Thursday, March 3, 2011

Theological fallout from "birthtime"

The ACLU directrix who proposed the "birthtime (b.t.) method" for calculating your next birthday ("When's your birthday time?") had trouble sleeping the next night. His dreams were haunted by profound theological rumblings, which, round about 3:30 a.m., gave rise to the following proof for the non-existence of God:
God, by definition, created the universe.
    But only a cruel God would have organized the clockwork of our planet around the sun in such a fashion that something as complicated as birthtime is needed to calculate accurate birthdays.
    Therefore, since God, also by definition, is not cruel, birthtime implies that there is no God and also implies that creation is the consequence of random happenstance.
This can't be right, can it? If you think you can refute this argment, please be so kind as to offer your refutation in a comment. Thanks in advance.


  1. Of course God cannot be cruel, but He can appear to be cruel. The plausibility of everything religious rests on this distinction, which you have overlooked. It's the nth degree of human presumption to extrapolate from puny human experience to claims of God knowledge.


  2. Ken, thanks for your submission. I've alerted Mr. Leland, and I hope that he will have a response.
        I will myself say, however, that you have identified a key element indeed in people's thinking and feeling as regards religion ("the plausibility of everything religious"). In more than one of Bart D. Ehrman's books that I have read, he gives this consideration (in the form of "the problem of suffering") as the primary reason for his having become an agnostic (after a life that started religiously as a fundamental Biblical literal inerrantist in his teens—he studied at the Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College before going on to Princeton Theological Seminary).

  3. Ken,
    You've hit the nail on the head. To believe in God one must believe in contradictions. In my mind appearing to be cruel is no different than being cruel. Perhaps the definition of God should be changed to allow him to be cruel at times. But then He would be less Godlike and more like us humans.

  4. Mr. Directrix, please excuse me for not believing you when you say that Appearance = Reality. Here's an example from the mortal realm that we inhabit... My leftist cousin Candace believes that Obama is a fraud and a sellout. My neighbor Jack, an ardent Tea Partier, believes that Obama is a dangerous Socialist who is bent on destroying the country. Can the reality of Obama be all of these things? And note that knowing Obama is probably much less difficult than knowing God.

  5. Ken, the Directrix can, of course (and may yet), speak for himself, but your equating his "God's appearing to be cruel and being cruel" to "Appearance = Reality" seems to me, as an impartial observer, to be a conjuror's attempted sleight of hand, for he clearly (to me, at any rate) was speaking, not from the point of view of us observers (some of whom, as you mention, regularly confuse appearance and reality), but from the point of view of God.
        Of course, if I misinterpreted him, I hope he will correct me (not to mention you, if he feels that you, too, can stand some correction).
        In fact, if he can say more about "God's point of view" with respect to appearing to be and being cruel, that would be a bonus.

  6. Au contraire mon ami! Of course Obama can be all of “those” things. If he is indeed “a dangerous Socialist who is bent on destroying the country”, is he then not also “a fraud and a sellout”.

    As for “appearance=reality”, let me clarify. My statement should have been, “In my mind God appearing to be cruel is no different than God being cruel”. For we mortals, “appearance vs reality” is of course open for individual interpretation. But for God, the Big Kahuna, it’s bad PR, is it not, not to offer a logical explanation for cruel acts of nature which are by definition under His control and in which the wicked and righteous alike perish. This void leads the Directrix to conclude that periodic random “Acts of God”, are evidence that in reality He does not exist and His appearance is nothing more than a figment of mortal imagination.

  7. Monsieur Directrix, or Jim, perhaps you meant "mes amis" (plural)? I know that you and Ken would like each other a lot in person, as you have much in common, fine, witty minds not the least of it.
        I don't think Ken meant what you've taken him to mean, but only that Obama couldn't be all of the truly contradictory things that people believe about him.
        And he wants to make the same statement about God, which I think is true from people's point of view, but not from what I termed "God's point of view," which is what I think you're talking about. And I hoped you could elaborate on that, but you didn't. Not that it's clear to you what I may mean by "God's point of view." I'll be thinking how to state it clearly.

  8. Morris, I'm not sure that the being called "God" can have a point of view about anything. Because He is omniscient and omnipresent, He can never stand apart and consider something from a certain vantage point. Rather, the something itself is submerged in Him, as are all of its viewers. So when someone says that God is evil, it's a futile attempt to hang a tag on a being that is beyond good and evil. And yes, for the same reasons, God cannot be good.

  9. Ken, you state some attributes of "God" (omniscient, omnipresent, beyond good and evil, beyond point of view) with such confidence, I'd love for you to have been alive during the time of Averroes and St. Thomas Aquinas (to name only a couple of worth theologians). You'd have had them running in circles!
        You could almost be said to have written "fini" to this discussion....
        ...except that everything we've attributed to "God" has been "by definition," and we can go on defining until Doomsday—er, rather, until the cows come home—without having established that any god by any of these definitions exists.