Monday, January 27, 2014

The other fact almost all Christians miss

The other day, I made a post about the one fact that almost all Christians miss, referring to the fact that what they claim to be truth is merely an interpretation of the Bible, with unresolvable epistemic differences between that interpretation and truth (that is, they cannot know that their interpretation, or any, is actually true). I spoke too soon, though. There's at least one other fact that almost all Christians miss.

This second fact requires a little motivation. Though I don't know if it is connected to his discussion with me or not, I was made aware that Tom Gilson posted a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's, The Idiot,  Part II Chapter IV, translated by Eva Martin. He notes that the italics are in the original.
“As to faith,” [the Prince] said smiling, and evidently unwilling to leave Rogozhin in this state—“as to faith, I had four curious conversations in two days, a week or so ago. One morning I met a man in the train, and made acquaintance with him at once. I had often heard of him as a very learned man, but an atheist; and I was very glad of the opportunity of conversing with so eminent and clever a person. He doesn’t believe in God, and he talked a good deal about it, but all the while it appeared to me that he was speaking outside the subject. And it has always struck me, both in speaking to such men and in reading their books, that they do not seem to really to be touching on that at all, though on the surface they may appear to do so. I told him this, but I dare say I did not clearly express what I mean, for he could not understand me.”
This quote reveals a second fact that almost all Christians miss: If there is no God, they're talking outside the subject too.

Let's take in hand for a moment the not that hard-to-imagine idea that there is no God. What, exactly, are Christians talking about when they talk about God? The obvious answer is: not God, which is to say something else. (I have something to say about this something else, but that will have to wait for later.)

Since Christians presume their God, they think that they're talking about it, but since they cannot know that their God exists beyond the acceptance of a presumption, they cannot know they're talking about it either. Hence, it's easy to say atheists aren't talking about "the subject" (obviously--no one is), and it's easy to say that anyone else any particular Christian doesn't agree with isn't talking about "the subject" (because it's trivially true). The other fact that almost all Christians miss, though, is that they can't know that they're talking about "the subject" either.

1 comment:

  1. JL: "Let's take in hand for a moment the not that hard-to-imagine idea that there is no God."

    In my experience, this is a critical problem; I think that many Christian minds simply reel / boggle at the idea that there is no God -- they literally CANNOT imagine it.

    I think if a Christian could truly entertain a world without God, then they would be well, well down the road toward an enlightened skepticism and suspended belief regarding any supernatural claims. The trick, I think, is getting them to actually consider what you propose.

    I truly have no idea how to go about doing that, btw.