#42 – Should we assess the character of an alleged God prior to accepting his moral injunctions?

IMG_2472Imagine a gentleman named Henry knocks on your door one day to inform you that he is the new king over your neighborhood. He also claims he is perfectly just. You ask Henry about his notion of justice, and he informs you that any act that displeases him he deems worthy of many years of torture. You laugh and explain that no just king would ever suggest such an absurd system of justice. Henry scowls and argues “Your ways are not my ways! The fact that you do not understand my justice is no excuse to reject me as king!” You respond “Actually it is. It would be irrational of me to accept as a just king any person who acts unjustly as I perceive it. I shouldn’t abandon my honest understanding of justice whenever someone claims to be just, yet acts contrary to my notion of justice, right?” Henry retorts “But isn’t the threat of many years of torture scary enough to play it safe and accept and submit to a form of justice you find incoherent?” You assure Henry that such threats and the promise that apparent incoherencies you now perceive will be all made coherent if you only accept his claim to be king will not move you. Are you irrational in this response?

Extend your imagination a bit further and imagine two gentlemen are at your door, each claiming to be your legitimate just king. Would it not be wise to test their claims to be just against your own honest understanding of justice? Would it ever be wise to simply accept as king either of the gentlemen without such a test? Is it not even more critical that we assess proposed Gods this way? If a believer in a certain allegedly just God were to you can not test their God against your own notion of justice, what would you say?

Many religious leaders claim their particular God is exempt from an assessment of his degree of justice, love and rationality prior to accepting him as God since their God’s intellect far surpasses your own. Do you find this argument compelling? Do you think any actual just, loving and rational God would fault you for rejecting any God, even if they were the God in question, provided you were honestly weighing their claims against your own understanding of justice, love, rationality or other relevant notions? Do you not agree that any proposed God who would condemn your honest evaluation of his claims against your admittedly fallible understanding of justice could be immediately rejected as impossible due to the absurdity of a God responding to humans so irrationality?

Who are you to question whether God is just? You are the person who must honestly assess all claims before believing those claims, and therefore are exactly the right person to scrutinize every allegedly just, loving and rational God for actual justice, love and rationality.


Note that this argument does not include the notion of moral realism.

Is not accepting a God prior to assessing the claims of that God inherently a dereliction of epistemic duties? Do we not have the obligation to honestly assess the alleged characters of alleged Gods against their alleged behaviors?

You’ll find few Christian leaders who actively promote assessing the character of the God of the Bible against human notions of justice, love, long-suffering, rationality and other qualities any actual God should exhibit. They instead normally suggest our human understanding is so beneath the mind of God, that we should not even attempt to scrutinize the character and actions of the Christian God. Does this ring true to you? Or is it far too similar to the tactics of a con man?

(See also #01.)

P1: Any proposed just God that requires you to believe in him prior to assessing whether his character and actions are truly just is irrational.
P2: An irrational God is impossible.
P3: Many brands of Christianity promote a God who requires you believe in him prior to assessing whether his character and actions are truly just.

Conclusion: Many brands of Christianity are promoting an impossible God.


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