Recently, our WJM offered:
Debunking The Old “There Is No Evidence of God” Canard
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. More.
I sometimes get lassoed into such discussions and have found three rules to help:
1. First, find out if the person is a pure naturalist atheist who believes that nature is all there is, everything just somehow happened, and our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. If so, get out of the discussion. It cannot, in principle, go anywhere. Among naturalists, all relationships are power relationships. They cannot, by definition, be idea relationships. Naturalists accept that and behave as if it were true; there is no use arguing with them about it.
2. Stay in the discussion if your conversation partner is a non-naturalist atheist, someone who knows that nature is not all there is.
Very well, world religions are divided on whether there is a God. Buddhists don’t believe that there is a God, in the Western sense; Hindu views on the subject seem hard to classify in Western terms. But we press on; we all accept that we can reason our way to some kind of understanding.
For one thing:
Naturalist: He who dies with the most toys wins (because he ceases to exist).
Buddhist/Hindu: He who dies with the most toys may have a lot to answer for in future lives. That is not a naturalist idea.
We now have a discussion among human beings rather than a squabble among animals over a carcass.
3. Ask, at some point, is there any evidence that would change a conversation partner’s mind.
If so, what type of evidence matters? Personal experience? Fine-tuning of the universe? Design in life?
Are arguments against the existence of God based implicitly on theology (= how could God, if he existed, allow such suffering)? Could they be answered by convincing counterarguments?
Now one can have a normal conversation, exploring different approaches. That’s a part of advanced civilization.
See also: Debunking The Old “There Is No Evidence of God” Canard
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