An Argument Against the Abrahamic God From The Need for Interpretation

Published on 9 April 2023 at 14:00

Abrahamic religious scriptures, such as the Quran, Bible, and Torah, present a significant challenge: the need for interpretation. Much of theological literature addresses how to interpret these scriptures, and many beliefs derive from particular interpretations. The diverse interpretations among Christian denominations underscore this point.

One stark example is the division between young earth creationists and other Christians. The former believe the Bible should be taken literally in its entirety, while many evangelical Christians accept that certain passages are metaphorical or allegorical. Similarly, the existence of soteriology, the study of salvation, emerges from the inability of Christians to reach a consensus on the Bible's teachings about salvation.

The interpretation of scriptures has even led to the formation of new religions. Christianity, for instance, emerged from Judaism, interpreting Old Testament prophecies as foretelling Jesus as the Messiah. In contrast, Jews and Muslims view their scriptures differently, leading to significant doctrinal distinctions. For example, the practicing Jewish community does not interpret their scripture as Christians do, especially concerning beliefs about the Messiah, whom the New Testament asserts is the sole path to salvation and eternity.

Considering the gravitas of these scriptures, intended to convey a divine message with eternal consequences, one might anticipate clarity and universal agreement. Yet, thousands of Christian denominations and multiple Jewish and Muslim sects have arisen due to differing interpretations.

This predicament is concerning: a divine message should be lucid and straightforward, not subject to interpretation. If an omniscient being like God exists, they should be able to convey a universally comprehensible message. The ambiguity and diverse interpretations undermine the scripture's significance, leading some to question the very omniscience of God.

While all written works may necessitate interpretation, religious scriptures claim unparalleled importance, allegedly being humanity's most vital message. Hence, understanding this message should not require interpretation, and theological disagreements over its meaning shouldn't exist. Comparatively, the works of luminaries like Homer, Plato, and Hume never professed to offer the ultimate message about an omnipotent being whose teachings could determine humanity's eternal fate.

In essence, religious texts appear unclear, often contradictory, and generally demand intense scholarship for interpretation.

From this premise, we can deduce two arguments:

  1. Argument One:

    • P1: If God exists and seeks to communicate with humanity, the message should be universally accessible and comprehensible.
    • P2: There exist significant disagreements and conflicting interpretations of religious texts.
    • P3: The ambiguity in religious messages suggests either the non-existence of God or God's lack of interest in communicating with humanity.
    • C: It seems improbable that the God described in religious texts exists or is communicating with humanity.
  2. Argument Two:

    • P1: There's no conclusive evidence of God communicating through religious texts.
    • P2: If such a God exists, it's logical to assume they would actively communicate with humanity.
    • C: Given the absence of clear divine communication and lack of evidence for God's existence, it is plausible that the God depicted in religious texts doesn't exist.

These arguments rest on the premise that religious texts require interpretation. If one accepts that these texts necessitate such scrutiny, the arguments are valid. Conversely, if one challenges this premise, the self-contradictory nature of Abrahamic texts would suggest that their God probably doesn't exist. While these arguments don't definitively disprove the Abrahamic God's existence, they posit that disbelief is the most rational stance. It's crucial to note that these arguments don't address gods from other religions or pantheistic or deistic conceptions of divinity.

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The Schoolbook Suppository
a year ago

Another intriguing post! You well know my stance on interpretation - that I believe the need to read, digest and seek answers from Biblical texts is precisely the point of them; an answer discovered is more valuable than an answer provided. I understand, however, the problematic nature of this - bluntly put, "People Be Dumb". That every person's interpretation may differ is (to my mind) a feature rather than a bug; the problem comes from the resulting conflict. But that conflict is born of human weakness rather than Divine mischief. Perhaps the ultimate lesson (which we still have not, as a species, learned) is that we should be tolerant of other people, even those with whom we vehemently disagree.

As always, of course, I'm spitballing here.

Food for thought, certainly.