Statement III

by zenquaker

This post discusses the three corollaries of the Ineffability Principle (P2): The Doubt Corollary, the Tolerance Corollary, and the Rejection Corollary.

Corollary 2-1: We are All Equally Wrong (The Doubt Corollary)

The Ineffability Principle implies that whatever we say about God is potentially wrong. We know that some of what we say is wrong, so we cannot be absolutely sure that any particular thing we say is correct. Therefore we should be willing to doubt everything we believe.

I think this is a very important corollary, and one that antitheists like Sam Harris often get wrong. To Sam Harris, religion is the source of all evil. Once you believe in religion, you can label anyone who disagrees with you as evil. This can be used as justification to do evil to them.

Certainly religion has been involved in much of the evil done throughout human history. But what would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad is to watch Sam Harris and his apologists try to contort the history of non-religious (and often anti-religious) evil in the world to fit this theory that it’s all religion’s fault. The fault isn’t with religion, the fault is with a lack of doubt. If you don’t doubt that Communism is the future of the world, you can do evil in it’s name. If you don’t doubt that whites are better than blacks or Jews, you can do evil to them.

The Doubt Corollary as discussed here just pertains to God, not economics or race relations. I go beyond that to apply it to everything. I have a hat that says “Question Everything,” a phrase I actually stole from sensei Brad Warner.

Corollary 2-2: We are All Equally Correct (The Tolerance Corollary)

If one consequence of the Ineffability Principle is that we are all wrong, the other is that we cannot assume we are any more right about God than anyone else. If we disagree with others, we may be wrong by the Doubt Corollary, which means they may be right (or we might both be wrong). Therefore we should be tolerant of others beliefs. As long as others are trying to honestly explain their experience of the ineffable, we should be willing to listen with acceptance. Who knows, you might learn something.

Corollary 2-3: Reject Sacred Texts (The Rejection Corollary)

The Ineffability Principle states that God is beyond understanding. Language is our mode of understanding, and if God is beyond understanding then he is beyond language, and beyond any book. Therefore no book is sacred. If God is beyond words, nothing can be the inerrant word of God.

This does not mean we reject the book, but rather that we reject the book as sacred. They can still be helpful to guide us to God, they can still be fingers pointing at the moon, but they are no more the moon than Bruce Lee’s finger is.

I do not believe that God is small enough to fit in a book. I do not believe that God is weak enough to be bound by a book. I do not believe that God is simple enough to be explained by a book.