Would God give creatures knowledge via the senses?

What does it mean to be all-knowing? Can an Omniscient Being know what it’s like to feel sick? Can such an entity know what it’s like to feel lust? These would be examples of knowledge by experience.

In my experience, theologians say that God’s knowledge is merely propositional. In other words, God doesn’t have experiential knowledge or knowledge through the senses.

Let’s grant for the sake of argument that God’s knowledge is limited to just propositional knowledge. That is, God does not believe any false propositions, and God knows all true propositions (knowledge=well-justified true belief).

Informal Statement

But, why would God make creatures (like ourselves) who have experiential knowledge and/or knowledge through the senses? Because, once again, God doesn’t have such knowledge. So, on theism, we already have reasons to expect there not to be experiential knowledge or knowledge through the senses. And, on theism, God can create creatures who gain knowledge solely apart from experience (e.g. angels). However, that’s not what we observe. Humans primarily gain knowledge through experience. In fact, arguably, the only things that can be known apart from experience are propositions that are true/false by definition.

On naturalism, however, we would expect some of our knowledge to come through the senses. On naturalism, human beings would be physical beings with physical minds. In addition, there is no God to personally plant ideas in our minds.

Formal Statement of the Argument

Let’s call this argument against God’s existence, “The Argument from Sensory Knowledge“.

The argument is as follows:

1. It is a known fact that some human knowledge comes through sensory perception

2. The fact that (at least) some human knowledge comes through sensory perception is more likely on the hypothesis of naturalism than on the hypothesis of classical theism

3. The hypothesis of naturalism has an intrinsic probability equal to that of classical theism

4. Therefore, other evidence held equal, it is probable that classical theism is false

The fundamental point is that God could have easily created a world where, from start to finish, all of our knowledge comes without the senses. We’d also expect such a world because all of God’s knowledge comes apart from experience. It’s not as if God, on classical theism, has sensory organs!

Even if most of our knowledge wasn’t by experience, the fact that some of our knowledge is through the senses is somewhat surprising on theism, but not very surprising on naturalism.

Objections

“Maybe one day all knowledge will be implanted into our minds through technology.”

Even if this were possible, God could have made it the case that we have non-experiential knowledge from the very start. We have sensory organs, which isn’t surprising on naturalism. With sensory organs, we have the potential to gain new knowledge. If God created only spiritual entities apart from bodies, these beings can’t gain new information through sensory organs. Having sensory organs entails the real potential to have sensory knowledge, but being an incorporeal self doesn’t entail this potential. Even if spirits could affect physical bodies, this is only true if physical bodies exist. But, physical bodies don’t have to exist on theism.

“Maybe God has a good reason to have human knowledge be the way it is”

Maybe, but maybe not. For all we know, God doesn’t have a good reason.

Conclusion

I don’t claim that this argument is some kind of knockdown argument. Rather, this argument just started out as an idea in my head, and I wanted to test and see whether there was anything further to explore.

italian-landscape-mountains-nature

2 thoughts on “Would God give creatures knowledge via the senses?

  1. There are additional consequences. Any number of people explain Jesus’s birth, youth, mission, and death story as being necessary to acquire knowledge/experience. This, as you point out, is irrational. The whole idea of a hidden resurrection is laughable. Had Jesus taken an arrow in the chest, been pronounced dead, then risen and plucked out the arrow, then taken a spear through the heart, had his arm chopped off, etc. etc. and then made himself whole again, he would have had a multitude of followers instantaneously. The people of the time believed in the existence of gods and that they did walk the earth (no “beyond space and time” foolishness then).

    He could have “died” in front of learned physicians and then resurrected himself. He could have stood in a bonfire for an hour and walked out unscathed. Think of all of the ways he could have demonstrated his god-hood. He could have changed a goat into a cow and drank its milk. he could have made every Roman in Judea be magically transported back to Rome! And he chose crucification and an unwitnessed resurrection and then leaves the scene?

    The whole story is irrational. If the intent of the god was to make all humans aware of the new covenant, he could have just done that, in a second everyone would have known what they need to do. Whether it was belief or works or a combination. Whether the Trinity were real or whether there were One or Two natures, all of the things Christians went to war over. Whether god wanted a church, bishops, priests, deacons, etc. All could have been made known, over the entire world in just a thought.

    No one seems to compare what is claimed to have happened with what is possible for an all-knowing, all-powerful god. No one seems to notice that their god having “helpers” (angels, cherubim, seraphim, demons, etc.) is an argument for it not being “all-powerful.” Can we conclude from this that Yahweh, like ‘The Shadow” has the ability “to cloud men’s minds?”

  2. ON GOD

    In the technological evolution of the natural metaphorical mind, that is the First-Language, to its systematically trained descriptive construct, that is, the Third-Language, I understand the notion of a god as a hypothetical search for meaning withing that meaningless system of mind.

    Carl Jung clearly understood that. I will paraphrase him here, Language, that is, the Third-Language, is nothing other than a long draw out call to where the water-hole is. Likewise, when I am searching for meaning, I don’t use my trained state of mind, because I always end up at the water-hole.

    I use the language I were born with, a language that holds untold knowledge inherent in being, the First-Language, which my mind reverts to each evening when I dream. The problem is, our mind-training renders us illiterate to the First-Language, because they are mutually exclusive mindsets, which is why our dreams vanish the moment we become conscious.

    IOWs, our training renders us illiterate to what is meaningful, hence god.

    Edmund Dalpe, MFA.
    Author of Dream Duet

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