"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
Can one imagine that which is outside his/her realm of experience. This is the real question that comes into play here. The idea that April brought forward, that "just because the human mind can imagine something does not make it real," isn't at issue. The argument that the existence of the concept of God argues that he is does not suggest that the ability to imagine makes that which is imagined real. It does however suggest that that which is imagined has a basis in fact, or experience.
April suggested two supposed parallels which she believed showed the ridiculousness of my proposition, which in fact support what I am saying. No, I am not saying that aliens or unicorns exist, but I do say that the ability to imagine them comes from some basis of fact.
I think most people recognize that the basis of fact upon which the unicorn rests is the rhinoceros. The imagined unicorn is nothing more than an augmentation of the real rhinoceros. To give someone elses example the human mind is able to see a man and a horse, then image them separately. However the human mind is also able to augment that image, putting the man and horse together thus imaging a centaur, half human-half horse.
In the case of aliens, I wonder if April would be able to show that man imagined aliens, prior to the time when man realized that there were other planetary worlds than the one that they lived on? If so, what were those images? I am a fairly big follower of Science-Fiction and from the earliest that I am aware of "aliens" took one of three forms, humaniform (to borrow a word from the second Foundation Trilogy), insectoid, or plant. In other words man has been unable to imagine a life form beyond an augmentation of what is already within his experience.
She also argues that man is able to imagine powers that do not exist, such as the ability to become invisible. I would still argue that the imagination has it's basis in fact. Again it would be mere augmentation for someone to have observed some sleight-of-hand (intentional or accidental) then superimpose that imagery to man. Still the imagination has its basis in reality.
Thirdly she argues that "all human concepts incorporate human and/or animal features and traits." I would question the all and will explain later in this article. However that fact the man worships often the creation rather than the creator is something that Paul addressed in Romans. April proposes that this is evidence that gods are man made. I would agree with this, but it does not prove that God is man-made.
This argument pre-supposes that monotheism arose from polytheism. That is the idea that Man imagined gods as augmentations of man and animal or other aspects of nature if you incorporate druidic lore, then refined his imagination down to one all powerful God. However some studies have indicated that the reverse is true. That polytheism arose out of monotheism. (See "Modern Discovery and the Bible," A. Rendal Short, Iner-Varsity Fellowship, London, 1952, Chapter 2). It also presupposes that man derived his views of God from nature, but J.D. Bales in his book "Communism: Its Faith and Fallacies" quotes J.R. Swanton of the Smithsonian Institute as declaring such a view as "unproved and improbable." (Christian Evidences, The Existence of God, (Part II), Wayne Jackson, M.A., Apologetics Press). So while the imaging of gods may well be an augmentation of observable data, it also seems that it may well be a diminishing of observable data. The observable data that man gained from communication with the one real God.
Now to the remark I made above concerning the questioning of all human concepts incorporating human and/or animal traits. This is true in polytheistic belief systems. However it is interesting that in these systems the gods that were imagined were also limited, they were finite and their abilities as well as subject to human passions. They were able to be tricked, they were subject to carnal desires, they consorted with humans in carnal ways, they were subject to petty hierarchal feuds. In short they were nothing more that, as April pointed out, augmented beings having their origin in human thought from man's observable nature and world.
This however is not the case with the God of the Bible. He is far more than the augmented beings we refer to above. He cannot be fooled (tricked), he is not subject to human carnal passions. He is beyond the experience of man in other words.
April again suggests that by recognizing our limitations, it is no more than an augmentation of our own experiences to imagine a being that is infinite in scope, but it is arguable whether finite man could imagine the infinite without having something of the infinite revealed to him. That infinite was revealed. Again with personal experience with God.
I believe the proposition still stands that the existence of the concept of God argues that He is.
Michael P. Hughes
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.