Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Evidence of God

In my experience, believers continually assert that the evidence of god's existence is "overwhelming" and "everywhere".  Inevitably, this "evidence" turns out to be yet another version of their circular reasoning based on the assumption that god exists and that there is no other explanation for the existence of the universe.

Not too long ago I came across a theist's attempt to lay out the "evidence" he saw for god's existence.  In a nutshell, the arguments he thought were telling were as follows:

1) Evidence for God is found in the beginning of the universe (Big Bang Cosmology).   2) Evidence for God is found in the fine-tuning of the initial constants and conditions found in the Big Bang itself for the allowance of intelligent life. 3) God best explains the existence of objective moral values and duties. 4) Evidence for God is found in the historical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Keep in mind these are summations.

I have been asking believers for nearly 40 years to show me some evidence and they never have been able to.  Every bit of evidence boils down to a theist saying some version of "I can't believe the universe or some part of it exists without having been created".  And, in fact, that is all that is offered here.

Most of them simply engage in name-calling and tell me to read some authority.  (Dinesh D'Souza is a classic example.)  Well, if they are so sure that this authority is worth my time, then tell me why I should bother to waste my time reading one more version of the argument from personal incredulity intertwined with god of the gaps argument.  That's all they've got:  They can't come close to explaining the universe, therefore god exists.  I inevitably find that if I make any effort to read their authority, I will find only this sort of "reasoning", or else an attack on reason itself.

Why can't they just admit that they don't know where the universe came from?  It's the truth.

Non-believers should ask them exactly that question in these situations, in addition to my suggestion that one should point out that anyone who claims to know is a liar, a fool, or a madman.

The existence of the universe or any part of it proves absolutely NOTHING about where it came from. To say that it does is to engage in the purest circular reasoning possible.  The existence of the universe is the very question that they are trying to answer with the god hypothesis.  To say that the existence of the question proves your answer only shows that you had already assumed your answer was the right one--or only one.  Frankly, they haven't even shown that their answer deserves to be included in the list of possible answers.

"'An invisible magic man in the sky did it' is not a respectable theory of cosmology."

The fact that they or any other theist can't imagine another explanation isn't even relevant to the question.  The beginnings of the universe do not depend on our ability to imagine them any more than the existence of gravity depended on the imagination of those who believed in the flat earth held up by a god theory.

The debunking of the flat earth held up by a god theory showed clearly that all such "I can't explain it, therefore god" arguments are invalid.  Though I think that point should have been obvious long before that.

Their reasoning fails because they are trying to apply their earthly assumptions to a situation that is completely different.  Just like those who assumed their knowledge of falling objects must apply to the Earth as an object.

The second point that the theist made about the "fine-tuning" of the universe is a popular one these days.  It is, however, just another way of saying that the universe is "just right" for us.

The universe seems just right for us because we evolved here.  If it were different, we would have evolved differently or not at all.  The universe wasn't made for us--it made us, we are part of it.  How could it not be "just right" for us?

They think this point is telling only because of their habit of circular reasoning.  They implicitly assume god made the universe with us in mind--otherwise this "argument" would make no sense at all--which means that the "argument" is based on an assumption that the conclusion is true.  Circular reasoning.

The idea that "god best explains" morality is also based on circular reasoning, in addition to willful ignorance and willful failure to think.  It is incredibly obvious that no group of creatures could live together as a group without some sort of implicit or explicit behavioral guidelines.  The more complex the behaviors of the individual group members, the more complex the guidelines will have to be.  And, in fact, scientific inquiry has shown this to be quite true of humans as well as lower animals.  Reason best explains morality.

The final bit of "evidence" offered, personal belief in the Jesus myth, is not even evidence--except with regard to the fact that the person is a believer.  First, there's no evidence that these myths are facts.  Just because someone chooses to believe it doesn't make it fact.  Though the fact that he would include it in that list proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is engaging in circular reasoning--he is essentially arguing that his religion proves his religion.  In fact, it shows that he is so firmly in the habit of circular reasoning that he is completely unaware of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment