Previously, I wrote a blog entry about an unfair “out” that believers have when they explain how something happened: “God did it.”
However, that is not the only trick up the believer’s sleeve. There is also the situation in which something does happen, but which an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God would not want to happen. Polio, floods, wars, drug wars, genocides, rapes, slavery, psychopathy, psychopathic killers, torture, child molestation, other religions existing, atheism, errors or contradictions in the Bible/Koran/Torah/etc., animal cruelty: the list goes on.
Why would God allow these things to exist? They do not help the case for religion in the slightest. However, a quick rejoinder solves all this: “God works in mysterious ways.”
Ah, yes! The “get out of jail free card” of religion. It works for anything that conflicts with one’s particular religious beliefs.
This is, however, not as great a solution as one might think. Why? Consider this.
After 9/11, many people might have said, “How could Osama Bin Laden have planned such a terrible act?”
Well, the answer would be simple, wouldn’t it? “Osama Bin Laden works in mysterious ways!”
“Oh, no! No, no, no! This cannot be applied to anything other than God, that’s not fair!” one might say.
Well, that’s partially correct, at least. It isn’t fair because it isn’t a fair argument.
It is an unfalsifiable statement. Although unfalsifiable sounds great (as in, “Wow! It can’t be falsified! It must be true!); unfalsifiability is not a measure of a statement’s strength, it’s actually a demonstration of it’s weakness, for precisely the same reason why it can be used to legitimize Bin Laden, or any other terrible act, for that matter. It can be applied to anything and still work. If something is true, it needs to have a method for testing it’s truth — an unfalsifiable statement cannot be tested and is therefore not a fair statement, logically.
If religious people can use “God works in mysterious ways,” then everyone can use “x works in mysterious ways” to prove anything. This is obviously not an effective way at getting to the truth in any matter, so the only other option is for nobody to use this manner of arguing. God does not work in mysterious ways: unfalsifiable statements work in mysterious ways.