The crime of unbelief
A courtroom scene. On the bench is the supreme Judge of the land. His seat is as a throne, high and lifted up, and his robe seems to fill all of space1. In front of him stand the day’s appointments…the souls of the recently departed. He calls for the next defendant.
The bailiff, quite unlike any that these defendants have ever seen, is glorious in light and fearsome in authority.2 “Professor Lawrence Maxwell Krauss!” he thunders.
With great and terrible trepidation a meek, ashen-faced figure of a man steps forward. He carefully avoids the gaze of the mighty Magistrate, vainly attempting a posture that communicates submission with a touch of superiority.
The Judge, whose voice and countenance communicate unapproachable superiority with more than a touch of compassion, addresses the hapless defendant. “Dr. Krauss. Larry.” Hearing the Mighty One call him by name, similarly to how he had often heard it in dreams that would frighten him awake shaking and perspiring, Krauss finally looked up. And there he was…the one he had for so long refused to acknowledge.
“Larry. Why? Why did you reject what your great learning revealed of me? Why did you close your eyes to the signs and the evidences? Why did you choose to overlook my fingerprints?”
Some of the waiting defendants snickered and others hung their heads in shame. But they all knew they too would need to answer. The once-great physicist, hoping against hope that he still had a chance, timidly yet arrogantly replied, “It wasn’t enough!”
A hush fell over the courtroom as the gravity of the scientist’s audacity and the sure finality of his impending fate sobered the already heavy proceedings like a death knell. And the always-greatest Judge, shaking his head said, “Ah, yes. Your friend Mr. Russell tried that one also. The evidence is more than enough for all who humble themselves, Lawrence. Many with your knowledge and stature are now resting in the joy and peace of my Kingdom. The problem is not a lack of evidence. The problem is pride.”
As the towering and fearsome officers of the court took hold of the defendant, the Judge addressed him one last time. “There is no joy nor peace where you are going, Lawrence, and I take no pleasure in sending you there. But you give me no choice. At least you and Bertrand will have much to talk about.” And with an almost imperceptible nod to the officers, the defendant was dispatched to his eternal confinement.
I’m sure Dr. Krauss would get a good laugh from my little supernatural, sentencing scenario. As would my atheist readers. But laugh it off though they may, this is what we’re talking about when we debate the evidence for the existence of God. If it is true, as we theists believe, that there is a God who will hold us accountable for how we respond to his revelation of himself, then something akin to this courtroom scene is in every atheist’s future. And I present it not in any way to ridicule Dr. Krauss or others who reject God, but to warn them.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am praying for Lawrence Krauss…that God will mercifully and powerfully convict him of his sin and his precarious position as an ardent anti-theist. That he will be clearly confronted with the realization that he is a condemned man with no recourse but to fall on the mercy of the Court. Because being convicted in this life is infinitely, eternally, unfathomably better than being convicted in the next.1 Isaiah 6:1 2 Revelation 18:1
“You give me no choice. Regardless of how moral or good a person you were, you honestly didn’t believe I existed, so you get punished for eternity.”
I’m sorry…but even if I did believe that being existed, why would I want to worship it if it punishes people for so silly a reason?
Issues abound (unlike evidence)
(a i) Why do you present such a narcissistic God? i.e. Why is faith the standard and not deeds?
(a ii) Why are we asked to stray away from the very sense of reason you suppose God bestowed on us?
(b) You’re right to pray that Lawrence will be “powerfully convicted” to faith (given your world view). But why do some people get that and not others? Where is the equality in that?
(c i) What possible evidence could we see that would point away from God?
(c ii) Given that no evidence could suggest an absence of God, can you not see why reason does not point us in that direction?
(a i) Why shouldn’t faith be the standard? Why is deeds preferable? I don’t see that as being narcissistic at all.
(a ii) How are we “asked to stray away from the very sense of reason you suppose God bestowed on us”
(b) Those are reasonable questions. Here’s my best understanding: God is just. No one will be condemned who doesn’t deserve it. But hard as it may be to believe, we all deserve it. He is also merciful, but he doesn’t have to and doesn’t promise to be equally merciful to everyone. So in the case of Dr. Krauss, if he were to die today he would be rightly condemned, but because I am praying for him, God may choose to extend mercy to him that he otherwise would not have. And that mercy, by the way, might be in the form of taking away things that Krauss has come to rely on and causing him distress and pain, if God knows that’s the only way he will believe…if it takes taking him to the bottom and allowing him to find himself extremely needy with nothing and no one else to turn to.
( c) I’m sorry, no, I don’t see that at all.
(a i) The standard is to worship a being. Deeds aren’t relevant, suffering to others isn’t relevant; moulding to the grandiose position of a God is. That is narcissism.
(a ii) The very mechanism that has helped uncover all the science we have has to be abandoned to believe in God.
(b) One cannot be merciful and just. Justice means the appropriate response to an action. Mercy is lenience. One can never be both. But, at least we agree that it is, at least, demonstrable inequity. Now the question is how you define justice.
( c) If it’s not falsifiable, it’s not science. If it can explain everything, it actually explains nothing.
(a i) This is all simply false. If you want to know and understand, you could. But if you don’t even believe God exists, it’s unlikely you’re going to try.
(a ii) It is unreasonable to take the position that all truth must be empirically verifiable when <– that statement doesn’t meet its own standard. It is unreasonable to deny the plausibility of an immaterial, non-spatial, timeless, intelligent, uncaused cause of the universe when all the evidence points to it. It is unreasonable to deny the existence of an objective moral standard or to affirm it but deny a moral lawgiver. It is more than reasonable to believe in God, and by denying it you are denigrating the reasoning capabilities of multitudes of both the small and the great, and being unreasonable yourself.
