Evidence for God, part 2

In a recent blog exchange, a believer challenged s group of atheists to think of a deceased person they knew, and then prove that person existed. There was a chorus of ridicule, basically pointing to multiple kinds of written documents that supported the existence of the dear departed. This raises the obvious question, why are all those documents valid, but the documents supporting the existence of God are not?
It’s really no answer to say, “Show me a photo of God.” The deficiency of this response requires a little logical analysis. If you were an atheist, you wouldn’t deny the existence of gravity because I don’t have a photo of gravity. You would say, “Gravity is not the sort of thing that can be photographed. But I can show other evidence.”
My response is, God is in the same logical category; he’s not the sort of thing that can be photographed, or detected with a scale or a Geiger counter.
“But,” I think you would object, “I can show some Laboratory Evidence, quantifiable, verifiable, that gravity exists. Let’s see you do that with God.”
One response is, “Show me quantifiable, verifiable evidence that consciousness exists.” You might think you can, because you can put electrodes on a conscious person’s scalp, and you’ll detect electric activity. But that’s not consciousness. If you passed your electrodes to me and then went into another room to monitor the equipment, you wouldn’t be able to tell if I had hooked up the electrodes to a conscious person or to a computer-controlled device programmed to generate electrical impulses that simulated the brain activity of a conscious person. Consciousness is more than what we can detect in the laboratory.
All these show-me-the-evidence arguments assume that God is the sort of thing that can be tested in a laboratory, which even believers don’t believe. So it’s a straw man argument.
I’d still say it’s intellectually respectable to be an agnostic, although it displays a failure of nerve. But to be an atheist, you have to be a partisan, accepting certain premises as matters of dogma (e.g. No God is worthy of belief unless he is UL approved). The trouble is, the dogmas are internally inconsistent, and atheists continue to live their lives like they really believe in things – thank God!


2 comments on “Evidence for God, part 2

  1. Ian Corzine says:

    Very thought-provoking!

  2. Matthew Collado says:

    I’m curious why the entirety of the above is marshaled to the implicit defense of Catholicism rather than, say, Shi’a Islam, or one of the thousands of animisms still vibrantly practiced worldwide. You’ll find plenty of sincere ‘testimony’ claimed as evidence in any sect – if empirical logic has been jettisoned, by what means do we differentiate between them? And don’t we have the same responsibility to investigate them all? Ought we not seriously contend with the anecdotal experiences of Shi’as as possible evidence of the veracity of their sect’s claims? Either one’s right, or they’re all right, or . . .

    Now, to import my riposte from our facebook roundtable, so as to unclutter Mary’s photo –
    Glenn. First of all, I was attempting to exempt myself from a claim made on my behalf without my consultation in someone else’s cosmological meta-narrative that does not account for my own values. What’s more rude, Glenn; that I object to being fodder drafted into someone’s precious ancient Greco-Semetic superstitions, or that you say that I am ‘unwilling to think’ because I doubt that upon the death of an ancient Palestinian carpenter that the residents of Jerusalem raised, zombie-like, from their graves in order to walk the city and meet their former friends. Some logic, huh? And some evidence too – apparently postmortem resurrection was something of a banality in that time. While I do consider the criticism of the Parties of God to be the foundation of all other criticism, these debates touch none of my own nerves as they seem to other people’s – I have little personally at stake in the ancient Middle East. I spend my time, rather, investigating its MODERN cultural, linguistic and political contours. In so far as I dont ‘think’ about the tedious subjects outlined above, nor apply ‘logic’ to them, it is precisely due to their incongruence with such categories of analysis. If you want to have a logicical conversation, you better be able to define what ‘logical’ means in the first place, before you say my ‘unthinking’ tendencies prohibit me from exercising it. I’m a student of philosophy too, and so I need no lessons on formal logic. The basic standard should be the burden of proof – I’m not the one making extraordinary claims which therefore require extraordinary evidence. You’re the one putting claims on MY table which no theologian – from Augustine to Aquinas – has ever been able to justify, thus leading them into tautologies about the necessity of faith. If you’d like to step up to the plate and offer ‘logical’ evidence for your claims, thus superseding the most acclaimed theologians of all time, you will be the greatest champion of theism in world history. If not you better take refuge in the position of the most sophisticated of your fellow believers – that actual evidence is irrelevant to the commitment to the Christ. It seems to me any attempt to prove the literal rather than symbolic significance of this kind of text is an exercise in fundamentalism. Any further discussion on such subjects will necessarily take place over a dinner of unleavened bread, salted fish, and red wine, your tab! 🙂

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