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 IAmAnAtheist » Defining Terms

Defining Terms

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

A Christian and an atheist in the lounge of a college dormitory

Danielle: I noticed that you didn’t sign up for the Bible study this weekend. Don’t you want to get closer to God?

Clair: I’m not interested in religion.

Danielle: You at least admit that God exists, don’t you?

Clair: I don’t think that the phrase “God exists” has meaning. God is an undefined term. Nobody can describe “God” in a sensible way, so it doesn’t make sense to take a position on whether or not it exists. That would be like saying I do or don’t believe Foobeing exists.

Danielle: What’s Foobeing?

Clair: I don’t know. That’s the point. You can’t describe God so it makes no sense to make statements about it.

Danielle: But I can describe God. God is the embodiment of love and justice.

Clair: That doesn’t mean anything. I could say that the Foobeing is the embodiment of disdain and wholesomeness and it wouldn’t tell you anything.

Danielle: God is the creator of the universe.

Clair: Then if it turned out that quantum fluctuations created the universe, would you say that quantum fluctuations are God?

Danielle: No. God made quantum physics, too.

Clair: Then you’re still not really describing anything. You’re just assigning properties to something you haven’t defined.

Danielle: You’re really being annoying. You could take any statement and just declare that it’s meaningless. That doesn’t prove anything except that you don’t want to believe in God.

Clair: That’s not true. You could describe this couch in a way that uniquely identifies it and I’d agree that you are right. What you can’t do is make a statement like “God is an immaterial thing that takes action” and expect me to accept it when that makes no sense on its face. Immaterial things can’t do anything.

Danielle: You’re just deciding that immaterial things can’t take action. You can’t prove it.

Clair: In a material world, immaterial things can’t take action by definition.

Danielle: God doesn’t live in the material world.

Clair: That’s just introducing another meaningless term. What does it mean for an immaterial thing to exist in an immaterial place and take action?

Danielle: You not being able to understand something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Clair: That’s true, but something being linguistically meaningless is evidence that if we talk about it we don’t mean anything. Would you accept that Foobeing lives in foospace?

Danielle: What? No. You made that up.

Clair: How do you know? My coming up with something isn’t evidence that it doesn’t exist. Foospace is the place where Foobeing lives, and only Foobeing exists there. It’s a place outside of space and time from which Foobeing controls all of God’s actions with her Godangulator.

Danielle: You can’t control God.

Clair: Foobeing can.

Danielle: No he can’t.

Clair: She can’t.

Danielle: God can’t be controlled. There’s no such thing as Foobeing.

Clair: How do you know there’s no Foobeing? And how do you know that immaterial things in immaterial places can’t be controlled from Foospace?

Danielle: Because there is no Foospace. God is all powerful, so He can’t be controlled by anything.

Clair: What does that mean? Something we can’t detect existing without matter no place we can even imagine has the power to do any conceivable thing?

Danielle: I can imagine Heaven. I can imagine God.

Clair: You can imagine what immaterial people and places are like? Can you honestly say you can make a picture in your head of something immaterial that can do things and be somewhere? Or are you just imagining fluffy clouds and angels and labeling them “immaterial” without noticing that that makes no more sense than calling a glass of water a duck?

Danielle: You can play all the word games you want, it doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist.

Clair: That’s true, but it does prove that when you say God exists you don’t know what you’re talking about.


If you have a conversation that you’d like me to consider publishing on this blog or in an upcoming book, please see the conversation guidelines.

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 5:04 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

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