Shand’s (Mis)conception Of Omnipotence

God's Hand

In Probing Shand’s Refutation of the Existence of God, I contended that John Shand, associate lecturer in Philosophy at The Open University, attacked a Straw God and committed an informal fallacy of composition. In this article I addressed his (mis)understanding of omnipotence. His (mis)understanding of omniscience and omnipresence are addressed in the next article. Continue reading

Bethrick’s Unsuccessful Case Against Christian God


Though Dawson Bethrick judged my critique: Bethrick: A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist? of his case: A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist, as failed decisively, his ca. 8400 words counter response is a model of civility, which both atheists and theists would do well to emulate. It is an honor to offer my critique of his counter response and comments, as I expound more why I think his case is unsuccessful.

Before I begin, it is of first importance to define our terms. Concise Oxford English Dictionary defined the verb imagine as:

1. form a metal image or concept of. [often as adjective imagined] believe (something unreal) to exist.

2. believe to be so; suppose.

And Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defined an adjective imaginary as existing only in the imagination: lacking factual reality.

What I think is the core error in Bethrick response, Prayson Daniel vs. the Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism, is his failure to disguise between epistemological status of subject and ontological reality of an object. He was unhappy with my dismissal of his 13 points, even if all 13 points were assumed to be true, as irrelevant on this ground.

Example to justify my dismissal: Jane Doe asked John Doe, how many people did John think were in the library. John looked at his watch and saw 2:10 p.m. and creatively imagined 210 people. He replied Jane: “There are 210 people in the library.”

Is John’s imagining imaginary? Is John’s imagining existing only in the imagination: lacking factual reality? Yes if the amount of people in the library is not 210, because his belief lacks factual reality, and no, if the amount of people is 210, thus John’s belief does have factual reality.

Thus I did not have to address Bethrick’s 13 points because I assumed that even if all his 13 points  were true, they are all irrelevant. As from my example, showing how John creatively imagined the amount of people in the library, even if true, is irrelevant to decide whether it is true or false that there are 210 people in the library because what matter is not the epistemological status of subjects but the ontological status of an object. If John’s imagined amount lacks factual reality then it is imaginary, if it does have factual reality then it is not imaginary.

Simply put, it is not about subject’s epistemology [i.e. John’s creative way of knowing or Christians power of imagining things] but object’s ontology [amount of people in the library or existence of God] that decides whether or not a subject’s imagined object is imaginary.

To claim that John’s imagined amount is imaginary, we need to show that the amount of people in the library is not 210, and thus John lacks factual reality to his belief. With a similar reason, for Bethrick’s case to succeed, he need to show that Christian God does not exist, and thus Christians lacks factual reality to their beliefs.

Bethrick denies this distinction in his comment:

I would say that if John “imagined 210” people, he imagined 210 people regardless of how many people were there, regardless of whether or not he later found out how many people were there, regardless of whether or not it turned out to be in fact 210 people. Imagination is still imagination.[sic] (Bethrick 31.1.13 2:52 PM)

Bethrick’s reasoning redefines, the dictionary meaning of imaginary, something existing only in the imagination: lacking factual reality, to  something existing in the imagination: regardless of it lacking factual reality or not.

To illustrate the absurdity of  Bethrick’s position: It is 1880, John Doe imagined that his pregnant wife, Jane Doe is going to have a baby boy, while Jane Doe imagined a baby girl. Even thought both imagined, both imagined gender cannot be said to be imaginary since either John or Jane imagined gender  lacks factual reality. If it is a boy, then John’s imagined gender is not imaginary, while Jane’s is and verse. For Bethrick, it does not matter, both Jane and John imagined gender are imaginary: existing only in the imagination:lacking factual reality, which I find absurd.

It is for this reasons I reckoned Bethrick’s  proof  against existence of Christian God unsuccessful until he succeeds to show that it is the case that Christian God does not exist, thus Christian God is imaginary.

I will encourage you to read and reread Bethrick’s case and responses to my critique. Try to understand first before you agree or disagree with his argument. Think. Think. Think.

Question: Is showing how John Doe got to know there are 210 people in the library to discredit his belief that there are 210 a genetic fallacy?

Update: I added an illustration John and Jane imagined gender to show absurdity in Bethrick’s understanding of imagine and imaginary.


Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Photocover credit: Imaginary Transit ii Copyrighted Citylab 2013

Bethrick: A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist?


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

Atheism: Insufficient Evidence For Belief in God?

Andrew David's Russell

A belief that atheism is true because of insufficient evidence for belief in God is feeble and unwarranted. Kai Nielsen, an atheist philosopher, correctly explained that “[t]o show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false”(Nielsen 1971: 143-4).

