Recently some of our opponents have trotted out the old, long-since debunked, unsupportable universal claim “there is no evidence of God”. Let me illustrate how this is just another emotionally-addicted, rhetorical maxim atheists cling to without any real thought in the matter.
Facts, as defined by Merriam-Webster:
something that truly exists or happens : something that has actual existence : a true piece of information”. According to Wiki, a scientific fact is: an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.”
Merriam Webster says the evidence is
“something which shows that something else exists or is true”.
Obviously, “something else” is not directly observable as a fact, or else one wouldn’t need evidence for it.
Wiki says that scientific evidence is
That which serves to either support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis.
People that claim to “go where the evidence leads” are fundamentally missing the fact that without an interpretive expectation, facts don’t lead anywhere. They are just brute facts that stand alone without any theoretical associations.
Theories explain or interpret facts, describing their place in a contextual framework. Facts, when thusly interpreted, support or contradict those theories. Facts do not come with interpretations or conceptual frameworks. Interpretations exist in the mind of the individual considering a fact. Without a framework that contextualizes the facts in a system of expectations and meaning, facts are just brute sensory data. Facts don’t “lead” anwhere; they only lead where interpretations, intuition, logic or insight can support and understand them. Language itself categorizes the expression of facts into a systematic framework of expectations.
We expect facts to make sense within a consistent and reliable framework of coherent, causal space-time (an interpretive framework). We expect to find recognizable patterns. We expect our environment to have an understandable quality about it. We expect that we can make models that will not only explain facts, but predict them as well. We replace old models with ones that better explain and predict facts in a practical, useful manner.
What does it mean to say: “There is no evidence of god”, when any number of empirical facts can be interpreted favorably towards the existence of a god as commonly referred to as a supremely intelligent creator of the universe and source of goodness and moral law? Setting aside logical and moral arguments, personal experience, testimony and anecdote (all of which count as forms of evidence as I previously wrote about here), if one has a hypothesis that such a god exists, how can it be reasonable for atheists to claim that no physical facts can be interpreted to support the existence of that kind of god? Of course they can – billions do it every day.
Atheists do not have a copyright on how facts can be reasonably interpreted. Much of the successful heuristic of modern science was founded entirely upon theistic expectations of a rationally understandable universe, metaphysical laws that governed the universe, and a god that favored elegance, efficiency and beauty. They often referred to their scientific work as uncovering the mind of God.
Simply put, the atheist interprets certain sets of facts according to the expectation “there is no god”. The theist interprets those facts in light of the hypothesis that there is a god. Just because the atheist doesn’t consider the god hypothesis doesn’t mean that facts cannot be intepreted to support that hypothesis.
Take for instance the fine-tuning facts. Each of those force/material constants are facts. Scores of them appear to be fine-tuned for the existence of a universe that can support life. Take also for instance the advanced nano-technology of living cells. These facts can certainly be supportive of the hypothesis that an intelligent, creative god designed the universe and life. Now, throw in the logical arguments, anecdotes and the testimony of billions of people for thousands of years; it is a blatantly false lie or sheer denial to claim that there is “no” evidence for a god of some sort, when the term “evidence” means, among other things, an interpretation of facts that support a theory or hypothesis. Evidence can also mean testimony; it can refer to circumstantial or anecdotal evidence; it can refer to logical, rational arguments in support of an assertion.
I’ve come to view many anti-ID advocates as having profound psychological resistance to anything that remotely points to the existence of a god of some sort. This cathexis seems to be a deep-rooted hostility towards the god concept in general that generates an almost hypnotic form of neuro-linguistic programming where they cannot see what is before them, and also leads them to see things that are not there.
Atheists/physicalists often talk about “believing what the evidence dictates”, but fail to understand that “evidence” is an interpretation of facts. Facts don’t “lead” anywhere in and of themselves; they carry with them no conceptual framework that dictates how they “should” fit into any hypothesis or pattern. Even the language by which one describes a fact necessarily frames that fact in a certain conceptual framework that may be counterproductive.
Atheists first preclude “god” from being an acceptable hypothesis, and then say “there is no evidence of god”. Well, Duh. The only way there could be evidence of god is if you first accept it as a hypothesis by which one interprets or explains facts.
“God” is a perfectly good hypothesis for explaining many facts especially in light of supporting testimonial, anecdotal, logical and circumstatial evidences. When an atheist says “there is no evidence for god”, what they are really saying (but are psychologically blind to it) is: There is no god, so there cannot be evidence for it. Their conclusion comes first, and so no evidence – in their mind, irrationally – can exist for that which does not – cannot – exist.
There is evidence that all sorts of things are true or exist; that doesn’t mean they actually exist, or are actually true – just that some facts can be interpreted to support the theory. To claim “there is no evidence for god” is absurd; atheists may not be convinced by the evidence, and they may not interpret the evidence in light of a “god hypothesis”. But to claim it is not evidence at all reveals uncompromising ideological denial. If one cannot even admit that there is evidence of god for those who interpret facts from that hypothesis, they cannot be reasoned with.