If we take the hard scrub-brush of deductive reasoning, to that mental house of cards first cemented by St Anselm’s ontological argument as proof for the existence of god, we can actually learn considerably more than one might suspect, from what we have left.
As Thomas Aquinas argued, the mere fact that the mind of man is able to conceive of the idea of god, is certainly no proof of god’s existence. After all, the same mind of man that is capable of pondering the question of what could possibly lie beyond the edge of space, is just as capable of seeing the image of Mary in a cow chip, or imagining monsters under the bed. All that it means is that we have a wide imagination.
And all the other claims that are automatically attributed to this imagined embodiment of perfection, can likewise be dismissed:
Omniscient? Omnipotent, All loving? That would depend, of course, on whether you’re drawing your conclusions from some of the hard lessons of nature, or merely indulging an overarching hubris, in supposing ourselves to be the central focus of some anthropic super power’s attentions.
But, for the sake of addressing the issue, I’d like to propose a modest line of questioning, and look to determine what possible reason one might be able to give, for postulating the existence of an intentionally ‘hidden,’ or absentee god.
After all, any god capable of creating an entire universe, containing billions of galaxies and stars within those galaxies, who first breathed life into man, — who has, parenthetically, and apparently on his own, made any number of brilliant discoveries, and developed massive amounts of intrinsically subtle technology – and yet is either unwilling or unable to directly make his own existence known, or communicate his own wishes to us, is clearly either not there, dead, or in hiding.
We’re not going to go with dead and being channeled through Pat Robertson, or any of his ilk.
But of the three, lets see if we can’t use our inductive reasoning, to brainstorm and come up with any possible rational reason for the existence of this proposed absentee landlord of the cosmos.
It’s been suggested, at least by myself if not some others, that possibly we’re being punished. That we’ve been exiled to this worldly prison, where we’ve all been given life sentences beyond any direct knowledge of god.
Some consideration can certainly be paid to the possible impact any direct knowledge of a deity might have on our world view — much as might be presumed to occur if we had direct knowledge of any other extra-terrestrial life.
Could people continue living normal lives, and not spend them in constant supplication and petition, if they knew that the lord of all things could simply solve all their problems, and grant any their wishes, if it were only his will?
Could god even still be god, if he was directly knowable? Or would he quickly become relegated to the position of president and CEO of some ‘heavenly government’ in our minds. That once seen and directly known, could be grumbled at by individuals unhappy with their own particular lot in life?
That I once held these arguments in high regard, as a hedge against our ability to completely discount even the remotest possibility of a deity’s existence, I confess.
But lets return to these same proposed possibilities, and see how they hold up under the deductive logic of simple human reason.
There is a certain appeal, that again – I once regarded favorably, in holding that any direct knowledge of the existence of god would simply negate any meaning to our ability to struggle, and suffer, and learn. Because, I believe there is intrinsic value to the learning achieved through overcoming the difficulties, and meeting the demands of this life. But our suffering — indeed all suffering — could quickly be seen as pointless, if it were to merely hinge on one’s ability to petition, or otherwise game god for relief.
Where this argument really loses ground, though, is when we look around and consider that there are many people who already operate on the presumption that god has a direct hand in their lives. Who go about thinking god is looking directly over their shoulder at everything they do. Who spend inordinate amounts of time in supplication to their particular deities, and are unabashedly unashamed in claiming gods love and concern for themselves, while often excluding or simply remaining indifferent to the fate of vast majorities of the human race.
And additionally, we’re now faced with the problem of having to parse between legions of religious leaders and authorities, who are equally unashamed in unabashedly claiming to know and understand the mind of god, while also claiming all necessary authority for the right to speak in his behalf.
English scientist Julian Huxley (1887-1975) famously observed that:
“Operationally, God is beginning to resemble not a ruler but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire Cat.”
So we have to ask ourselves, what good could it possibly do for any ‘real god’ to remain hidden, when there are so many imposters ready to stand up and represent themselves as emissaries in his stead?
Because unless this real god was to have some means of preventing the gross misuse and misappropriation of his own intended role, we can grant no advantage to any idea that he is simply keeping himself hidden for our benefit.
And in fact, it is this inability to defend himself or his own good name, against such egregious misuse and abuse, that provides the final logical evidence for establishing this proof — that no ‘real god’ exists, outside of the hearts and minds of those who may desperately want him to exist, for any number of good reasons.
And, as it was for me, this can’t help but be one of the deciding issues for those many as yet undecided deists, caring to weigh this out.
And Out of a sense of self respect, for having ever given this idea safe haven in the deepest recesses of the mind, one needs to quietly lay this myth to rest.