Is the “Immaterial” Actually Imaginary?
My argument has been that God is the source of logic... What I mean is that God's existence demands that logic be valid… Thus, in my system, God is axiomatic in order for logic to work… Logic is part of the character of God--it is one of His attributes.
Of his several papers bent on proving some fundamental association between a god and logic, I can find only one of them online now (however, he has several blogs on the topic; see for instance here, here, here, here, and here). As for the case which Pike lays out in this one from his current personal site, I’m reminded overall of one of the premises in an argument which William Lane Craig gave for the universe having a beginning. With numerous digressions and “bunny trails,” as Pike adequately calls them, it is not always easy to know where exactly he’s going with what he presents.
In the opening of his paper, however, Pike does make what appears to be a most startling admission, particularly coming from a Christian apologist. It is when he is discussing what the concept ‘existence’ means that Pike makes the following statement:
When something “exists” it is. Note that this does not mean that we are dealing with physical or material existence. Indeed, immaterial existence also exists. (For evidence of this, imagine a red ball. The red ball you have imagined does not have any physical existence; it exists immaterially. Granted, one can argue that the immaterial existence is based on a material brain, but the ball that is imagined is not material. It does not exist physically anywhere.)
Did you get that? According to Pike, when you imagine a ball, that ball really does exist, and what’s more, “it exists immaterially.” Apparently Pike believes that people can make things exist just by imagining them. Perhaps this is supposed to be a human version of creation ex nihilo: you imagine a ball, and Poof! it exists. The reason why we don’t see the ball we imagined into existence, is because “it exists immaterially,” and whatever is “immaterial” is not accessible to the senses, just as things which we imagine are not accessible to the senses.
Now isn’t it curious how Pike chooses to cite something imaginary not only as an example of something that is “immaterial,” but also as evidence that “immaterial existence” really does exist?
It is unmistakable that Christians typically consider their god as something that qualifies as “immaterial existence.” But significantly, Pike clearly equates “immaterial existence” with things that are imaginary. Typically, however, Christians want everyone else to believe that their god is actually real, and not imaginary, and by so insisting they implicitly acknowledge that there is in fact a fundamental distinction between the real on the one hand, and the imaginary on the other. For Pike, however, this distinction has been erased altogether, a move which is far more consistent with theism’s subjective basis than the usual denials we see from theists. I have asked elsewhere on my blog for theists to explain how one can reliably distinguish between what they call “God” and what they may merely be imagining. Unfortunately, theists usually offer no response here, and when they do it has not been helpful to their position at all.
Now it is important to note, when asking about things that exist, that it is a fair question to ask where that alleged something exists, particularly if its location is not immediately discernable. If I tell my neighbor that I own a BMW, for instance, but he only sees me time and time again driving a Ford everyday, and has never seen a BMW in my driveway, he very well might wonder where I’m hiding my BMW. And in such a case, there would be nothing fallacious about asking such a question.
But the theist might likely stop me here and again point to his god’s “immaterial” nature as reason to say that such questions simply do not apply in the case of his god. Apparently we’re supposed to believe that his god exists everywhere (it is “omnipresent,” which is presumably not the case with all “immaterial existence”). Unfortunately, in regard to this we really have nothing other than his claim to go on. Then of course there are likely going to be qualifications for this. For instance, does his god exist in the hearts of evil men? Proverbs 15:29 seems to answer this in the negative: “The LORD is far from the wicked.” And if it is maintained that there are in fact evil men in the universe (which, according to Christianity, not only exists, but was also created by said god), then it seems that the claim that the Christian god exists everywhere is mistaken.
Regardless, it would be easy for any person to claim that something which is merely imaginary exists everywhere, or everywhere except in the hearts of those he considers wicked. I can, for instance, claim that Blarko exists everywhere, and even give as the reason why no one sees Blarko is because Blarko is an example of “immaterial existence,” so it would be foolish to expect to be able to see Blarko (aren’t those unbelievers in Blarko stupid?). But in spite of such explanations, it’s still the case that Blarko is only something that I have imagined. And this is significant in my view, for in my view there is a fundamental distinction between the real and the imaginary.
Now if the theist has difficulty distinguishing between the real and the imaginary, that seems to be a major problem. If he has difficulty explaining how the rest of us can reliably distinguish between what he calls “God” and what he is simply imagining, he could face insurmountable challenges when it comes to his proselytizing efforts. This is why evangelists always have better chances of success by going after those who are unclear on the nature of objectivity.
It is also interesting to see how Pike explains what he means by the word “God”. In the same article, he writes:
By “God” we mean an eternal, self-existent, necessary and immaterial being who is transcendent, omnipotent, and immutable. Other attributes may, perhaps, fit in as well, but I think it is sufficient for the task to limit ourselves to these attributes.
Regardless, the incoherence of such Christian babble ultimately finds its source, not only in the bible, but in the believer’s desire to take the bible seriously as an authority on philosophical matters. I have pointed out before that the bible, which is at the center of the Christian religion, exploits the believer’s imagination. As I explained in one of my responses to commenter Vytautas:
…like Harry Potter novels, the bible describes things that we never see in reality, things which we can only imagine by ignoring what we know about reality (such as that young boys can fly on broomsticks or men can walk on unfrozen water, etc.).
The Bible claims to be the word of God unlike Harry Potter or other fiction novels, and it gives an explanation of how we can be saved from the wrath to come.
Moreover, Oxford University mathematician and defender of Christianity Dr. John Lennox agrees with my basic point that “the bible describes things we never see, things which we can only imagine,” when he tells us early on in a talk of his that
…one of the wonders of God’s creation of the human mind, is its ability to imagine. And parts of the bible are written so that we can imagine the realities that stand fundamental to our faith. And what better book, than the book of Revelation, to do precisely that? (Using Scripture to Engage the Mind and Imagination; underlining added.)
Is the "immaterial" actually imaginary? It certainly seems so.
by Dawson Bethrick