Jenna Black is a hopeful Christian apologist to be, or so she has stated at least both on Tom Gilson's and on Rick Henderson's blogs, both in comments on posts about me. She has written a long review, and I hope you have a look at it. I'll only quote a bit from the middle, which I do not think misrepresents her:
Attempts to "model" God based on the sacred scriptures of the Abrahamic religions, which are monotheism, are problematic, and Lindsay's is no exception. First of all, Lindsay confuses "claims" about God's character or nature to be claims, whose sum total, can be used to reject the "claim" that God exists. On p. 111, Lindsay states that his purpose is to provide an "understanding of what it means for a concept to have probability zero." I think that this very telling statement is not just a rhetorical slip of the tongue or merely imprecise language. It hits at the core of Lindsay's argument. Concepts are organizing ideas, mental constructions. Above all, concepts are language, linguistic frameworks for understanding, describing and explaining concrete or abstract realities. Definitions are attempts to summarize and establish the boundaries of a concept in a few words. The more abstract and complex a reality, the more language is needed to frame and communicate about its related concepts. This is where Lindsay's claim that we can determine the probably that a concept exists is gibberish.The beginning of this I don't find surprising. As I think about these ideas more and more, I feel as though we have two positions vying for primacy. Those who believe in God seem to be accepting the premise that "God exists" as a presupposition (though I prefer the term axiom for reasons I've elaborated upon several times now); those who do not, well, do not.
As such, from within theism, it is not possible to see God as a hypothesis, particularly one that can be tested. From outside of theism, it could be treated either way, merely as an axiomatic construction or as a hypothesis. The moment that believers assert that God interacts with the world in any way (the God--or really gods, for those indicating that I should put more attention on polytheism too), for those who do not accept existence presuppositionally (or axiomatically--taken to be a starting point of a reasoning process, formally, or as "self-evidently true" informally), all of those interactions, and thus God's very existence by extension, become treatable as hypotheses.
I thought I articulated this dilemma nicely, but perhaps my memory of my writing is better written than my actual writing. Here it is:
- Believers can accept that their God is either remote or imaginary--in the latter case he is obviously abstract, a concept, but this is true in the former case for all intents and purposes--and asserting as much and supposing that their actions follow their claims accurately, the rest of us will do so as well and not care; or
- Believers can insist that their God interacts with the world in any way whatsoever, at which point those of us who do not accept God's existence presuppositionally or axiomatically will treat the matter as a hypothesis to be examined.
That said, I think Jenna Black may be agreeing with me, though she disagrees with the validity of atheism--and odd way to phrase something that means "I don't think a coherent view of the world can be formulated without assuming there is a God to answer some metaphysical questions."
Of course, I don't think she does agree with me generally, of course not, and I wouldn't want to mischaracterize her in that way. She is quite sure that God exists in actuality, whatever her words seem to give away, citing Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, Elohim created Heaven and Earth," along with the existence of the Earth as strong evidence for God's existence. I have, of course, left the original Hebrew in place of "God" in Gen. 1:1 here to highlight the plural because I find it odd she doesn't also see that verse as evidence for the polytheistic belief system that predates the monotheism Judaism eventually became.
At any rate, I thank her for her willingness to read my book, her time invested, and her candor in the review she left me.