Dawson Bethrick presented an interesting argument against the existence of Christian God, in his awesome blog: Incineration Presuppositionalism. The argument which he believes “theists will have a very difficult time overcoming”, in A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist post, goes as follows:
Premise 1: That which is imaginary is not real.
Premise 2: If something is not real, it does not actually exist.
Premise 3: If the god of Christianity is imaginary, then it is not real and therefore does not actually exist.(1&2)
Premise 4: The god of Christianity is imaginary.
Conclusion: Therefore, the god of Christianity is not real and therefore does not actually exist.(4&3)
This is a valid argument and thus if premise 1-4 are true, Bethrick would have succeeded in showing that God, as believed by Christians, does not exist. Are all premises true? Is it a sound case? I think not.
Christians would probably agree that premise 1-3 are true, but 4 is false. Since Bethrick’s case heavily depends on premise 4, did he succeed in showing that Christian God is imaginary? Again I think not.
Bethrick offered “no less than 13 points of evidence” to show that premise 4 is true in another article: The Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism. The problem is that even if all 13 points, which are not evidences but assertions, were true, they are irrelevant.
Showing that anyone can imagine supernatural beings, and that followers learn about their gods in written stories, and believe them by faith, and the “failure of religious philosophy to provide the mind with a sound metaphysical theory which securely and reliably allows the adherent to distinguish between reality and imagination” et cetera, even if true, does not show that Christian God is imaginary.
If Christian God exists, then it does not matter if anyone can imagine supernatural beings or that Christians learn about this God from written stories and accept them by faith et cetera, because what matters is not the epistemological status of subjects(i.e. Christian) but the ontological status of an object (i.e. God). It is here where Bethrick, thus, does not offer justification to think that premise 4 is true.
Bethrick went on to contend,
Ultimately, there is a single question that any atheist who encounters a pushy apologist need pose. And that question is:
When I imagine your god, how is what I am imagining not imaginary?
Since we have no alternative to imagining the Christian god when believers tell us about it, this question is most appropriate, especially since we’re expected to believe that it is real. If theists think we have an alternative to imagining their god, what is that alternative, and how is it different from imagination [sic]
I think, even before answering Bethrick’s atheist question, a pushy apologist could simply turn the table around, and reduce the atheist’s question to absurdity with a counter question:
When I imagine there is no god, how is what I am imagining not imaginary?
So, a pushy apologist could contend, since we have no alternative to imagining no god when an atheist tell us about it, this question is also most appropriate, especially since we’re expected to believe that it is real that god does not exist.
Bethrick confuses the verb imagine with its adjective(imagined/ing) thus fails to see that a person could imagine something that is not necessarily imaginary. Imagine as a verb is simply forming a mental image or concept of, while as an adjective is believing something unreal exists. Example I can imagine how my wife would react if I forget our wedding anniversary. Does this follow that her reaction, if I forget our anniversary is imaginary? I do not think so, since if I forget our anniversary, I will bear her full anger, which is real and far from imaginary.
I believe, a pushy apologist could reply: “I want you to imagine(forming mental concept of) my God and I will give you a case to think it is warranted to believe that that God does exist. This, my friend, is why what you are going to imagine is not imaginary but real.” With that a pushy apologist may begin to offer a positive case to show that a belief in God is rationally acceptable position thus not imaginary.
Question: What case would you offer for or against the notion that Christian’s God is imaginary?
Bibliography: Blog: Incineration Presuppositionalism. visited last 26th January 2013: Update: “Bahnsen Burner” is Dawson Bethrick.
Update: Dawson Bethrick lengthly(ca. 8400 words) responded to my case : Prayson Daniel vs. the Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism (January 19, 2013). My ca. 700 words counter response: Bethrick’s Unsuccessful Case Against Christian God