Wednesday, October 11, 2006

We have a title box, you know. The rest of you can use it, too.

I’m looking out my office window, and I see two little girls.

I see no evidence that the first little girl has a father. Sure, I can assume she does. Somebody lent the DNA to her birth. But looking at her, I see no evidence that he is in her life at all. As far as I can tell, she’s being raised by a single mom. Maybe even by grandparents.

I see no evidence that the other little girl has parents at all. I see no reason to believe that she wasn’t created in a test tube, placed into a surrogate for gestation and birth, and then raised in a laboratory.

These are facts, just like the facts that Grandpa John lists in his last post. However, that I see no evidence means absolutely nothing. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

More recently, Todd writes: “I have repeatedly stated that atheists don't need to make such a statement. We don't need any statement at all. It's the religious believers who make the assertion: 'God exists and has the following characteristics...' My response to this assertion is, and has always been, 'gee, how do you know that?'”

In one way, Todd’s correct. Nobody needs to make any statement. Christians generally hope to spread their faith to others, while atheists, as far as I know, don’t. Neither do agnostics. So Christians are more likely to make some kind of argument, but nobody has to.

But why is atheism the default position? One side has to explain their belief, while the other side gets a pass. That doesn’t make sense.

The assertion ‘God doesn’t exist.’ is just as much a positive statement as “God exists.” It implies a logical conclusion. A logical conclusion implies that facts have been ascertained. Facts can be verified. You must have followed some logical path to reach that conclusion.

I should mention that there's nothing wrong with not being sure. With not choosing a side. I'm not always sure of myself - in fact, I rarely am. I’m frequently unsure of what I believe, mostly because I can’t logically prove the existence of God. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite. Whatever. Seems to me that everybody thinks atheism is more logical than Christianity, so if anybody should have to logically prove something, it’s atheists.

We’re just having a conversation here. Just trying to satisfy my own curiosity. Nobody’s trying to convince anybody else of anything. Surely we can discuss this in the abstract. My question to this group of people who grew up (or raised their kids) with a serious appreciation for logic and critical thinking: how do atheists know there isn’t a God?


Omni said...

"Christians generally hope to spread their faith to others, while atheists, as far as I know, don’t. Neither do agnostics."

Sure they do!! People of non-Christian religions are as eager to gain converts as Christians, and there are lots of folks with non-theist spiritual beliefs, such as yours truly, who make serious efforts at either conversion or at least persuasive explanation.

Scott H said...

Okay, there is little that can be known with 100% certainty. The reality is that no one really has to prove anything, just do enough to convince. With this, the burden logically rests on the one who seeks to assert the existence of anything. Why? Because being able to absolutely prove something does not exist (say even my friend Jon Fdljdas, who I just made up) is quite difficult and rare, whereas proving that somethng does exist is much easier, because it requires only to show it, or evidence of it. Thus if both fail, the one who fails to accomplish the easier task is to be doubted more.

Okay, I'm kinda drunk. Did that make any sense.?