Francis Rose asked:
I am taking an introductory metaphysics course in which our first unit is entitled “Who is God?”. One point in my textbook that stood out to me was the author’s statement that “indisputably” if God truly exists in both understanding and reality, then God “must be invisible”. Given how much is questioned in the discipline of metaphysics, why must we blindly accept God as being invisible? What formal proof or logic do we have that indicates that God cannot be a visible entity in reality? Perhaps if God exists, God is visible, and part of our struggle as humans is to be open to seeing God. As an aside, I am not religiously persuaded either for or against the existence of God. I am simply curious about how to approach this question from a philosophical standpoint.
Answer by Gideon Smith-Jones
It’s 23:30 here in the UK but I don’t want to let International Blasphemy Day pass without something being said against God.
Of course God is invisible. What you mean by ‘seeing’ God is something like religious revelation which isn’t literal seeing. Your author means literal seeing. If you could literally see God — not just see God in the sense of seeing some physical event that God has caused but see God as God then God would have to be an entity in the physical world.
If God is an entity in the physical world then a whole load of things that are believed about God can’t be true — being infinite, for example, or omniscient (a physical entity’s knowledge of other physical entities depends on cause and effect, which involves forming hypotheses that are increasingly difficult to verify with certainty).
But isn’t Christ God according to Christian doctrine? Only if you mean something weirdly peculiar by ‘is’, which no theologian to date has successfully explained. ‘I believe because I don’t understand’ (I believe because it’s nonsense) just about sums it up.
If I said I believed in invisible aliens who were with me all the time, observing me, giving an undetectable ‘push’ every now and then to help things along, I would be considered a candidate for a lunatic asylum. Yet this is exactly what millions, or billions, believe about the entity they call ‘God’. So strong is this belief that in some countries you can be put to death for expressing opposition to it.
‘Lots of things we justifiably believe in are invisible,’ a believer may say. The number five. Justice. Gravity or magnetism (you can only see their effects). Well if you’re saying that God is a concept or an abstract object then forget about any notion of God having any physical effect on the world (least of all being able to ‘create’ it). If you are saying that God is like a physical force, that would be fine if you have a testable theory to back it up — including proof of God’s alleged properties. Oh, but I forgot, bang goes infinitude, etc.
The God hypothesis is a crackpot theory which no reasonable human being ought to believe in. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what millions and billions continue to do. Unreason still rules — and will continue to rule until we blasphemers do something effective about it.
3 thoughts on “An invisible God?”
Is this what philosophy has become? Saying that anyone who believes in God should be in a mental hospital? By the way, I work in a mental hospital. Most people on earth believe in God. And that is true for people who are sane and also for people with mental health issues. It would seem that philosophy is dead when the argument of a ‘professional’ philosopher is that if you believe in God you should be in a “lunatic asylum” which by the way no longer exist “lunatic asylum” that is. Philosophy no longer exists either. It has been replace with Psychology. And therapists respect people’s beliefs. If you believe in something, and it is beneficial to you, then why throw insults in someone’s direction? As far as the relationship between mental illness and someone who is religious. Both can occur. An atheist can be mentally ill but one does not say that one causes the other unless I do not understand what mental illness is which seems to be the case here. Let’s lump everything together and call names and then that makes someone a Philosopher? That is an interesting set of behaviors. Most people believe in God because there is tons of evidence for believing in God, especially people’s own personal experiences. You do not consider that to be evidence because you say it is not scientific. Well, science has its limitation. Philosophy also has its limitations. Some things are the purview of Theology and Religion. If you ask an atheists philosophy if God is real he will say that anyone who believes in that stuff is crazy. Is that a thoughtful, reasoned answer? No, a 5 year old could say as much.
I’ll ignore the insults as my post was intended to be insulting. I am a blasphemer and I speak, not for philosophy (many philosophers unfortunately still embrace the God theory) but for blasphemers everywhere.
Five year olds are in a very tricky position. If your mum and dad believe in God then that’s what they teach you, and at five you are really in no position to argue. That’s child abuse.
Point taken about my politically incorrect description of mental hospital as ‘lunatic asylum’. Actually, I think that ‘asylum’ has a more positive meaning if you think about it. ‘Lunatic’ is a designation that comes from another discredited theory.
‘Most people believe in God’ is a pathetic argument. At one time most people believed the Earth was flat. Is that the best YOU can do?
As a blasphemer, I am defending my right to disbelieve. There are other, possibly better arguments against God. However, as the topic was God’s alleged invisibility, it cried out for the response I gave.
Your answer surprises me. It would seem you have your mind made up so I don’t think it would very productive to try to ‘reason’ with you. Either God exists or He does not. And I admit, referring to God as “He” is something that is questionable. That is whole discussion in itself. God is neither male or female in the human sense, God is much more than that. But we talk about God in terms we can related to as human beings. I do think the whole argument about God, degrades very quickly when atheists add their two cents and then they reach for weaker and weaker arguments to defend their position. Ok, you don’t believe in God, we get that. Then why do you have to say that in weaker and weaker and weaker ways over and over and over and over again. One vote against. Ok, got it. Most of the people in the world believe in God because of their own personal experience. But again, trying to reason with an atheist is really a waste of time. One vote against. Ok, duly noted.
Going back to the original question about whether God is invisible – I would say that God is mostly invisible but not completely invisible. There are many ways that we can know God and know about God. Jesus was certainly not invisible. Mohammed was not invisible and he wrote the Koran a very musical and beautiful book. Buddha was not invisible. Augustine was not invisible. Isaac Newton had more books on Biblical Interpretation that any other subject in his personal library. He had few books on physics because he had not written them yet. We are dealing with other sets of dimensions. If you are in a completely dark room and I walk up to you and push you, you cannot see who pushed you but you know you have been pushed. Actually, at the subatomic level because atoms are positively charged, we do not actually touch anything, there is a tiny space between things, otherwise they would merge into a single substance. We actually hover slightly above the ground. Things are not always as they appear. God does appear to be hidden but this is an illusion that God chooses to perpetuate. He/She does not write His/Her name across the sky every morning. Life is a test of faith.
Don’t try to argue with atheists because they are just walking in darkness. Record their one vote against and move on.
In spite of a secular educational system and tons of scientific propaganda, most Americans believe in God. 88% of Americans believe in angels. Even those who say they don’t believe in God, when asked where they go when they die, say “heaven”.
There are two main illusions going on in this thing we call “Reality”. One is that matter is solid when we know that atoms are mostly empty space. Of the stuff in an atom, only one trillionth is stuff, the rest is empty space. But things seem solid, mostly because the high frame rate of electrons spinning around the nucleus of the atom. The second illusion is that God appears to be hidden. We are really swimming in an ocean of Divine Consciousness but God hides that set of dimensions like an invisible layer in Photoshop. Why would God do this? It is because life is a test of faith. We are to believe without seeing. Jesus said as much. The atheists votes to the contrary, life is a test of faith. We only have eternal life by being partners with God.