Sunday, February 12, 2012

Is the question of God relative

 I would have thought that if two people hold opposing beliefs about the existence of God, that either God exists (in which case the person who believes in God has it right), or God does not exist (in which the person who says that God does not exist is correct). The question of God doesn't look relative at all. It may be difficult, but just because something is difficult to decide doesn't make it relative. Saying "What you believe is not true" is not a judgment about the person who holds the belief, it is a judgment about which belief is true. 


B. Prokop said...

I think we're talking apples and oranges here. They just both happen to be labeled "questions", but it doesn't make them the same thing.

I can ask, "Is there a car parked in the driveway right now?" and be confident that it can be answered yes or no, and that one of those answers is the right one. But if I ask, "Which is the better movie? Still Walking, or Summer Hours?", I'll get all manner of answers, with a lot of ambiguity about which one is "correct".

Now I am in no way arguing for moral relativism here (see my posting on the thread immediately below this one), but that still does not put questions of morality in the same box as questions about existence/non-existence.

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't say it was. Some people actually say that the question of God is relative, since it can't be proved one way or the other.

William said...

Searle's distinction between things that are metaphysically subjective because they have to be experienced by a person to be real, and things that are epistemologically subjective because people cannot generally decide their truth, applies here, I think.

Crude said...

An interesting angle I've seen re: relativity and God is the claim that the existence of Gods or gods is relative since what qualifies as a 'god' is under dispute.

Do the mormons believe in God? Well, we're talking about a very powerful, eternally existing physical entity (or, I hear, succession of entities?). That sure isn't the God of classical theism. Is it a god at all? Depends on who you talk to.

My favorite example is Nick Bostrom's theory. What if we're living in a simulated universe? Bostrom himself isn't sure whether to regard the programmer or beings in control of the simulation 'gods' in that case. (In fact, he claims someone was converted from atheism to agnosticism upon hearing his argument.) Such gods would be more powerful than Zeus ever was in many, possibly all, ways. Yet man, they sure are odd.

Papalinton said...

If the existence of a god can't be proved one way or the other, whether god is relative or otherwise may perhaps be the wrong question. More germane to the point perhaps, "Is the question of god relevant?"

William said...

"Is the question of god relevant?"

Strange that you would ask that one, since it seems to be your chosen axe to grind :-)