Theists don’t all believe “in the same God”: A demonstration.

June 20, 2006 | By | 1 Reply More

It’s time to dispel the notion that theists all believe “in the same God.” Based on my experience, they don’t all believe in the same God.  Yes, they use the same label, “God,” but that label hides the numerous striking and intense disagreements believers have with each other.

From now on, when anyone claims that all believers believe in the same God, I’m going to ask that person to answer this handy list of twenty questions with regard to their God:

  1. Is your God a man or a woman (or something like an XXY or XYY?
  2. Does your God have a son named Jesus?
  3. Is your God a sentient caring being or just a first cause?
  4. Did your God inspire the writings of the Bible?
  5. Does your God deem the Catholic Church the only legitimate church?
  6. Does your God hold that non-believers are unfit for public office?
  7. Did your God provide for an afterlife, a heaven and a hell?
  8. Does your God speak English?
  9. Does your God send gay people to hell
  10. Does your God prefer the Red Sox or the Yankees (or some other team)?
  11. Did your God rig nature to evolve new species without further intervention by Him?
  12. Was your God offended when He saw Janet Jackson’s nipple on TV?
  13. Does your God literally require that any person doing any work on the Sabbath “shall be put to death”? [See Exodus 35:2]
  14. Did your God want Terri Schiavo kept on life support?
  15. Does your God consider an un-implanted blastocyst to be a human baby that should have the same rights as a three-year old child?
  16. Does your God approve of you buying expensive tickets to professional sports events when that same money could be used to save the lives of dozens of children living in abject poverty?
  17. Does your God think only men should serve as clergy?
  18. On whose side was your God, the Hutus or the Tutsis?
  19. Does your God approve of the way the U.S. treats suspected terrorists?
  20. Does your God require believers to belong to an organized religion to get to heaven?

If I can get a lot of believers to fill out this form, they will inevitably do so in a wide variety of ways.  And they can’t all be right, of course. That this list of questions would be answered in a wide variety of ways would strongly suggest that there are actually numerous Gods.  [I will call this my second demonstration to show the existence of numerous gods.  See http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=147]. 

Oh, I suppose there is one other explanation:  different ways of answering this list of questions could also suggest that there is one God but He/She is not knowable.  Believers won’t like that possibility at all, however.  That would require that they become God-adjective agnostics.  Although they could believe in God they wouldn’t be able to say much of anything about Him/Her.  If they couldn’t affirm any God-adjectives, they wouldn’t have any further excuses for religious wars; there wouldn’t be any further need for competing denominations that spend great time and energy accusing each other of teaching “false religion.”

There are at least 1,048,576 different permutations of God possible just by reference to the above 20 questions.  We could call the resulting constellations of answers God #1, God #2, etc.  If I had added a few more dozen questions, I could have established the potential existence of billions of gods.  Christian nation, you say?  What kind of Christian nation?  Based on God #3,745 or God #904,274?

If the many believers “in one God” would actually dare to honestly answer this list of questions, it would “split the ticket.”  There might then be more non-believers than there will be believers in any one particular type of God. Maybe, then, agnostics would take political control. That might not be a happy thing. Agnostics might then have arguments about what type of agnostics are the true agnostics (carnivore v. vegetarian, PC v. Mac, etc), and maybe we’d even see some agnostic wars where people furiously espousing subtly nuanced differences in how one should reserve judgment would slash at each others’ throats and burn each others’ cities. Would agnostics be ready to wield such political power?  Agnostics are certainly not experienced in wielding such political power . . .  Historically, they have been characterized as degenerate (and therefore kept powerless) no matter how much they help the poor and no matter how much work they do to kick corrupt self-proclaimed “religious” politicians out of office.

Here’s my plan for now: when people tell me that they “believe in God,” I’m going to ask them “Which God?”  Then we’ll talk about how each type of believer is actually a tiny minority that therefore needs to be politically humble.

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Category: Politics, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Sujay says:

    How about these?

    Was your God the one who instructed Osama Bin Laden to attack the WTC, or the one that asked Bush to attack Iraq? Or worse still, both?

    Is your God the one who promised Palestine to Abraham, or the one who inspires gunmen in Palestine to take up arms against Israel? Or both?

    If there is one god, does he have the perverse pleasure in making his creations hate each other, and kill each other?

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