It’s a mystery.

Do you ever get annoyed when, during a debate with a theist, they retreat into “God is mysterious; we just can’t understand him,” when they are confronted with something contradictory or un-answerable?


So then, you say, “But you’ve just told me all this stuff about God; how can he be unknowable?  Either you know him or you don’t.”


And then the reply is, “We can only understand what he has revealed to us,” and maybe, “Humans are incapable of fully understanding the mind of god.  We’ll get to learn everything in heaven.”


And that’s pretty much a conversation-stopper.




Were you ever in conversation with a theist who tried to stump you on what banged the big bang?  “Maybe,” they say, “it was God?”


And you say, “No, look, just because we don’t know all the details about something doesn’t mean God did it.


And they respond, “But you should consider the possibility, if you are as open-minded as you say you are.”


So you say, “Of course I will consider it if we find evidence to support it, but we don’t have that.”  (Hopefully, during this discussion, you have already defined “evidence” and explained how a hypothesis needs to be testable, repeatable, and disprovable.)  “Besides, everything we know now about the way the world works was once a mystery that we solved because we found evidence.  So even if something is unknown now, it isn’t unknowable, and we will learn about it someday.”


And this may also be a conversation-stopper, though I don’t think it needs to be.  We can talk a lot more about science than we can about Heaven and where it is and how we get there and what we find when we get there.


But it occurred to me that these two arguments are very nearly the same; they both simply say, “We don’t know yet.”  If one is invalid, shouldn’t the other one be?


Plus, do we really want “conversation-stoppers”?  I’d rather end a discussion with something we agree on rather than one party slinking away wondering why they couldn’t explain the reason the other party’s logic was faulty, and then coming up with a really good reason at 3 AM that night.


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2 Responses to “It’s a mystery.”

  1. Doulos Says:

    “and then coming up with a really good reason at 3 AM that night.”

    That’s the part that always sucks the most 😦

    Good post, very true.

  2. John H. Says:

    We may understand the “god of the gaps” false argument: that since WE don’t yet understand why something is means god did it, and we should stop looking. Rationally speaking, there is no reason to think we’ll find evidence of god once we’ve delved deeply enough into the universe, but theists ALREADY SEE the evidence, so our arguments against lack of understanding seem … ludicrous.

    I think the universe is much larger and weirder than we know. I suspect it may be stranger than we can imagine, but that’s based on my own limited understanding. In time, maybe we WILL understand it, but I think Goedel was probably right: there will always be some things true but unprovable inside any complex system. He spoke of mathematics, but mathematics seems to be capable of describing the universe (think fractals), so I think it applies.

    None of this is an attempt to be an apologist, because I still just say that I don’t know, and that I’m all right with that. If they think they know, then that’s their opinion and that’s fine. I remain unconvinced; so, apparently, do they.

    Acceptance of science as a provider of answers is exactly the same as faith in god, as long as you don’t understand the science. And that’s the difference.

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