It does no work because it purportedly does all work

Anthony Grayling said more about this possibility of evidence for god question.

I don’t think that every effort has been made to look for evidence and none has turned up…You and Richard think it’s an empirical matter whether there are deities (or fairies? goblins? consider why you think the latter are zoological non-starters) and I think it’s a matter of coherence of the concept…

And, I find, so do I. The more I think about it the more I think that.

The point is that ‘god’ is not like ‘ether’ – it is not amenable to empirical investigation, and does not occupy a slot in some systematic framework of thinking about the world that might be improved on in the light of better theory or observation. It does no work because it purportedly does all work; like a contradiction it entails anything whatever; it is consistent with all evidence and none.

Exactly! By which I mean, that’s what I would have said if only I’d thought of it. It does no work because it purportedly does all work; that’s beautiful, and exact.

But ‘god’ is not like ‘yeti’ (which might – so to say: yet? – be found romping about the Himalayas), it is like ‘square circle’. Trying to explain to someone who thinks that ‘god’ is like ‘yeti’ (namely, you) let alone to someone who thinks ‘god’ is like ‘Barack Obama’ (names an actual being, as Christians and Muslims do) that it is actually not like ‘yeti’ but  like ‘square circle’ and that nothing can count as evidence for square circles, is harder work for ‘god’ than ‘square circle’ only because religious folk have been squaring the circle for so long!

Furthermore, “god” is like square circles and round triangles and octagonal hexagons and flat cubes and married bachelors. There are different versions of god, to say the least, and there is no univerally agreed set of minimal items that belong on the god-list, so there is no core “god” concept that we can try to match to possible evidence.

It’s dead easy to imagine evidence of a yeti. That wouldn’t even surprise me much, because the Himalayas are difficult terrain, and some animals are very good at hiding, and there is more than one species of great ape.

It’s also easy to imagine evidence of a species that would be superior to humans. That’s child’s play. But “god” is a whole different territory, with built-in hand-wavy stuff that make it as Anthony says consistent with all evidence and none. It’s Intelligently Designed that way.

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