A couple years ago, I posted a Facebook status talking about Obamacare. This discussion soon got off topic and turned into a religious debate. One guy in particular commented on my status, used some very harsh and inappropriate language, and then made the comment, I quote, “anybody who believes in an invisible man is insane!” At first, I just ignored this ignorant statement, but then he started private messaging me. He went on and on and on about how Christians are stupid and insane. However, he failed in showing any evidence to support his own reasoning. Is this enough? Is it insane to believe in God and all of the things that are entailed in Christianity?
What if it’s true?
If somebody is hearing voices, or if they feel as if something inside of them is telling them or motivating them to do something, and those voices or feelings are not there from some outside source, this person is classified as mentally ill. This could be used against Christianity. However, there are huge implications if this is not the situation. If there is a God who is speaking to us, whether it be through Scripture or some other method, then you could not be classified as insane for hearing God speak to you. Why? Because God would be an outside source. So, how do we prove this one way or another?
How do we know?
How do we know if God is truly speaking to us or not? Sam Harris describes people who believe that God is speaking to them as mentally ill. However, this can in no way, shape, or form be used as evidence against the existence of God. Why? Because it has no evidential basis for it. You cannot prove that God isn’t speaking to someone. I am normally not a fan of arguments such as “I can’t prove that God exists, but you can’t prove that He doesn’t.” I will agree that this argument doesn’t make any sense. However, in the situation where people claim that God is speaking to them, this is different, because it is an issue of perspective, not empirical evidence. However, we can validate personal experience with a different kind of evidence (or at least form some sort of philosophical theory behind it).
But you don’t have any scientific evidence for this claim.
I don’t have to. I’m not strictly speaking of empirical evidence (because there is none). God is not proven by science, but by other philosophical methods. If you support scientism, then you are going to disagree with everything I’m about to say. Science and empirical data are not the only way to gain knowledge. Can I know this? Absolutely. How? Because in order to show how evidential science actually is, you have to use a different method. “Philosophy of Science” if you will. The Scientific method cannot prove the scientific method. This does not mean that the scientific method is flawed, it means that a different “nonscientific” method is used to determine its validity. Which, for me, is fine because I accept other methods of gaining knowledge other than science. Philosophy is not a branch off of science (as some people assert) but science is a branch off of philosophy. Why? Because philosophy is the basis for scientific validity. Asking the question of “How does science work?” is not a scientific question (if it is, then I would like to see it proposed). Why am I ranting on about scientific evidence? Because mental illness is often confirmed through observational data, or some other psychological theory. When it comes to the issue of God, this cannot be the case. So, the argument of whether someone is mentally ill for believing that God is speaking to them or not becomes irrelevant when it comes to STRICTLY science, because there are other philosophical issues as well. You cannot say on JUST a scientific basis that God is speaking to someone or not.
So, where is your “philosophical” evidence?
Well, the evidence I see lies at the heart of many issues. I believe the only question of “why is there something rather than nothing?” is ultimately answered by some sort of transcendent being (see my post “Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument”). How do I know this is God? Through teleology and other inductive methods (intrinsic fine-tuning in our universe, etc.). Through this, I can clearly see that there is an intelligent, transcendent agent who created our universe. You can disagree with all of this evidence, however, when calling a Christian “insane” for believing in God, well, there’s a lot more evidence to consider with that claim. No, not all atheists/agnostics/naturalists etc. believe that Christians are insane. There are, however, people who do believe this. I have seen studies out there that claim that Christians are mentally ill. These studies are based on asking ridiculous questions that do not even pertain to the existence of a personal God or lack thereof. If you are not even willing to address the ultimate problem at hand, which is the evidence for God, then how can you have a right to call someone insane? Like I’ve said many times before, this issue is about asking the right questions. And I feel that the right questions are scarcely asked when discussing these issues.