Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Apples and oranges

I don't make the atheist/skeptic blog-tour too much (heck, since Lent, I don't make much of any blog tours), but I did come across an analogy on one such blog that aims to undermine the notion of finding God. As the skeptical blogger puts it:

This is what my life is like. I have four apples. At least I’m pretty sure there are only four, I only bought four, I can only see four and there is no reason to suppose I have any more. There could be five I suppose, but I see no reason to think so. The trouble is, everyone else thinks there are five. I ask people for evidence that there are five apples. I ask them what reason they have to suppose there are five, or to show me how they counted five, and these are the replies I get [thus follows a list of apparently worthless replies]...

I replied as follows:

If I may, the analogy is actually quite skewed. You seem to forget that the question of material existence and God, whom I presume to be the missing 5th apple, is a question of comparing apples and oranges. Life is apples, but not ONLY apples. God is the orange to the monotony of our apples. More importantly, the "point" of God is that he is the very basis on which we say our life is more than just apples. As the source of life, he is the moreness of life.

Alas, in this analogy, the narrow focus on apples only leads us all too conveniently to forget to ask where we got the four apples in the first place. There are such things as apple trees and THEREFORE we all know what apples are and where they come from. God is not simply another apple, nor is he simply an orange, but is in fact the rational, metaphysical and moral basis -- the apple tree -- by which we count, recognize, and enjoy apples. Soren Kierkegaard, Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstoff are very helpful in this line of thought. I also suggest you have a look at Thomas Dubay's _The Evidential Power of Beauty_ and Stanley Jaki's _Means to Message_.

Finally, God is not a 5th apple, because God is a person. Hence, the fundamental error in the analogy is that rather than looking for the missing 5th apple, believers are looking for (and have found) the Person himself that provides us so graciously with all our apples. The inherently personal nature of the world cries out for a Person in and above the world, just as the inherently tree-based nature of apples cries out for a source AS WELL AS a goal which all apples (seeds) possess the ability to achieve. Apples are gifts and all gifts are personal. Having eyes for apples only, whether 4 or 40, is not God's fault, but ours.

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