God can't be defined

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God can't be defined is a defensive apologist strategy that claims that we, as humans, lack the capability to properly comprehend the truth of what God is, and therefore we are not competent to define him, let alone disprove him. This is also referred to as "God works in mysterious ways" or "God moves in mysterious ways".

This argument is a common companion to "You can't prove God doesn't exist."

Counter Apologetics

  • It is unreasonable to refuse to discuss God because of a lack of clear definition. This is an example of Loki's wager.
  • The first problem with this statement is that the claim of an undefinable entity requires no refutation, so the argument lacks rhetorical power.
  • The atheist can point out that the claimant is attempting to 'sneak' premises into the argument. The notion of 'god' has a long history associated with it, and the entity it describes has been given numerous attributes; the theist is assuming that these attributes can be defined for an undefinable God, while there remain other attributes that cannot. The theist is also sneaking in the assumption that a fundamentally undefinable entity can nonetheless exist in reality.
  • If something is undefinable, then by claiming it exists is to provide definition, making the argument self-refuting.
  • By raising this objection, the theist is admitting that despite being undefinable, he or she believes that God nonetheless exists. How does he or she arrive at such a claim without the capacity to even so much as define the object of the claim?
  • If humans lack the intellectual power to define God, how can humans be expected to have the intellectual power to evaluate claims about this god? How did the theist arrive at a specific version of the god claim? Here, some may claim that they have supernatural knowledge of a particular god, but not enough knowledge to adequately define him. Even so, making it supernatural is no more than an appeal to ignorance and a claim of personal revelation.
  • If the theist assumes that God created humankind to worship him, why does this God not give us the capacity to define what we are worshiping? Why does he instead demand that we worship an ill-formed, contradictory mess of an idea that doesn't come close to representing his essence? For that matter, if we worship one particular (inadequate) model of him, are we worshiping God or the model of God?

See Also


v · d Common objections to atheism and counter-apologetics
Personal   Why are you trying to tear down other people's faith? · Why can't everyone just have their own beliefs? · What are your qualifications? · Atheists believe in nothing · You are a communist · Why do atheists inspire such hatred? · That's not my God
Religious   That's not in my Bible · They're not true Christians · You just want to sin · Atheists know there is a God · It takes more faith to disbelieve than it does to believe · God doesn't believe in atheists · Science is a faith · Atheism is a religion · Atheists worship materialism · Hypocrisy of celebrating religious holidays · Atheism is based on faith · Religious belief is beneficial
Science and logic   You can't prove God doesn't exist · Science can't touch god · God can't be defined · So you think we came from nothing / pondsoup / monkeys? · If God didn't create everything, who did? · That might be true for you, but its not true for me · Religion is another way of knowing · Apologetics and dinosaurs
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