Wisdom and discernment. These two qualities are something that the Bible speaks quite fondly about. However, within the context it is mostly applied to God and his will for those who believe. As we zoom out and begin to consider the claims of all religions, this alleged wisdom becomes less clear, perhaps even less compelling. You see, if the wisdom of God does hold true, it holds true in a very selective manner as we shall soon see. It begs the question, where is such wisdom for the nonbeliever? For those who do not carry such expectations or assumptions about a particular God or set of beliefs?
A big part of this debate is about who has the better wisdom. The upper hand, so to speak. Theists truly believe that they have the wisdom of God on their side. This gives them, in their minds, a corner on the truth. This is only true, I think, if it can be viably demonstrated that God exists.
So how about we level out the playing field and agree on what wisdom looks like. I’ll put it into question format.
- What does anybody truly know within life? What is the extent of our capacity to judge or even be aware of these matters?
There appear to be a few different groups or schools of thought:
Some people really do think that God talks to them and reveals his will to them plainly in our modern day. Some believe it is more subjective, as it is within their heart or mind that God speaks and/or reveals.
Others believe in God but acknowledge that their own relational standpoint does not involve direct revelation. These folks are attempting to stand on the shoulders of the best minds within their religious tradition.
Others do not know with any measure of certainty what to think. They ask, do I be believe in God or not? It’s a toss up.
Others acknowledge that enough seems to remain open ended and contradictory within this conversation to conclude that it is rather likely that religion and belief in God is false. It doesn’t hold water. The amount of poor data creates skepticism and unbelief.
I think that a line can be drawn here and it is primarily with regard to the confidence that people in these groups hold about what they know. What we know, or even what we think we know, has a lot to do with how we perceive reality. Am I right?
The line that I personally draw is that since there seems to be only a very small fragment of people that believe that a God or gods are directly revealed in the world, and since many of these claims are contradictory by comparison, the chances are really very slim that anybody is actually right about what they think they are discerning or perceiving from God. This gives us reason to factor in delusion, error, hallucination, and just plain falsehood. It is because again, by comparison, these varying claims across the religious spectrum, when compared to one another are contradictory and unable to be resolved.
Either the true God or set of gods is very secretive and unconcerned about being clearly known to the vast majority of human beings, or these people are simply deceived within the world. I go with the latter view. It makes most sense of the data in my opinion.
If there was more unanimity among the varying religions about who God is and what his/her plans are, it would at least give more reason for pause, and even more reason for consideration.
Apart from immediate evidence and revelation I see no reason to favor any particular religion. This is what I’m really trying to hit home with my Christian and religious friends. If they know something that I don’t know, then they are part of a very privileged few. It means that an existing God is not interested in being known by everyone in a truly sensible and reasonable fashion.
Who has the burden of proof in the end, you ask? Those who exhibit confidence that God exists because my twofold answer is, I don’t know, and I just don’t think so at the moment. Many believers in God, especially in the second group that I mentioned above are with me in that they admit that they do not know. There is uncertainty, however, they personally do not see such a lack of knowledge and data as being threatening to their belief in God. I must contend that it is if one is concerned about how to establish what is true.
In my next post I plan to explore how much one’s personal assumptions and expectations shape their own perception of reality. Especially with regard to this notion of the voice of God. Don’t go away!