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Ask the Patriarch 149
The Articles of Faith

from: Dan

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OK question for you - epistemology is always fun - do you mean to suggest, in article one, that what is unknowable, except by faith, is irrelevant?   Seems to me, that just because its unknowable by human reason, doesn't mean it wouldn't be helpful to know.  If someone were to reveal to you how a car works lets say, it helps a bit in driving - even if that knowledge is faith based.

Also, article one seems to contradict the conclusions in article 2, in that if your knowledge or intellect is limited, you cannot conclude logically that God, if he exists, did not make a difference, because you are not in a position to be able to make that judgement, do to your limited knowledge of the universe etc.  And therefore, you cannot conclude that God did not care, and therefore that you shouldn't care.

Which btw article 3 does seem to be a reasonable reaction if article 1 and 2 are true.

The Patriarch replies:

(The Articles of Faith were previously questioned in Q&A 136)


There is a clear difference between how a car works and the existence of a deity. If all knowledge was somehow lost about how an automobile worked, reverse engineering would permit us to discover the answer and even allow us to resume manufacturing them again.

Of course, the information has not been lost. If you do not know how your car works, it is not because it is unknowable. If you were interested enough, the information is readily available - available to the extent that if the whim struck you, you could build your own working automobile completely from scratch.

Let us take another example which might better address the point you are trying to make. Currently the identity of Jack the Ripper is both unknown and, given the information we possess today, unknowable. It is an interesting question to some, and for that reason they continue to search for more information. It is not impossible that a long-lost document may turn up that will provide the solution to the mystery. At least in theory, this is a question with a potential answer. And, given that several women really were gruesomely murdered in late19th century London, the identity of the murderer is real question.

However, these are questions about the material world we exist in, not about the immaterial world where gods, ghosts and spirits are claimed to exist in. I admit, many people find the question of the existence of a deity interesting. But, no-one as yet has produced a method for answering the question. I see no value in belief, particularly when I consider the many competing versions of a deity which makes it highly probable that selecting one to believe in would be a wrong choice.

I do not understand your perceived incompatibility between Articles 1 and 2. The discussion to article 2 seems quite clear to me:

All events in our Universe, including its beginning can be explained with or without the existence of a Supreme Being. Thus, if there is indeed a God, then that god has had no more impact than no god at all. To all appearances, any purported Supreme Being is indifferent to our Universe and to its inhabitants.

If you disagree, then simply identify a real event in the entire history of the universe for which the only possible cause is a deity.