Sunday, December 29, 2013

Immaterial Concepts Do Not A God Make

Not quite up for regular posting yet, but here is my take on why apologists using the "existence" immaterial concepts as rationalization for why an immaterial God is possible fails.

A popular thought in religious apologetics lately is that there are examples of things that are immaterial in which atheists can't deny and that these things make an immaterial deity possible.

Here's the problem:

The examples of these immaterial things aren't things, they are concepts. Yes, thoughts are immaterial--they are also fundamentally different from an active agent like God. Thoughts are completely dependent on a thinker, but to call the thinker an immaterial consciousness analogous to God is just as fallacious. The prerequisite for consciousness is a brain. To say that God requires no material prerequisite is special pleading and contrary to all evidence.

I floated this take on Google+ and it spawned 100+ comments. Here's the link.


  1. This seems to me to be similar to the god existing outside of our space and time. If this god exists then you are either a deist or your god can be tested.

    Like I recently posted apologetics is serious mental gymnastics. I think the more you think about apologetics to believe in a god the more confused you actually become.

  2. Come on, you have to take that to the presuppositionalists, they hate that kind of stuff. :)

  3. You're correct that the reality of immaterial objects, such as concepts, does not prove the existence of an immaterial God. Yet, the existence of said concepts does call naturalism into question. For how can purely material processes be the catalyst for immaterial processes? Moreover, how can the physical, which is always particular, give rise to the mental which can contemplate universals? If the mind was purely the result of physical processes, then how can it entertain any notions which are not particular, as universals are?

  4. Don't forget that there is evidence that thoughts are material.

    1. Good article, yet it doesn't really seem to infer (at least not to me) that thoughts are material; it merely demonstrates that cognitive activity is greatly affected by neural activity, but this has already been known for thousands of years. Obviously the mental is dependent in some sense on the brain. Yet, there are aspects of thought that are, in principle, not explicable in physicalist terms.

      Take my concept of triangularity. Such a concept is perfect: a trilateral polygon with three straight sides who's angles add up to exactly 180 degrees. Then, our concept of triangularity is also universal, that is, common to many. When I predicate triangularity of a specific object, I am claiming that it participates in the universality of triangularity.

      Yet, all material triangles (and all material things) are not universal but, rather, particular. Each triangle is either scalene, equilateral or isosceles. But, my universal concept of triangularity is none of these but, rather subsumes them. Moreover, all triangles fail to participate in triangularity perfectly. The segments of any triangle are not straight and the angles do not add up to 180 degrees. Therefore, our concepts and thoughts about triangles cannot be material, for material things are only particulars, yet our thoughts are universal.