Monday, December 15, 2014

Pulp Fiction II

Pulp Fiction II
 This is the intellectual property of the author. Permission to reproduce in any format is granted, on the condition that you attribute it to the author and that you do not publish it for personal monetary gain.
            ‘Uber-God is more powerful than God,’ said the Confused Boy. ‘If I can imagine a being that is greater than God in all His attributes, then that being is greater than God and God is not omnipotent, omniscient, et cetera.’

            The Polemicist sat stone-faced. Was this really the best that deductive philosophy had to offer?

            ‘See here.’ The Confused Boy constructed an elaborate line-by-line proof on a notebook paper, using logical operators that the Polemicist did not recognize, because he had not taken Deductive Systems. ‘I define Uber-God as having greater knowledge than God, greater power than God, and of course he is more benevolent than God…now try to defend your God within the context of this proof.’

            ‘Uber-God doesn’t exist.’

            ‘No no no, you’re not doing it right, you illogical fundamentalist. You have to use the proof I gave you to try to argue against your God’s nonexistence.’

            The Polemicist wondered what website Confused Boy had come across late at night and been so impressed with that he was trying to replicate the effect on him by copying the argument verbatim. But had he not considered that what was persuasive to an atheist was hardly persuasive to an intellectually satisfied Christian?

            ‘Simply saying that there’s a greater being than God doesn’t make that being exist,’ replied the Polemicist. ‘It’s like saying you’ll add one to infinity. Being able to put the words “greater than God” together in a sentence doesn’t mean that such a concept is realistically possible.’

            ‘You’re not addressing the argument. And I know you can’t. According to this proof, your God is not all-powerful and thus not worthy of worship.’ The Confused Boy folded his hands in smug confidence.

            The Polemicist was perplexed as to what assumption the Confused Boy was making that led him to think he had his opponent cornered. He tried to explain that imagining an alternate universe with a more powerful all-powerful being was an exercise in futility, because there was no basis for believing that such a universe existed. It was appealing to a hypothetical deity in order to argue against another one. If God was supposedly nonexistent and belief in Him irrational, how much less rational would it be to believe in Uber-God, who was nonexistent to an even greater degree of nonexistence? If you believed God to be a hypothetical concept, and the invocation thereof irrelevant to reality, how could invoking another hypothetical concept to combat this possibly be of any use?

            ‘What would you say to someone who responded that, by definition, Uber-God would be God?’

            ‘Simple. Uber-God’s first article of faith is that the Bible is false. (Eat that, you Bible-thumping bigot).’

            ‘Well, obviously Uber-God is an inferior deity, then, if he denies obvious truths.’ The Polemicist’s smirk pricked at the Confused Boy’s confidence and drove him to take a more aggressive approach. If his opponent did not want to play fair, he would have to spell it out for him.

            ‘God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived, correct?’ The Polemicist would not have put it that way, but assented for the sake of argument, to see where the Confused Boy’s logic would lead. ‘And since I can conceive of something greater than God, then God can’t be the greatest thing that can be conceived. And if He isn’t the greatest thing that can be conceived, then He is not “that than which nothing greater can be conceived,” ergo, He is not God. Ergo, since God is not God, God does not exist.’

            The Polemicist was dumbfounded. For a silver bullet, this was among the least impressive proofs against God he’d heard so far, short of the ‘why do males have nipples’ one, perhaps. It hinged on the notion that conceiving something infinite was even possible—and mark, not just conceiving the notion of an infinite, but actually comprehending the infinite as it actually is, which is a big difference! But more than that, the argument seemed to hinge on the expectant belief that the Polemicist was guaranteed to defend the definition of God as ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived.’ The Confused Boy seemed unwilling to accept that The Polemicist wasn’t forced to agree with someone else just because the Confused Boy’s philosophy professor had told him that this argument was the best that Christian philosophy could muster.

            ‘Suppose it’s possible to conceive of something greater than God,’ the Polemicist suggested, ‘for example by scaling up the quantifiable effect of one of God’s attributes.’ It isn’t the case that simply by conceiving it, that something greater can exist. God can be the greatest thing in existence, even if He weren’t the greatest thing you could imagine. Isn’t this true?’

            ‘No, you can’t do that. If God isn’t the greatest thing conceivable, then He isn’t God.’

            ‘Why not? What attribute has He lost?’

            ‘You have to believe this. You have to defend this. You don’t understand the power of this proof because of your backward ignorance.’

            ‘The proof fails because it assumes that something has to exist because you can imagine it. It doesn’t.’

            ‘But that is what you believe! That whatever the greatest thing in existence is, that has to be God!’

            ‘That’s not why I believe God is the greatest being in exis---‘

            ‘---and simply believing He exists doesn’t mean He does!’

            ‘And I fully agree. I believe He exists because He does, not the other way around.’

            ‘You believe “that than which nothing greater can exist” must be God, and now I’ve proven your God not to exist. Uber-God killed your God. You can’t deny this.’ The Confused Boy held firmly to his preexisting conviction that Anselm of Canterbury was the tool of his victory, and that the Polemicist had to agree with Anselm, because he was a Christian, and Christians had to blindly accept what their leaders told them. Every one of them was responsible for agreeing with whatever another one had said. Thinking for oneself was the greatest sin in Christendom, and any believer who did was surely a deceitful hypocrite, or not truly faithful!

            ‘If you say so.’

            The Confused Boy stalked away, sure of himself, and, too busy rehearsing how he would boast of his trouncing the arrogant, hateful gay-basher with the power of education and logic, did not take notice of the ironic satire contained in the Polemicist’s final remark.
~ Rak Chazak

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