Sunday, 1 November 2015

What proof or evidence is there for the claim: 'God does not exist?' Round 2

Sometimes, just for fun, I will see what the atheists of the internet have to offer the discussion about the existence of God.

It's a simple challenge. I ask atheists to present any evidence or argument that supports the claim 'there is no god'.
It started out as a simple request, but over time I've had to add little notes to the question to try and stop heaps of irrelevant comments. Many still ignore the notes but that just goes to show me that they're not really engaging the simple question, and probably rarely do.

Here's a link to some previous responses.

Anyway, after a recent attempt, here are some of the lame answers I received.

This was the original post:

Notice how I make a point of saying this isn't about the definition of 'atheism' because I know that's a stumbling block for many. I make it clear that I'm asking about the statement 'there is no god'.

And here come the responses!

Zero evidence for a deity is there? Then what's all this stuff about cosmological arguments, indisputable facts about the life of Jesus, objective morality, and signs of design? Off to a bad start there with your completely wrong statement. They do say start every speech with a joke...

On (1): When an atheist mentions contradictions, it's always helpful if they offer at least one. In my studies I've found that every apparent contradiction evaporates when you learn a thing or two about context.

On (2): Although there is little evidence for some things, there is a lot for others, and enough to fill gaps. As it happens, the evidence for the Exodus is incredible if you ignore the common poorly founded assumption that Ramses was the Pharoah who Moses lived with and place events a couple of centuries earlier. BTW: a coprolite is a lump of fossilised faeces. I think archaeologists mainly tend to search for things like tools and coins...

On (3): Well that's just ridiculous. Go down that path and you have to believe no one in history existed... Jesus is better documented than Socrates and Alexander the Great.

On (4): What does it matter how many people claim to be divine? If one of them can back it up, then there's something to talk about, and Jesus was that guy!

On (5): The different denominations in Christianity get confusing sure, but that's because the Bible is so rich with information and meaning, but written in an unfamiliar language! Translation is tough, interpretation is tough, but very few denominations are likely to say that their small sect and their precise understanding of the text is the only way to salvation. They all have the same core beliefs, and they are the ones that are important.
What's the issue with differing opinions anyway? There are at least ten theories about how quantum physics works. Does the fact that people don't all agree on every detail mean that they are all wrong? Obviously not...

I don't know how asking a question or requesting evidence can be 'skewing' anything! This just amounts to a dodge. If it's not a dodge and is simply a non-theist getting involved, then they haven't paid attention to the note that says I only want to hear from proper atheists.

And why ask for a personal study into what atheists call themselves? What is that?!

Another who doesn't get that I'm not interested in the definition of 'atheism'. I'm asking quite clearly about a statement.

 And a couple more...
And another who didn't really engage with the question. I asked for evidence for the claim 'there is no god'. I made no claims myself. If Collider doesn't make that claim, then he had no business responding!
He goes on to ask for my evidence for a claim I never made. If anyone is shifting the burden of proof here, it's quite clearly him!
He then concludes that a lack of evidence for one thing is evidence for the opposite, despite there being no evidence for the opposite either. What a load of nonsense...

 I like that this guy attempted to form a philosophical argument. He didn't actually give any support for the premises though. Off the bat, P1 is pretty clearly false anyway, so there's no need to bother.
This is all tied up with the' hiddenness' of God, which is actually something to be expected in Christianity.
As Blaise Pascal put it: "Thus wishing to appear openly to those who seek him with all their heart, and hidden from those who shun him with all their heart, he has qualified our knowledge of him by giving signs which can be seen by those who seek him and not by those who do not. There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition."

 Mr Wally gives one of the worst reasons for strong atheism anyone could muster.

He carries on with another awful response. It's extraordinary claims by another name! Using the word 'fantastic' or 'extraordinary' to describe something is only relevant to the person who says it. Something unusual to one person, might be completely normal to another. The description is useless.

He also chimes in with this gem. The burden of proof always rests on a person making a claim. The claim in question is 'god does not exist'. The burden is all on Mr Wally.

From time to time, you do get a response with some substance to it. There are some reasonable points here, but they do all have answers.
(2) hiddenness is to be expected, (3) suffering is also to be expected, (4) range of beliefs is to do with a mixture of progressive revelations and human error when it comes to interpretations, (5) who would think up the trinity or the crucifixion?, (6) what experience?...
I think this whole thing rests on (1), his starting point. He defines God in a certain way and then when things don't quite fit, he throws God out and also throws out any other possible definition too. I understand why he might think (1), it is an approximation of Christianity. Leaving that aside for a moment, (1) completely ignores deism or pantheism and probably several other types of theism, so this whole thing is really only an argument against the Biblical God.
But considering that Christianity has complete and sound answers to points 2 to 6, then (1) is not actually an issue, and just needs to be reworked a little.
At least this answer was a lot more thought through than the previous ones, and isn't obvious nonsense!

 And we're back to nonsense... How much more manifest do you want than Jesus? God in human form, walking among us and showing the world who he was once and for all!

I'm also sensing that the word 'faith' here is being used to mean 'blind faith', which is plain daft.
 Hey, why not start with an assumption! That's the way to find truth! Oh boy...
God wants more than to have his existence acknowledged. He wants people to come to him and become partners in trying to make the world a better place.
Check with any theologian, philosopher, or the Bible to see that it's obvious that great shows of power aren't going to win the love and respect of everybody. God's plan is more intricate and a whole lot cleverer than that!

God can do anything that is logically possible. I guess that would include covering his/her tracks. I just wonder why he/she would want to? I guess this atheist is admitting defeat when it comes to deism... still no reason to not believe in the kind of God who has revealed himself through tons of evidential support!

Ooh! A long answer! Oh... it doesn't say anything worthwhile...
Blah blah atheist burden of proof... blah blah null hypothesis... blah blah extraordinary claims... blah blah poorly defined... blah blah blah.
Ok. There's a nugget of meat at the bottom of this word salad! Let's see.
Success of science? What does that even mean? Quick response: Albert Einstein says, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." I'm sure Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Max Planck, and a heap of other renowned scientists would agree that there is no conflict between science and religion. 
Suffering? Although it's a tough subject, it has been thoroughly dealt with and is no reason for atheism.
Evidence for mind-body materialism? There isn't any... I'm pretty sure mind-body dualism is winning that race!
Consistent failure of miracle claims? Ask Craig Keener and Gary Habermas about that.
Hiddenness again? Yawn...
Evolution? What kind? And what evidence? And even if there was evidence for macro-evolution, how does that affect the existence of God in any way?
And many more...? Well if that's the best you have, I'm thankful you stopped there!

Final Thought

When you ask the question "Is there a god?" there are only two possible answers: yes or no.
Sure, an individual can say "I don't know", but when it comes down to the options for truth in reality, it's either "he does" or "he doesn't".

When people consistently reject the evidence for God's existence, they can only really place themselves in the 'no' camp. There is nowhere else to go. 

I think it's OK to be agnostic and unsure, but if you are, then you should keep looking until you have a 'yes' or 'no' answer. Don't just stop and sit on the fence.

The way I see it, there is an almost endless amount of evidence that tells us the God of the Bible is real and is working in our lives. There is nothing that says he doesn't. Nothing.

So seeing as all the clues are pointing in one direction and nothing in the other, shouldn't it be obvious that God is real?

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.  -- Romans 1:20