Monday, December 22, 2008

God as Placebo

This is going to be short and sweet as this was simply an idea that fell on my plate over the weekend, I chewed on it, and now I want to spit it out.

Really what’s being talked about here is a definition for God, and the problem with that is, once one defines God he gives himself the burden of accounting for that definition. So if I say that God is some transcendental all powerful being (whereas there’s a certain sense in that), so what, one can’t prove that. All one is saying by appealing to transcendentalism is appealing to a definition that is beyond our ability to know and comprehend, which is fine enough I suppose, but again, who cares? It’s a meaningless definition. We all know well enough what transcendental means, we know how to use it as a piece of rhetoric just as we do the word “absolute”, however our simple rhetorical use of a word doesn’t grant it’s existence, it simply grants that we don’t know something; and if we don’t know something, why not just leave it at that?

So then, God as placebo; at first that has a certain ring to it, but then on the other hand it seems a bit reductionist and/or something an atheist would say as in, “You just believe in fairies.” Not only that, but if the theist takes this stance then he’s forfeited the purpose of his belief. In other words, suppose you’re sick with something requiring antibiotics so you head off to the doctors. When you arrive the doctor diagnosis you and he writes you up a prescription, however as your leaving he states, “Oh and by the way, this really isn’t medicine, it’s a placebo, a sugar pill.” Now, we all know that in many cases placebo’s work, but they only work if the person taking them doesn’t know it’s a placebo; as a result, for a Christian to make the argument that God is mere placebo is to make a self refuting statement that essentially renders his belief not just meaningless, but useless.

If God is a placebo, you may as well become an atheist

Again, I find no real sense in defining God, it’s the principles which are described under that name which are important in so far as they’re application in life.

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