The Knowability of God
guest post by Dr. Everett Piper*
The YouTube video Putting Faith in Its Place, which at present has nearly half a million views, uses the analogy of a closed cube to try to prove that we cannot know the unknowable. More directly, this video asks the question: Can we actually know anything about the existence of God? Isn’t it impossible to argue for the “knowability” of something that by definition can’t be known?
Dr. John Mark Reynolds, in his essay titled Plato: Lover of Truth, Beauty, and the Good argues that the human heart hungers for “rightness” and this very desire is evidence of the existence of an ultimate standard that is ultimately “right.” Plato called such a standard “love” and defended its transcendent and objective value because “love” must be the love of “something and not nothing.” All human beings have a desire for a bigger “something” and this “deep longing for justice and beauty must have an end…” In the words of Plato, “love” cannot exist without an ultimate object of its affection.
Putting Faith in Its Place argues the opposite. Its author curiously seems to suggest that curiosity proves there is nothing about which to be curious – an argument that, in my view, is somewhat akin to saying hunger proves there is no such thing as food or a draught proves there is no such thing as water.
I agree that the concept of the closed cube as portrayed in the video is very thought provoking, and, yes, it does remind us that we do “see through the glass darkly” but the very desire to know what is in “the box”— to see more clearly — proves not that the box is empty but, to the contrary, that something must be in the box as the object of our desire. If everything is relative and if there is no such thing as a knowable truth, then why spend any time trying to prove that your argument against my truth is true? Why contend for the rightness of your argument if there is no standard of rightness to prove that I am wrong? The entire presentation of the neo-atheist is built upon the presupposition that the final answer is that there is no answer — A self-refuting claim if ever there was one.
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Bottom line: The unavoidable pretext for any argument is that someone is right and someone else is wrong, and the producer of Putting Faith in Its Place takes ten minutes to ironically prove this point by essentially saying he is right in condemning those who think they are right. In the end, we are left with this question: Which argument measures up? Which position comes closer to the mark? Which one (his, mine or yours) is “more right,” i.e. closer to the truth, than the other?
In asking all of these questions, we must acknowledge a measuring rod outside of those things being measured or we can do no measuring. An appeal assumes the existence of a Judge. We all know intuitively that there can be no contest without some rules of engagement, and there must be a referee to make the final call or none of us can play the game. Wouldn’t it be foolish to drive all the way to Oklahoma City to watch the Thunder play if there isn’t some sort of “standard” and “judge” or “referee” to make sense out of the entire exercise?
While trying to refute an objective, immutable, unchangeable, absolute, reality (i.e. God) the producer of this video has actually proven the opposite. He has to assume there is a Logos for there to be logic. He has to assume that there is a Law for there to be lies. He has to assume that there is Righteousness if he is to justify his righteous indignation. He has to assume that he is right if he is to argue that I am wrong. He has to believe in truth for him to claim that someone else’s beliefs are false. His words are simply a worthless expense of breath unless these standards come from somewhere OUTSIDE of the temporal human mind (his or mine). His epistemological and ontological nihilism implodes upon itself. It is self-refuting. He would have no energy or desire to prove me wrong if he didn’t believe he could PROVE that he is right and his assumption of such “provable rightness” may be the best PROOF that God is God and he is not.
*Dr. Everett Piper has served as the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University since August of 2002. His credentials include a B.A. from Spring Arbor University, a M.A. from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. He is an Adjunct Scholar for the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, and a current member of the Council for National Policy. He has written routinely for numerous publications including the Examiner Enterprise, Crosswalk.com, Bullypulpit.com, Politicalmavens.com, Tulsa’s Community Spirit, and Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint magazine. Dr. Piper has a daily radio broadcast, titled Ideas Matter and he is the author of two books: The Wrong Side of the Door: Why Ideas Matter and Why I Am a ‘Liberal’ and Other Conservative Ideas.