No offense to my readers of a more philosophical bent, but I’ve spent a lot of time lately listening to religious debates where philosophy plays a large part, and frankly I’m not at all impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying philosophy isn’t useful, it’s just not universally useful. There are places where it can be of great application and others where I just don’t see it’s value.
Unfortunately, one of the places where I keep seeing it used and I really think it shouldn’t be is with regard to reality. Let me explain. There are many debates between religious philosophers and non-religious philosophers where each side essentially tries to argue God into or out of existence via logical discourse. One side presents premises for why they think God is real and the other side presents premises for why they think God is false.
Neither side is making a case why God is actually true or false though. You can argue until you’re blue in the face, something either exists or it does not exist. That is, however, the feeling I get in some of these debates. Take the recent debate between Justin Vacula and Dr. Ronda Chervin.
As much as I like and respect Justin and what he does, nothing in that debate actually has a chance in hell of settling the question. Both sides are just arguing for or against characteristics of an imaginary man in the sky. Why argue about the characteristics of God when you haven’t demonstrated God exists in the first place? The title of the debate is “Does God Exist?” and neither side ended the debate having demonstrated a thing. Let’s be honest, that’s where virtually every religious debate ever held ends up. You could have a debate on “Does Harry Potter Exist?” with virtually the same arguments, debating on the supposed characteristics of Harry Potter, but in the end, neither side would actually have defended the factual existence of Harry Potter, and, to be realistic, Harry Potter no more exists than God does.
So if a philosophical debate for the existence of God is no better than a philosophical debate for the existence of Sauron, what’s the point in engaging in it? Is it just a way of exercising one’s intellectual muscle? Does it actually accomplish anything? I think not which is why I shoot down all philosophical arguments for God immediately. It doesn’t actually show that God factually exists and to be honest, that’s really all that matters.
It’s just an exercise in philosophical masturbation.