Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Dave Matthews' Incoherent God-Talk

A recent quote from Dave Matthews on God is an example of confusion, incoherency, and maybe "mosaic" thining (as opposed to linear thinking). Matthews says:
"The idea of a God that's preoccupied with our well-being is totally foreign to me. I'm more inclined to think that a very miraculous indifference is responsible for most things. I have faith, but I think there's a difference between faith and absolute belief. Faith requires a certain amount of suspended belief, whereas absolute belief doesn't really require any faith. If you think God is absolutely there watching you, then why do you need any faith? But I do like the idea of a force that made all the miracles. All the stuff we don't understand that we arrogantly pretend to be in control of, that stuff is where I think my faith is."--Dave Matthews in Rolling Stone (cited at thunderstruck.org)
Now this is incoherent.
Assuming Matthews' quote is in context, we can state the following.
1. "A very miraculous indifference is responsible for most things."
a. What is: "a very miraculous indifference?" I think it is no more than a poetic oxymoron with no identifiable cognitive content.
b. "Miraculous" implies God. "Indifference" implies no God or, at most, deism.
c. "Responsible" implies personal agency (Again, God).
d. "Indifferent responsibility" is probably a logical contradiction, akin to "round square."
e. "Responsible for most things" is vague and thus unhelpful.
2. "There is a difference between faith and absolute belief."
a. "Absolute belief" means...??? Dogmatism? Certainty?
b. Matthews commits the logical fallacy of false dichotomy. There are other possibilities rather than just "faith" and "absolute belief" (whatever that is). Such as, e.g., reasonable faith. Or: reasons to believe.
3. Faith does not require "a certain amount of suspended belief." And even if it did, how much? How little? But to act in faith does not require that one suspend belief. Actually, it is because of belief and out of belief that persons act in faith.
4. "If you think God is absolutely there watching you..."
a. What does this mean? Does it mean: if you really, really believe God is watching you?
b. Why would such a fact remove the need for faith? The answer is: God's watching you does not mean one can do away with faith anymore than a coach watching their student means the student does not need faith to follow what the coach wants.
5. "A force that made all the miracles..."
a. Does Matthews mean a "force" that acts miraculously?
b. And, of course, "force" is vague and, anyway, it's from Star Wars.