The Incomprehensibility Argument Against Religious Knowledge

Apologists say that reason leads to belief in God.  Some will argue that any attempt by atheists to advance reasons for rejecting belief in God leads to an internal incoherence, because without God there cannot be any basis for relying on our powers of reason.  But how reliable would reason be if theism were true?

By “theism” I mean here the belief in a God who is infinite and omniscient.  Such a being would be as far above we humans (in terms of his knowledge, reasoning and understanding) as a human is above an ant.  In fact, this might be an understatement, since it does not fully express the difference between the infinite and the finite.

An ant could have no insight into human wishes or motives.  Any attempt by an ant to understand human behaviour or actions in terms of its own antly priorities would be doomed to failure.  

By the same token, any attempt by humans to understand God’s actions, wishes or motivations must be doomed to failure, for exactly the same reason as the ant’s attempt to understand humans.

Why would the theist claim to have any knowledge about God?  Whatever she says she knows about him comes from her finite, fallible, flawed understanding of the world and how God has chosen to reveal himself in it.  She believes herself to be made in God’s image and thinks that this guarantees her rationality.  But this begs the question, because her reasons for believing that she is made in God’s image depend on her abilty to reason correctly about God and his word. 

She works on the premise that God would not deceive her.  But why should God not deceive her?  Her human understanding is that deception is wrong and that God would not do wrong.  But God being so far above her in all things, might have reasons for deceiving her –  and the whole human race.   Her understanding that deception is “wrong” might be nothing more than a reflection of her own limitations. Perhaps from God’s sublime point of view, deception is a great good.  

The theist must accept that her “reasoning” about God, about truth, about knowledge, might all be nothing more than filthy rags of unreason in God’s eyes.  

The theist can say that God exists but thereafter must fall silent.  She cannot know his nature, how he wishes to be worshipped, what doctrines are true about him, how best she might please him.

She cannot even speak on secular subjects.  God, for his own reasons, might have deceived her on every single thought or belief she has.  She cannot know that she knows anything about anything.  

Ultimately, the theist must reject the very reasoning which led her to claim God’s existence in the first place.