Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Many Eastern religions make this claim about God. So do Muslims. Unfortunately it is incoherent.

To say God is unknowable is either a statement about God, or a statement about ourselves. If it is a statement about God it is an affirmation that he has no properties capable of being known. And yet having at least one property is what differentiates existence from non-existence. If God has no properties, then he doesn’t exist. If it is a statement about ourselves—our ability to know a God with specific properties—then it is self-refuting because the statement itself is a claim to know something about God: he is unknowable. If God was unknowable, we would not even be able to know that He was unknowable. This can be pointed out by asking, “How do you know God is unknowable if nothing can be known of God? Isn’t that something you know about him?”

Either way you look at it, that statement is incoherent.

“Western culture is pervaded with scientific naturalism and with postmodernism. The first of these strips the world of spirit, the other of knowledge. Both take away the hope of ultimate, transcendent meaning. Naturalism denies there is anything more to life than what we can touch and see, and postmodernism says there is almost nothing beyond ourselves that we can truly know.”

—Tom Gilson, in his review of J.P. Moreland’s Kingdom Triangle, available at