The graphic below highlights the differences in two very different approaches to the “God” question.
The upper half reflects how many individuals approach the assessment of which (if any) God exists. This assessment begins with the notion that it is likely that “Deity A” exists. This is typically the God of one’s upbringing. If we begin with the assumption that this default God is most probable, each time a legitimate challenge to the notion of “Deity A” is presented, we tend to subconsciously avoid stepping away from this default God long enough to honestly reflect on the challenge. There may be several subconscious assumptions at play, including the following:
- It is wrong to test God.
- The answer is found in God’s mysteriousness.
- I can’t be wrong when my God feels so real.
- Seriously doubting makes God angry.
- I couldn’t tolerate a godless world.
- The millions of believers in my God can’t be wrong.
- I can’t reject my God unless there is a proper alternative.
- These questions are of the Devil.
These often subconscious filters prevent an honest assessment of the default God in the face of legitimate questions.
The lower half of the graphic depicts an assessment made without the assumptions listed above, and without a biased preference for the default God. It assesses relevant questions as a group instead of the linear approach which often results in an illegitimate resetting of the probabilities.
This more rigorous assessment does not default to the “best explanation” (see “Supplementary E”), but instead assigns a degree of credence to each known option. This more nuanced conclusion falls in line with the notion of rational belief in which the degree of belief maps to the degree of the evidence for each candidate God. This assessment also reserves a probability for a possibly unknown or overlooked “Deity X”.
And this nuanced conclusion ought not be static. A diligent seeker will reevaluate their stance regularly, and will adjust their degrees of credence as the evidence demands.