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10: The complete lack of solid evidence for God's existence.

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From: "The Top 10 Reasons I Don't Believe in God" by Greta Christina

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10: The complete lack of solid evidence for God's existence.

This is probably the best argument I have against God's existence: There's no evidence for it. No good evidence, anyway. No evidence that doesn't just amount to opinion and tradition and confirmation bias and all the other stuff I've been talking about. No evidence that doesn't fall apart upon close examination.

And in a perfect world, that should have been the only argument I needed. In a perfect world, I shouldn't have had to spend a month and a half collating and summarizing the reasons I don't believe in God, any more than I would have for Zeus or Quetzalcoatl or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. As thousands of atheists before me have pointed out: It is not up to us to prove that God does not exist. It is up to theists to prove that he does.

In a comment on my blog, arensb made a point on this topic that was so insightful, I'm still smacking myself on the head for not having thought of it myself. I was writing about how believers get upset at atheists when we reject religion after hearing 876,363 bad arguments for it, and how believers react to this by saying, "But you haven't considered Argument #876,364! How can you be so close-minded?" And arensb said:

"If, in fact, it turns out that argument #876,364 is the one that will convince you, WTF didn't the apologists put it in the top 10?"

Why, indeed?

If there's an argument for religion that's convincing -- actually convincing, convincing by means of something other than authority, tradition, personal intuition, confirmation bias, fear and intimidation, wishful thinking, or some combination of the above -- wouldn't we all know about it?

Wouldn't it have spread like wildfire? Wouldn't it be the Meme of All Memes? I mean, we all saw that Simon's Cat video within about two weeks of it hitting the Internet. Don't you think that the Truly Excellent Argument for God's Existence would have spread even faster, and wider, than some silly cartoon cat video?

If the arguments for religion are so wonderful, why are they so unconvincing to anyone who doesn't already believe?

And why does God need arguments, anyway? Why does God need people to make his arguments for him? Why can't he just reveal his true self, clearly and unequivocally, and settle the question once and for all? If God existed, why wouldn't it just be obvious?

It is not up to atheists to prove that God does not exist. It is up to believers to prove that he does. And in the absence of any good, solid evidence or arguments in favor of God's existence -- and in the presence of a whole lot of solid arguments against it -- I will continue to be an atheist. God almost certainly does not exist, and it's completely reasonable to act as if he doesn't.

by on Jul. 11, 2012 at 7:43 AM
Replies (41-48):
Meadowchik
by Christian on Dec. 20, 2012 at 3:30 AM

Not exactly.  It is arguable that you and others are influenced by the higher probability that there will be external consequences from breaking a law. 

Furthermore, we are not just talking about behavioral conditioning, but cognitive, as well.  Certainly our thoughts would be different if we knew without any concievable doubt the existence (and in all likelihood by extension, the character and even possibly the knowledge of God. )

Quoting Clairwil:

 

Quoting Meadowchik:

 "And why does God need arguments, anyway? Why does God need people to make his arguments for him? Why can't he just reveal his true self, clearly and unequivocally, and settle the question once and for all? If God existed, why wouldn't it just be obvious?"

If it were obvious, all all people knew without a doubt that God exists, then as beings we would never have a free, independent experience.

I live in Britain.  I have large amounts of evidence available to me that the police and law courts exist, and that they have a higher than 90% clean up rate on murders.

This doesn't remove my free will.   I'm still as capable of killing as I was previously.  Having that evidence just means that I'm aware of the consequences.  People have the free will to do stupid things.  Being aware of the consequences for murdering someone doesn't prevent murder, any more than being aware of the consequences of jumping off cliffs stops everyone from jumping off cliffs (every year there are bodies found at the base of cliffs.  some people are just fools - their choice.)

 

Meadowchik
by Christian on Dec. 20, 2012 at 4:01 AM

 

Quoting Clairwil:

In any case, why should a person who decides not to kill his neighbour because he is a Christian and 100% believes (though faith) that if he did kill his neighbour he'd burn in hell

be considered morally superior to

a person who decides not to kill his neighbour because in the year 2015, God decided to carve in 1000 km tall letters of golden fire on the face of the moon, "Thou shalt not kill."

 

Either the believer believes or they don't.   If they believe then why is it relevant that the source of their belief is through faith rather than through the evidence of their own eyes?

 For one thing, the moon example could be easily explained away as a hoax created by television or NASA.  No, the real example of absolute knowledge would include memories, memories of existing before having a body, before the creation of the earth, then seeing a convincing match between the events we remember, what others remember, and what observation confirms to have been the case, after the fact. 

