A Brief Response to a Lingering Claim
Atheists often claim that it is possible that God is lying to men about any particular belief men have about the world. But is this the case? Is it logically possible for God to lie?
The answer to this question is no.
1. A lie is a false assertion presented as true by a speaker who knows it is false. For example, if I know that there is no law against driving with one”s rear windows lowered, but I tell my children that there is such a law, I am presenting to them as true a false assertion.
2. A lie is told in order to achieve some otherwise unachievable end. For example, if my children do not accept my authority as binding on their actions but do accept those of law enforcement as such, then I have lied to them in order to gain control over their actions which I otherwise would lack.
3. The fact that lies are told in order to assist one in achieving what is otherwise, for him, unachievable, implies that what is the case is, at least in instances in which one feels he must lie, is not in his control. One who lies is subjected to other beings, forces, and circumstances which have, at least in instances in which one feels he must lie, the advantage over oneself.
4. It is often the case, however, that what one aims to achieve by lying is later shown to have been achievable without resorting to lying. Thus, if one were to know that he could achieve his goal without lying, there would be no need for telling a lie. Thus, those who lie are not merely limited as regards intrinsic and extrinsic ability (see #’s 2 & 3), but are also limited with respect to their knowledge of the future. For if one knows that a given end will later be revealed as achievable without lying, then lying is completely unnecessary in the present.
5. Thus, the one who lies is likewise temporally limited. For if one is epistemically limited to the present, then he lacks the capacity to simultaneously know the present and the future. For if in knowing the present, he yet cannot know the future, then it follows that his knowledge of what is the case is limited to his being-present at some time t. His knowledge is particular and cannot be the basis for a sound deduction of what will be the case at some point t’. Consequently, one will only come to possess a knowledge of what will occur at t’ when he is present at t’.
6. This last point further implies that one who lies is also spatially limited. For if one can only know what will be the case at some point t’, then it follows that he cannot presently know those presently occurring events that causally affect what will be the case at some point t’. He is limited to what he knows to be the case at point’, and this is limited to what he is capable of knowing, which to some extent excludes those hidden causal relations and processes requisite to producing and/or influencing what will be the case at point t’.
7. Thus, it cannot be the case that it is possible that God is lying to man about any particular belief men have about the world. For while God possesses knowledge of what is a lie, he is neither intrinsically nor extrinsically limited as regards his power. Moreover, he is not epistemically limited but knows all things past, present, and future. Lastly, he is not limited by time or space. God being omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient rules out the possibility of his ever lying to men about the world.
The atheist often goes a step further and blasphemously states that God may be lying about himself. But is this possible? No.
When we are talking about God in general, we are talking about his universally understood attributes – eternality, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. To assert that God could lie because he might not have these attributes is to commit the fallacy of equivocation by using two different definitions of God. In the one instance, God would be God as understood by all. In the second instance, God would be some other kind of deity than was assumed at the onset of one’s interaction. This is fallacious reasoning.
Soli Deo Gloria