Yo, God! sells a mechanical God Detector which helps people to determine God’s immanence without relying on ambiguous signs such as the presence of Jesus’ face on a tortilla, or finding a turnip shaped like a cross. As this seemed like a potentially useful device, I was about to order one, when suddenly I realized the device has a fatal design problem. I’ve written the following question to the manufacturer, which I am hoping will soon be answered in their FAQ.
Dear Yo God! : The dial on your device has two extremes: Yes and No. On one of your pages you say that the detector can’t prove that God does not exist. So why is the default position of the dial “No?” Should the detector not register agnostic (i.e. flat, or in the middle) until it detects either God’s presence or, conversely, her absence? I guess this is really a user interface question: Why does the default reading imply God’s positive absence rather than simply the lack of any detection?
Update: I have received a carefully worded response from the manufacturer of the God Detector on this matter. Read More for details.
Hi Scot. By default, it says there is no God who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and wants us to know He exists. And one might argue that if there is eternal punishment for not believing He exists, that an all-loving God would want us to know he exists. I know there are complications with this argument, but I see the counter-argument as conjuring up more complicated plans and motives of God so that he can be all-loving and not move the dial (e.g., God requires that we believe in him via faith, i.e., that our belief in him be irrational. …but then what’s the point of disputing a rational argument?). So, I’d say it shows that the traditional God does not exist. It doesn’t show that an infinite number of other kinds of Gods don’t exist, for example, a God that is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful except He can’t penetrate glass or aluminum. We can be agnostic about all those Gods, but my feeling is that it’d be kind of foolish. Do we really want to take seriously the claim that we don’t know if there is a God who’s all-powerful but can’t penetrate glass or aluminum? Maybe, but only in the same way we can’t know for certain that the background plot of the Matrix movie is actually true, and I certainly wouldn’t profess that. Thanks for writing.