the Divine.