Even if an atheist succeed in showing that the theist’s case for existence of God is a failure, this by itself does not confirm the truthfulness of atheism. “All the proofs of God’s existence may fail,” explained Nielsen, “but it still may be the case that God exists”(ibid)

If all proofs of God’s existence fail, and there are no evidence for the belief in God, then agnosticism, not atheism, is a warranted position unless a successive case is give against the existence of God.

The sum total of the probability that God does exist, P(T) with that of God does not exist, P(not-T) must equal 1.  An agnostic gives both P(T) and P(not-T) the values .5. When theist C offer evidences for the existence of God, C increases the value of P(T) thus, decreasing  P(not-T). So if say, the probability that God exists given background information viz., cosmological, teleological, ontological, moral and resurrection of Jesus  argument is .7, (thus P(not-T) = .3), and an atheist A succeed in showing that all C arguments for P(T) fails, then A reduced P(T) back to .5. A needs to offer a case against the existence of God to increase P(not-T), which will decrease P(T), to be justified in believing that God does not exist.

Redefining atheism as “lack of belief in God” fails, I believe, because “lack of belief in God”, by itself, only shows a psychological state of a subject and not the reality of outside world. It does not show whether God exist or not. This redefinition fails because it shifts the discussion’s focus away from ontology of an object(i.e. God) to epistemology of a subject.(i.e an atheist). Example: John Doe may have a lack of belief that Jane Doe is having an affair, but that does not show if Jane Doe is having an affair or not. She may be having an affair even though John Does lacks a belief that she is having an affair.

Question: When is absence of evidence evidence of absence?


Nielsen Kai (1971) Reason and Practice. New York: Harper & Row

Cover photo-credit: Andrew David

How Are 400,000 Variants or Errors In the New Testament Explained?

Dr. Michael Kruger, Associate Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and Dr. Ed Gravely , Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary explained the 400,000 variants or error found in New Testament as they answer Dr. Bart Ehrman’s  significant questions about the reliability of the Bible.

Dr. Michael Kruger – “How do we explain the Bible’s 400,000 errors?”

Dr. Ed Gravely – “Aren’t there 400,000 Variants or Errors in the New Testament?”

For Much More: 

Christians Must Be Hated

“It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but actually to be one”

-Ignatius (To the Romans 3:2)

Are you hated by the world? If you are a Christian, and the world does not hate you, I believe if I may, sadly inform you that you are not a Christian. You are merely called a Christian, but you are actually not one. Being a Christian, “a follower of the anointed one”, is not only professing to the truthfulness of Christianity but also a lifestyle that imitates Christ Jesus.

Apostle John records Jesus saying: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”(John 7:7). The context to which this Jesus’ saying is coming out, is that of his half brothers, who the Apostle remarked did not even believed in Jesus, pose him to go to Judea and twitter himself publicly at the Jews Feast of Booths, which is celebration of the feast of ingathering observed at the end of the year (Exod. 23:16; Exod. 34:22)

Jesus answered his skeptical half-brothers with a reply  like this: The world loves those who speak what it longs and dearly wants to hear: it’s O.K., it’s O.K.! You are fine! Everything is going to be fine! The world loves those who “claim” to be Christians yet appraise and approve its immoral actions and behavior and hates those who testify about its evil.

If you are a Christian, and the world listens to you, then examine yourself to see whether you are truly what you claim to be. In First Epistle of John, a letter that was generally written to congregations across Asia Minor (now Turkey), John warned Christian that there are “Christian” who are not “ Christian”: “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us.”(1 John 4:5-6)

Christ Jesus was hated for speaking against the evilness of the world. As a true follower of Christ, practicing his teaching and lives a life-style that reflects that you are in Christ, being hated by the world is guarantied. You ought to be hated. You must be hated.

In all this, take courage in these words of warning from the one who loves you: “ If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”(John 15:18–19)

Be a Christian, “Keep on praying”for others too, for there is a chance of their being converted and getting to God. Let them, then, learn from you at least by your actions. Return their bad temper with gentleness; their boasts with humility; their abuse with prayer. In the face of their error, be “steadfast in the faith.” Return their violence with mildness and do not be intent on getting your own back. By our patience let us show we are their brothers, intent on imitating the Lord, seeing which of us can be the more wronged, robbed, and despised. Thus no devil’s weed will be found among you; but thoroughly pure and self-controlled, you will remain body and soul united to Jesus Christ.”(Ignatius’ To the Ephesians 10:1-3)

Go out Christians and be hated! Speak the truth with love and gentleness. Go out, Go be hated.