Reading Time: 3 minutes

God moves in mysterious ways.

I’ve spoken to you previously about being at the place where a lot of atheist philosophers and thinkers often get to: where you think that the arguments concerning God are so obvious and so resoundingly conclusive that you kind of lose the impetus. You wonder why so many people still persist with this and then realise that the whole enterprise is dependent upon psychology and social machinations. I look at the world around me, at the moment particularly, and think, “Where is God?” Because she sure as hell doesn’t look like doing much around here right now. Or for the last two thousand years.

And thing is, what you are so often met with is skeptical theism. Because no argument appears to be sound and valid in deductively disproving God (or vice versa, proving God), everything seems to be a case of probability. Take the problem of evil, where if an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God exists, then how can you explain the seemingly gratuitous suffering that occurs in spade-loads around the world? And the answer is, invariably, “Well, there could be a reason. It’s not logically impossible that suffering and OmniGod coexist.” So here are a bunch of possible answers that a Christian could believe in, but even if all of these answers are insufficient, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t another answer that humans haven’t thought about or can’t even access.

It is the fallacy that I often refer to: possibiliter ergo probabiliter. It is possible; therefore, it is probable. Well, it could be the case that God might exist, so, therefore, God exists. All the theist needs is a bit of wriggle room. A wedge. A slight chink of light. Probability appears to be an incoherent concept.

God moves in mysterious ways is, in my opinion, a real copout.

As the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy states of skeptical theism:

Skeptical theism is the view that God exists but that we should be skeptical of our ability to discern God’s reasons for acting or refraining from acting in any particular instance.  In particular, says the skeptical theist, we should not grant that our inability to think of a good reason for doing or allowing something is indicative of whether or not God might have a good reason for doing or allowing something.  If there is a God, he knows much more than we do about the relevant facts, and thus it would not be surprising at all if he has reasons for doing or allowing something that we cannot fathom.

We can’t possibly know the mind of God, so don’t you worry your pretty little head and get on with your life in the knowledge that God exists.

As long as there is a logical get out of jail free card, the theist is alright.

But what really gets me about skeptical theism is the idea that we supposedly can’t access the reasons that God might have for allowing, in this case, untold amounts of suffering. It is this idea that we aren’t clever enough as a collective species to understand a particular reason. We can’t know the mind of God. I call bullshit on this.

It’s not good enough. It’s simply not good enough.

Here we are, dabbling with ideas of quantum physics that my mind can barely grasp in its most basic form, and yet there are minds present on Earth that are able to cope magnificently with such complex ideas and networks of ideas. However, cancer and malaria and plate tectonics coexisting with an all-loving God? No, that’s beyond our ken.

When I look at the world in see Trump and Bolsonaro, Genghis Khan and Hitler, cancer and malaria, tornadoes, droughts and tsunamis, genocide and rampant inequality, I just don’t see God.

But, 2000 years ago (apparently), when Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom, she was turned into a pillar of salt.

But, 2000 years ago (apparently), God struck Uzzah down for steadying the ark of the covenant when the oxen carrying it stumbled

But, 2000 years ago (apparently), God killed a man for ejaculating on the ground instead of impregnating a woman

So on and so forth. You get the picture. God meddled here and there, appeared here and there, killed this person here, slew that person there. And now?

Painful silence.

This song sums it up really quite well. “Since you’ve been away on holiday…” (Their Happy Hollow album is on the money for an atheistic album if ever there was one. Actually, there is one.)

YouTube video


Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook:

A Tippling Philosopher

You can also buy me a cuppa. Or buy some of my awesome ATP merchandise! Please… It justifies me continuing to do this!

Avatar photo

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...