Compare this to a person who

Believes, based on a combination and reason and observation--which is used and encouraged by Jesus Christ in His teachings--that God's plan is based on love and intended for the ultimate and enduring joy of us, His children, and that intentionally hurting or killing the innocent would change us, degrade us, and make us unhappy and unable to bear the prolonged presence of a knowing, loving God, in such a way that it would be as much a Hell as any description of burning can depict.

The difference between the former resisting murder and the latter resisting murder is faith, not about scoring righteousness points. The latter has had much more experience testing hypotheses and then proving or disproving them, especially as the active participant, not just observer, in the inquiry. God wants us to benefit from the edifying experience of making choices involving the complexity of the known and unknown.

 

 

SWISSuz
by New Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Pardon me for jumping in on page 5, so late in the game.  I'm trying to catch up with this conversation.  I just joined the site to discuss this very thing, but I come in to a thread #10 about a solid lack of evidence of God....

What happened to 1-9....or is this a top ten list?  I'm very interested in various ways atheists think.....as well as Christians.  Everyone is different....we all come about our conclusions differently.....man is truly fallible, so I doubt any of us have the devine truth as God would have it......nor is there one tenet to atheism.  I'm looking forward to a civil and respectful exchange of thoughts.

Clairwil
by Group Owner on Dec. 31, 2012 at 3:56 AM
Quoting Meadowchik: 
Quoting Clairwil:

in the year 2015, God decided to carve in 1000 km tall letters of golden fire on the face of the moon, "Thou shalt not kill."

 For one thing, the moon example could be easily explained away as a hoax created by television or NASA.

I was referencing a more detailed example from another thread:


The location is the Mercedes-Benz superdome in New Orleans:


The date is Feb 3rd, 2013

The event is the 47th NFL Superbowl, with 75,000 people at the stadium watching it in person and another 100,000,000 people watching it televised live via multiple channels and cameras.

The time is 12 noon, and Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black are just starting the second verse of their duet version of "Its Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday" when a lightning bolt strikes through the roof of the stadium smiting them and an enormous voice cries out "Enough!".   With a swell of trumpets the clouds above the stadium re-form themselves into an arm and hand miles across in size which reaches down from above and lowers through the new hole, down to the smoking stage, a glowing winged figure with golden glowing eyes, 10 feet tall and carrying a burning sword.

Saying not a word, the figure slowly slashes a message, writ onto the wall of the dome in letters of fire and SIMULTANEOUSLY, stroke for stroke, appearing in 1000 mile long letters of solid burnished gold laid flat on the surface of the moon, each stroke having a cross section of a mile high and 10 miles wide.

In memory of my dearly beloved Son, Jesus of Nazareth, I (the supreme creator of the entire universe) will move Mount Everest to a safe location near a different city every December 25th, to remind humanity that I exist and do not look kindly upon humans who murder other humans (*some terms and conditions apply: see Bible)


After the last stroke of the sword, the Angel ascends again into the clouds, leaving gape mouthed cameramen, and lots of live salmon in place of nachos.  Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black are resurrected, but now only sing gospel music.

On 25th December, Mount Everest is replaced with a lake of salt water and reappears 1km off New York without causing so much as a ripple or tremor.


Ok, what happens?


Well, all the live witnesses probably record statements, like the Nizkor project recorded the memories of holocaust survivors.

After a week, NASA announces that they have checked the gravitational pull of the moon and, yes, it has been increased.   Several different nations send missions to the moon and, yes, the letters are solid gold.  The Russians and Chinese both bring back several tons of 'evidence'.  The price of gold plumments.

Millions of people travel to New York, take a boat trip out to a hastily constructed pier (why bother with something nice, if it will only be around for a year), and take spiritual hikes up using specially imported celebrity sherpas.


Nobody is going to disagree over the physical facts of WHAT happened.

There will be some initial disagreement over how it happened.  Was that an actual angel, or was it a robot doll?  Were halicinogens and fancy CGI graphics used to fake the New Orleans event?   But the evidence mounts up.  All the inhabitants of New Orleans saw the hand, not just the people in the stadium.   And the live salmon are more than all the fish farms in America could have supplied.   The gold samples from the moon turn out to be isotopically pure.

Some people will suggest Star Trek like aliens, with teleporters and nanotechnology.  And you're right, one couldn't rule out such a hypothesis.  But a purely human agency from our current time period could be ruled out.

