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Discussion 9 to Meditation 832
That argument won't fly

by: JT

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Christian:

It strikes me that in your latest, you are turning to wordplay rather than making a valid argument. Perhaps I am missing something about the direction you are taking, but I see nothing on which you can build a case even if all your three propositions were valid and applicable. One is not valid, and one is not applicable, and is also of questionable validity when applied to the issue at hand.

Let's take all three in turn.

1. Any self-aware being knows its own existence.

I have no problem with this one - it is pretty close to a tautological statement.

2. A SB, if it exists, is self-aware.

No. While this seems to be valid for some Supreme Beings followed by certain religions, others adhere to a Supreme Being which can best be described as a Primal Force. So, while this may be true, it is not necessarily true. As a universal proposition, it is false.

3. No being that knows its own existence can be called objectively unknowable.

This is where I think you are just playing games with words. In a certain sense the proposition is true, BUT it is not applicable to the discussion of the first article of faith. What the article of faith is talking about is not whether a Supreme Being can have knowledge of its own existence, but whether we as observers can know of a Supreme Being's existence. The Supreme Being's self-awareness is irrelevant.

But, for the sake of argument, suppose this proposition was relevant - and again, it is not. Then, while I said above that the proposition is true in a certain sense, in another sense it is false. It is possible for a being to know it exists, but not know its true nature. To be more specific, it is possible that a self-aware Supreme Being could exist without knowing that it is a Supreme Being.

Now you might say in turn that this is just word play. But, it is reflected in actual religious belief. Real world religions have Supreme Beings who are self-aware yet are unaware that they are gods.

Take the strange case of the late Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, and also revered, in life and in death, as God by Jamaica's Rastafarians. Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian and somewhat bemused that he was considered God by followers of another religion. So, there we have a self-aware being, considered a Supreme Being, but not personally aware of it.

If that's not good enough for you, then take the strange case of Jesus of Nazareth. Most, though not all, Christian denominations regard him as part of the trinity that make up the Christian Supreme Being. Many, but not all of those denominations claim that this trinity always existed; it was not something that started with Jesus's birth. If you read the gospels carefully, you will find no sign that the living Jesus regarded himself as part of that trinity, or that he was even aware of a trinity throughout his life.[1] He was self-aware, but not aware that he was God.

So, if a self-aware Supreme Being doesn't know that it is a Supreme Being, how are we to know?

Wherever you intend going with your three propositions, Christian, I cannot see that they are going to lead you to a refutation of any of the UCTAA articles of faith.

Footnote:

  1. To be fair, there are two passages which can be used to build an opposing argument; John 10:30 - which may be interpreted to read that Jesus was part of a duality (during his ministry) and Matthew 28:19 which mentions the three elements considered to make up the trinity - but does not state that it is a trinity (after the resurrection).