Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bullshit Pulpit: The Danger of First Premises

Many apologists will argue that, were God to make his presence a verifiable fact, that would violate the free will of humans to freely believe or disbelieve in him, which God cannot do.  In syllogistic format, the argument goes:
1.  Forcing awareness of God's existence upon persons is a violation of their free will.
2.  God does not violate the free will of persons.
3.  Therefore, God will not prove his existence to persons.
I am defining "person" as "a rational agent possessing moral worth" as a bare minimum to which I think we can all agree.  Whatever else a person may be, a person at least is a rational agent possessing moral worth.

Let's forget for a moment that God proved his existence beyond all reasonable (and even most unreasonable) doubt to all manner of people in the Bible.  I want to talk specifically about the book of Exodus and God's interactions with Pharaoh in the downtime between the ten plagues.  Here are some more premises:
4.  God forcibly changed Pharaoh's mind in the book of Exodus.
5.  Forcibly changing the mind of a person is a violation of that person's free will.
This seems to create a conflict with 2 above.  Hmm.  Here are the available conclusions, as far as I can see them:
6.  God violates the free will of persons from time to time.  Capriciously, or perhaps arbitrarily.
7.  The Bible is wrong on at least one count.
8.  The Pharaoh was not a person.
Obviously, 6 is out - we know this from 2.  We can also reject 7, because God wouldn't allow the Bible to contain falsehoods.  Otherwise we would not be able to use it as the handy guide to the One Truth of the Universe that it is.  That leaves us with 8, which means that God's chosen people were in long-term slavery to some manner of philosophical zombie.

Now, I know this may seem odd, but think about how many problems are neatly swept under the rug by this new information!  All those poor souls who never heard of Jesus and would be consigned to an eternity in Hell?  They're just soulless zombies.  The Canaanite civilizations which the Israelites raped, pillaged, and razed to the ground?  Nothing but zombies.  Starving villages in Africa?  More zombies.  Spontaneously aborted embryos?  Zombies!

The apologetic necessity of philosophical zombies, as it turns out, resolves the problem of evil at one stroke!  It also eases the mathematical strain of reconciling the fact that only 144,000 Jews are going to Heaven with the fact that there are more than 144,000 members in damn near every sect of Judaism.  Now all of us Good Christians can rest easy in the knowledge that no person is really suffering in the world that God made for us.  In fact, I'd bet my soul that this is really the One Truth of the Universe right here:  that almost all of humanity is really just philosophical zombies, extras on the set for God's big scene.

We can go further with this, too.  For the real humanity to avoid the struggle that has characterized almost all life on Earth, they'd have to be living in first-world nations.  I bet they're rich and white, too.  And so God's special 144,000 spots have really only recently been opened up to the public - get your tickets now!  Only the first 144,000 humans to realize this divine truth will have true personhood bestowed upon them, and then Jesus is going to come blow up the world once Heaven's sold out!

See what happens when you have totally inflexible first premises and then you come across, like, facts?  I'm reminded of the story of the logic professor explaining conditional ("if-then") statements:  he stated that a false premise validly implies any other premise.  One student demanded, "OK, show how 2=1 implies that you're the pope."  The professor responded that, since two is the same as one, and there are the two entities of himself and the pope, then those two entities are actually one and the same entity.  Therefore, 'two equals one' implies 'the professor is the pope.'  Damn, now I want to do this stuff on a regular basis!

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