(b) This is also false. Mercy does mitigate justice in the sense that it frees the guilty from punishment deserved. But justice never punishes the innocent or fails to grant the good that is justly deserved. I think of the parable in Matthew 20 where the vineyard owner hired men to work in his vineyard for a denarius, which was a typical day’s wages. Throughout the day he hired more men, even when there was only an hour left in the workday, telling them he would pay them whatever was right. When the day was over and he went to pay them all, he started with the men who were hired last and gave them each a denarius, so that the ones who were hired first and had worked longer thought they would receive more. When they received only the denarius they were promised, they were angry and felt cheated, and complained about it. But as the land owner pointed out to them, he gave them what he told them he would, and he has the right to be generous with the others if he wants. If he had denied them the denarius, he would have been unjust. But he was just in fulfilling his promise to them and not “punishing” them by cheating them out of their earned wage, and merciful by blessing the later workers with a wage they had not technically earned.
If you understand justice to be equity, which is something different, then you will think God unjust.
( c) Is the multiverse falsifiable?
(a i) I’d love to know what is false about my description of “salvation” being one of surrendering to narcissism.
(a ii) I don’t know why you are suddenly talking about empiricism. Science is the exploration for good models, based on evidence. The model that explains the success of science is technological progress: it landed us on a comet the other day.
(b) Give me an example of where God could be simultaneously just and merciful to the same person in response to the same transgression.
The example you gave of it being unjust to punish the innocent means that it is just to not punish the innocent. That’s not mercy.
The scriptural example is generosity to one, justice to another and thus inequity all round.
(c) The multiverse can be falsified by the falsification of theories that lead to that conclusion. It is currently a sound hypothesis derived from those theories. I did, by the way, notice the dodge where you didn’t answer the challenge regarding God.
(a) I’m going to dispense with this one because I don’t believe you honestly would “love to know” about God and his plan of salvation. And because we’ve been through this before, and I can refer you back to our other exchanges if you’re really interested.
(a ii) I brought up empiricism because you implied that if it’s not scientific, it’s unreasonable.
(b) I think my explanation of being just and merciful is clear enough. You don’t buy it…fine.
( c) Any discussion of the multiverse is about the theory. So your answer to my question is, it’s falsifiable by falsifying it.
I did not dodge your challenge about God. I love to sing his praises, as you may have noticed., and I talk about him a lot on this blog. But as I implied, I believe your challenges are intended to provoke an argument, not increase in understanding.
(a i) we have not been through my accusation of God being a narcissist before (although we’ve been through the morality element of this before).
(a ii) Science is not empiricism. Consider this: what is a star made from? Who has ever touched a star? What is an atom? How can one ever experience an atom? Science is simply not synonymous with empiricism.
(b) No. You’re explanation talks of responding to different people for different things. I am asking how God could be merciful and just at the same time to the same person. Else, God is merciful to some and just to others, and that’s inequity (which brings into question Its love and morality)
(c) I asked you whether God is falsifiable. You didn’t answer that question. If you want to play semantic games and claim that not answer the question is somehow different to not answering it, fine. But you didn’t answer it.
Any discussion about the multiverse is about the hypothesis derived from other theories, like loop quantum gravity or String Theory. To falsify the hypothesis of the multiverse you would need to falsify all the theories, but it is possible.
The multiverse is similar to God is may ways, for one it explains anything which is a weak scientific theory. The big difference between the multiverse and God is that the multiverse is plausible: we have a sample of one universe, we know they possibly form. We don’t have that information regarding God.
(a i) You know, we have. Most specifically at this post on the problem of pain, and there mostly with Cogitating Duck (who is a more knowledgeable debater than I). But throughout our other multiple exchanges, we have addressed the character of God and why he expects acknowledgement.
(a ii) Stars and atoms are both empirically “experienced.” And you’re not addressing my objection to your implication that belief in God is unreasonable.
(b) As I said before, justice and equity are not synonymous. And for you to judge God’s love and morality from a position of unbelief and unfamiliarity makes whatever conclusions you come to suspect and unreliable.
( c) If you could show that the assertion “God exists” is logically incoherent, that would falsify it. But I don’t see it as a scientific theory that needs to be falsifiable. Though science can examine and discover the results of his creative activity, he himself is outside the realm of nature and the reach of scientific inquiry.
(a i) Fine, we’ll drop the question of God’s narcissism and childish need to be acknowledged.
(a ii) There is no method of in science that is analogous to methods used to acknowledge God.
(b) No, you’re right. Justice according to God has nothing to do with equity. Never has. Remember when when God preferred the Israelites to everyone else, and you could take slaves from the non-Israelite populations? That particular inequity was called racism. The thing is, when I judge God, I’m doing it without bias; I’m doing the way I’d judge anybody who taught what God taught. It remains that justice and mercy are incompatible.
(c) The assertion God exists, when God is defined as “the omnipotent, omniscience, merciful and just Creator of everything” is incoherent. One cannot have complete omniscience and full choice, therefore God cannot be omnipotent and omniscient. Omnipotence is incoherent and has clear limits, like logic. But as logic is a thing, God cannot have authored it and be limited by it.
If you don’t think it is a scientific enquiry, how do you think you know? Here are your options: sufficient evidence, therefore it is scientific; useful construct (like spelling and grammar); subjective opinion; wild speculation. I’m open to hearing another option but I don’t see one.