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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Proof that God is a Delusion

I'm playing off the title of Richard Dawkins' infamous book, The God Delusion. My argument here is quite unlike anything you'll find in that book, however. While Dawkins is content to merely emphasize the implausibility of theism, I aim to demonstrate its inconceivability. What follows may thus be considered a preamble to an argument for theological noncognitivism.

The premises are as follows:

P1: If two entities are theoretically indistinguishable, they are identical.
P2: An infinite entity is not identical to any finite entity or set of entities.
P3: Theism defines "God" as an infinite being.
P4: The physical world contains only finite beings.

It follows from the above premises that,

C1: God is not contained in the physical world.
C2: The experience of God cannot come from the physical world.

Thus,

C3: The physical world cannot be evidence of God.

Continuing with the premises . . .

P5: Theism defines "divine revelation" either as knowledge of God or as that which produces knowledge of God, or both.

C4: The physical world cannot contain evidence of divine revelation. For, if it could, then it could contain evidence of God.

P6: Theism claims the human mind is capable of experiencing divine revelation.

Thus,

C5: The human mind cannot be physical, else it could not experience divine revelation.

C6: The mental experience of divine revelation is the only evidence for divine revelation. It cannot be corroborated with physical evidence, nor can it be inferred from other mental processes. For other mental processes do not produce knowledge of God.

P7: A delusion is defined as "a false belief held in spite of strong evidence against it."

C7: If delusions and divine revelation are not theoretically distinguishable, then they are identical.

P8: Delusions only exist in the mind. They cannot be corroborated with physical evidence.

C8: A person cannot distinguish a delusion from divine revelation in their own mind. Nothing in their experience could tell them that one experience was a delusion, and not divine revelation; or that it was divine revelation, and not a delusion.

Consider: If one experienced divine revelation, how could they be sure it was not a delusion? They would require some evidence beyond the experience itself. Since no such evidence is theoretically available, they cannot distinguish it.

And, if one experienced a delusion, how could they be sure it was not divine revelation? Indeed, nothing would count as evidence for them that it was not divine revelation. So, again, they cannot distinguish it.

Both divine revelation and delusions produce strong belief despite the theoretical lack of supporting evidence. The only difference, according to the theist, is that the former is true whilst the latter is false. Yet, there is no theoretical way of telling the difference.

Thus, a person cannot distinguish a delusion from divine revelation in their own mind. It follows that,

C9: Nobody else could distinguish it for them.

Therefore,

C10: There is no theoretical way of distinguishing a delusion from divine revelation.


Thus,

C11: Divine revelation (and so-called "knowledge of God") is a delusion.