Clairwil
by Group Owner on Dec. 31, 2012 at 9:51 AM
Quoting Meadowchik:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting Meadowchik:

If it were obvious, if all people knew without a doubt that God exists, then as beings we would never have a free, independent experience.

I live in Britain.  I have large amounts of evidence available to me that the police and law courts exist, and that they have a higher than 90% clean up rate on murders.

This doesn't remove my free will.   I'm still as capable of killing as I was previously.  Having that evidence just means that I'm aware of the consequences.  People have the free will to do stupid things.  Being aware of the consequences for murdering someone doesn't prevent murder, any more than being aware of the consequences of jumping off cliffs stops everyone from jumping off cliffs (every year there are bodies found at the base of cliffs.  some people are just fools - their choice.)

 Not exactly.  It is arguable that you and others are influenced by the higher probability that there will be external consequences from breaking a law.

Certainly people are influenced, in their decision of whether to murder or not, by the knowledge that they are very likely to get caught if they do murder.

But is that the same as not having free will?

Because, if so, then to argue that God currently leaves humans free will, you'd be arguing that God (and any records of God's past actions, such as sending Jesus down) have zero influence upon humans.

Clairwil
by Group Owner on Dec. 31, 2012 at 9:59 AM
Quoting Meadowchik:

Furthermore, we are not just talking about behavioral conditioning, but cognitive, as well.  Certainly our thoughts would be different if we knew without any concievable doubt the existence (and in all likelihood by extension, the character and even possibly the knowledge of God. )

Why would he need to go as far as the sort of mind control / direct mind influence, that you're talking about here.

To argue that current amount of 'solid evidence' is optimal, you need to make the case that ANY increase in the amount of evidence, no matter how small, would be bad for us.

It is a sliding scale.   Currently about a third of the planet believes in the Christian deity.   You can imagine evidence that would increase that to half.   A bit more evidence, that would increase it to 75%.   Some pretty convincing evidence that would increase it to 95%, and yet more solid evidence that would take it to 99.9%.

It isn't all or nothing.

So why is there the absolute paucity of solid evidence that we have currently?

Is it just coincidence that the current level of solid evidence is exactly the same level that we'd expect if God didn't actually exist?

Meadowchik
by Christian on Jan. 4, 2013 at 9:22 AM

 

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Meadowchik:

Furthermore, we are not just talking about behavioral conditioning, but cognitive, as well.  Certainly our thoughts would be different if we knew without any concievable doubt the existence (and in all likelihood by extension, the character and even possibly the knowledge of God. )

Why would he need to go as far as the sort of mind control / direct mind influence, that you're talking about here.

?

I was not referring to some sort of mind control as it is traditionally understood.  Consider the effects of knowing that if you step in front of a garbage truck, it will with almost complete certainty hit you and harm you, very likely killing you.  As a result of this, one could argue that a garbage truck hurling down the street engages in a type of mind control to individuals who are sane, at the very least minimally intelligent and survival-seeking.   You could say the same about a good thing, too, that a table set with an array of hot and cold delicacies and food groups, offered on a continual basis for free to people would result in a sort of mind control.  Therefore, it would make sense that, assuming a God in Heaven who wants us to have the best from a mortal experience, especially one that is only part of a bigger experience, that we do not know all all at once.

To argue that current amount of 'solid evidence' is optimal, you need to make the case that ANY increase in the amount of evidence, no matter how small, would be bad for us.

For instance?

It is a sliding scale.   Currently about a third of the planet believes in the Christian deity.   You can imagine evidence that would increase that to half.   A bit more evidence, that would increase it to 75%.   Some pretty convincing evidence that would increase it to 95%, and yet more solid evidence that would take it to 99.9%.

It isn't all or nothing.

That's quite an assumption. 

With one mathematical premise I could create an entirely new school of mathematical study!  Tiny iterations CAN change the knowledge base disproportionately.  Remember that a major reason the modern world has become more secular is exactly because of the lack of solid, unequivocal evidence for one theist worldview.  IF that weren't the case, then the "certainty" with which the Inquisition took place would still exist and would be handily abused ad infinitum among us, flawed beings as we are.

So why is there the absolute paucity of solid evidence that we have currently?

Is it just coincidence that the current level of solid evidence is exactly the same level that we'd expect if God didn't actually exist?

If true, it makes perfect sense in the context of a god who wants people to have the ability to develop faith, rather than merely be computers.

 

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