[UPDATE: I removed an analogy because it would have drawn attention away from Noah’s point.
UPDATE #2: In the comments, Scott Sumner objects that I have misunderstood him. I had thought Scott, in his original post, was being tongue-in-cheek, and giving a mock benefit of the doubt to Noah, since it’s crystal clear what Noah is saying in his post. But, I can’t argue with the author telling me what he meant, so there ya go.]
[H]ow does [the God of the Bible] know that there isn’t an even more powerful being – call it “SuperGod” – who has chosen to stay completely hidden up until now? Since the hypothetical SuperGod is, hypothetically, even more powerful than God, there’s no way for God to know that SuperGod does not in fact exist.
Conclusion: The most powerful being in the Universe, whoever that happens to be, will never be certain of His (or Her) status as such.
Now before you reach for the keyboard to write a quick reply (“Of course God knows He’s God, God knows everything, DUH!”), realize that I’m not trying to catch theists with a clever “gotcha”….The most important thing about God is that he chooses to take responsibility for the world.
Think about it. God chooses to create life and humanity, set down laws, punish evil and reward good, send people to various afterlives, and dictate the fate of nations. He doesn’t waste time wondering if there is a SuperGod somewhere out there. He doesn’t need to know for certain that He’s the most powerful being in the Universe; all He knows is that He’s the most powerful being in the neighborhood.
Kind of like you and me.
Some people claim to receive direct communication from God. Others claim to witness miracles. But most of us go through life without seeing direct evidence of the God of the Bible. Instead, we go through life wondering if we’re the most powerful beings in the Universe. And we have to decide whether to take responsibility for those less powerful than us – animals, children, the weak and the poor.
There’s a strong instinct to abdicate that responsibility – to look at things like global warming, poverty, environmental destruction, human misery in all its forms and say “God will take care of that.” For some people it’s not God, but “the free market”, or “evolution”, or “history”. But even if you believe in those things, you don’t really know that they’ll make everything right, any more than God knows whether a hidden SuperGod is guiding all of His actions.
The truth is, whether you like it or not, it’s all on you. The responsibility for those weaker than yourself is not on God’s or the free market’s or history’s or evolution’s head, it’s on your head. So think hard about what you’re going to do with all your power.
(1) Noah acknowledges the obvious problem with his premise: namely, that one of the defining attributes of the God of the Bible is His omniscience. With the ellipses above, you may think I’m leaving out Noah’s response, but I’m not. Noah gives no response, except to say that his purpose isn’t to make fun of religion. OK, fine, but it still affects the quality of your blog post, if its initial premise is totally wrong, right?
(2) Scott Sumner pointed out the ironic fact that when Noah talks of people taking “personal responsibility,” he doesn’t actually mean, people taking personal responsibility for these problems. No, what Noah clearly means, is that we should every four years go vote for politicians who “have the power” to deal with these issues, in the way Noah likes.
(3) Noah isn’t a socialist, and he probably favors a “market solution” to climate change, such as a carbon tax. So it would be funny if a Marxist or someone who recommends, say, that the EPA directly order specific energy production techniques, make fun of Noah’s wimpy evasion of his power over food production and climate change. Noah would rather “the market” deliver clothes and food to people, rather than us doing it individually (by enacting a socialist State). He would rather “the market” figure out the most efficient way to curb carbon emissions, with an $x/ton tax. What a coward!
(4) In conclusion, by, “The truth is, whether you like it or not, it’s all on you,” what Noah really means is, “You should agree with my specific policy conclusions on these important issues.”