I took my car
to the mechanic for repairs and it was returned with a significant scratch. In fact, it was sloppily painted over so I wouldn’t notice. The head mechanic denied that it could have happened at his shop because he d idn’t punish his employees for accidents… they would have told him about it if it happened at his shop. How could his employee not tell him since there would be no consequences? Being a philosophy nerd, I immediately saw the logical fallacy, just because the mechanic didn’t punish his employees for accidentally scratching a car, doesn’t necessarily mean they would tell him about it. I pointed out why what he said was logically flawed, though he continued to make more arguments. I explained how each of the arguments he gave was logically invalid.
At the end of it he looked like he wanted to murder me with the closest object he could find (the keyboard in front of him, a tire-pressure monitor, hurling the mechanic next to him at me… anything!) He agreed to fix the car, but was a legendary pain when I tried to take him up on it… and probably because of this interaction we had. I imagine that I appeared to him no less of an obnoxious intellectual than if I had a three-cornered hat, a pear-shaped body tucked into a royal red coat, (I feel like there might have been a moment in history when men were desperate to look like the spitting image of a pear) and was telling him that his country was the parental right of Great Britain.
If you can prove something to someone that they really do not want to accept, they feel mistreated.
It is as if you have captured them and taken them as a sort of intellectual slave. The freedom they thought they had to believe what they wanted feels violated. You have effectively forced them to believe their view is false. As Pascal wrote,
“Reason commands us in a far more domineering way than a master; for in disobeying the one we are unfortunate, and in disobeying the other we are fools.” – Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
This suggests that there could be a very good reason that we cannot prove God.
If we could, people would probably feel as if God was forced on them, that they lived in a world without significant freedom, and that, as the mechanic, they might feel as if the pear-shaped redcoat jerks were forcing them into following God.
This could seriously compromise human freedom…
Following God would not be a choice
We would know with mathematical certainty that bad things would happen to us if we didn’t follow God. Not following God would be like not paying your taxes and expecting nothing bad to happen. There would be no doubt that God, the perfect judge of the world, was always aware of everything we did, and living in rebellion to Him would result in serious consequences. No rational person could avoid following God.
If we could prove the Christian God, living your life for God wouldn’t be a choice any more than paying your taxes is a choice.
You can choose not to pay your taxes but you would have to be a fool to do so because far greater consequences would be inevitable. Would people then resent God for not giving them a real choice of whether or not to follow him? That seems likely. But what would be the consequences of this drastically different world?
Being a moral person would be near impossible?
Imagine learning in 1st grade that every time you did anything good (i.e. shared with your classmates or helped someone in need) you would get to spend the next week at Chuck-e-Cheese gorging yourself on pizza and electronic games. You would be so blinded by the reward that you wouldn’t ever learn to love what is good for its own sake. You would be learning to love Chuck-e-Cheese and his magical play-land, not learning to live morally. As an adult imagine that every time you did something good 5,000 dollars would be deposited in your account. Would you be helping your neighbor because you loved your neighbor, or because you loved money? Likewise, if it were impossible to ever rationally doubt God’s existence you would know that the treasures of the universe would be yours if you lived a moral life and you could never learn to do good because you loved what is good.
Conclusion – We need you H.G. Wells
The situation is far more complex than it may first appear. It is not at all clear it would be a better world if we could prove God’s existence; it could be a sort of H.G. Wells nightmare world. Imagine a world where everyone does what is moral only because they are constantly afraid of God’s judgment. They may picture God as the pear-shaped feather-hatted tyrant in the sky, who never gave them a choice of what to spend their life doing and never even made it possible for them to have moral significance in their lives. Being able to prove that the Christian God exists might make all of that completely impossible. They say you should end blogs with a question. What is X if 2+2x+2y = 100000xyz?