The Emperor’s New Pigeon

One effective technique often borrowed by apologists is the Emperor’s New Clothes argument, aka Blaming the Pigeon. The commenter I replied to earlier gives us a fair sample of this technique:

Just, for a moment, consider the possibility that God is real. Don’t you think that it would be possible, if God was real, that there might just be a little bit more in His noggin than in yours? You disqualify the existence of God based on your finite mental capacity. Kind of like a 13 year old who thinks they know more than their parents. Or think about it in these terms: Is a 1985 Apple IIe able to process the same complex programming that a 2007 Macbook can? There is so much that we don’t understand and won’t even have the ability to understand until He chooses to make it clear to us.

In other words, “if my claims seem to be inconsistent with themselves and with reality, it’s because there’s something wrong with you.” Just like the tailors said in the Emperor’s New Clothes, the argument is that if we were only smarter, we could see that they were right. The reason their claims seem untrue is not due to any flaw in their claims, but because we are flawed. Just agree that we’re right, and everyone will regard you as wiser and more noble!

This is an old con-man ploy. If the pigeon questions your snake oil’s failure to produce results, you tell the pigeon that he must be using it wrong, he’s rubbing too hard or not hard enough, or he left the cap off too long, or whatever. But it’s the pigeon’s fault, you see, not any failure on the part of the snake oil.

The answer to the commenter’s argument is to point out that God does not show up in the real world, and in His absence, we’re not dealing with God appealing to concepts we don’t understand, or using jargon we’re not familiar with. We’re not dealing with God telling us to do things whose point we just don’t get. God does not show up in the real world, and in His absence, men are telling us stories about God, stories that have glaring inconsistencies with the real world and with each other. If God were to show up and start talking about what actually happens when you accelerate a quark to near the speed of light, sure, fine, I have no problem conceding that the topic has exceeded my ability to comprehend. But we’re not talking about God showing up and presenting us with anything that’s hard to understand. God is not showing up at all, and in the meantime, what will we make of these inconsistent stories men are telling us?

You don’t need to be able to solve the complex equations of general relativity in order to be capable of understanding and rejecting inconsistent results like “2+2=5”. If the stories men tell about God are self-contradictory and inconsistent with what we find in the real world, it’s not because there’s something wrong with us. Truth is consistent with itself, and that which is not consistent with itself, or is not consistent with the truth, is not truth. It does not take infinite knowledge or infinite wisdom to know that.

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