​The Pragmatic Argument About “God”

1) “God” exists in the human vocabulary.
2) Human reason is restricted by vocabulary.
3) God transcends the human vocabulary.
4) Therefore:
    a) “God” in the human vocabulary has no referent.
    b) All God-narratives are metaphysical sentences.
    c) God-narratives are only meaningful (not true or false)

Can we talk about God at all and know what we mean, or should we know what we mean when we talk about “God”?

see:

Fr. Herbert McCabe, God Matters, pg 6
A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth And Logic, pg 117
Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume 1, pg 615
George Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, pg 26

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7 thoughts on “​The Pragmatic Argument About “God”

  1. Hi Bro, it’s me :0.

    But that’s exactly why Jesus came to Earth, because people need a savior that triumphs over sin, rending the partition between man and God forever, and by then the Holy Spirit can open the eyes of people to understand the things that were previously darkened to them. 🙂

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      that’s not at all related to the article.

      relating your comments to the article, i’d say you have a narrative about the mystery known as “god” but that in fact, all such narratives relate only, ultimately, to human well-being. in that case, “god” is a set of sentences which aspire to address some problem of humanity; be that “sin” or cancer or bad weather.

  2. Greg says:

    Might it be possible that human logic is not the starting point for all truth? Might it be that some truth is transcendent and humans are on a long journey toward grasping that truth?

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      logic is just thinking grammatically, greg; a formal description of how people think. so no, human deliberation and experience is required for asserting something is the case. does the “truth” transcend? no. all propositions which are justified to be believed as descriptive of some case is labeled “true”. “true” is only a word. “truth” is deliberated and as such, cannot transcend human beings. “truth” as existential resonance (ie aesthetics, beauty, simplicity, elegance, etc.) may transcend description, but not experience itself.

      we can only ever be accused of having experiences we try to describe. there’s no grasping at some experience. there’s only the attempts at trying to explain and describe it.

      a transcendent god is nothing we can experience, by definition. an imminent god can be experienced, however because such an experience is also explainable completely in terms of natural causation, no one can know of they’ve experienced god at all.

      make sense?

  3. Greg says:

    Is it provable that human reasoning is restricted to vocabulary? Certainly, God narratives should be meaningful, but is it provable that God narratives are neither true nor false? I think we are definitely limited in what we know about God. I also think it’s unfortunate that many of us too often speak about things of God with dogmatic certainty that cannot be reasonably justified. By default, we use anthropomorphic language to seek to understand and communicate God stuff. I think that creates limitations that override any attempt to emphatically assert things about God. I don’t think that precludes the potential for communicating truth about God narratives, only the WAY we convey what we believe that truth might be.

    • Steven Hoyt says:

      yes, greg. we are symbolic thinkers. i’m not merely talking about words and sentences.

      I’d it provable god-talk is neither true nor false? yes. it is absolutely true. if you want me to explain, i will, however, read the entire history entailed in the apophatic tradition.

      on what are sentences about god based? as transcendent, good is beyond us completely. as imminent, good is no different than the ordinary, the “every day”. well, of course that’s all anthropomorphic and in that case, nothing about god and any “truth” in these speech acts disappears because it has no signified or, mooted because we’re speaking about ourselves but day we’re talking about god.

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