If Good Evidence For Your God Exists, Then Why…

We all know people who hold their views for reasons we see as vacuous (See: Emotional Problems, The Price Of Tea In China).  Even people we would consider otherwise intelligent.  I’m going to pick on skeptics here because, by and large, they claim to hold the intellectual high ground when it comes to reason, logic, and critical thinking.  After all, science is on their side.  But sometimes they make the most unintelligent arguments and objections trying to undermine theism.  Here’s one I don’t hear often, but when I do I am befuddled at how seriously empty it is: If good evidence for your God exists, then why are there so many people who don’t believe it (i.e., Atheists, other religious adherents, etc.)?

Here’s the thing, I don’t really think this even a convincing objection to the skeptic making it.  It seems like a last-ditch effort when they’ve exhausted all other avenues of interrogation.  The obvious answer is that people hold some of their views in spite of the evidence, not because of it.  I have talked to Atheists who have candidly admitted that if Christianity were true they still wouldn’t believe it.

Whether the evidence is good or not is in the eye of the beholder.  People interpret evidence.  Whether someone is compelled to concede their position in the face of the evidence is wholly up to the one perceiving it.  Just like the skeptic who says extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is the arbiter of what counts as extraordinary, so too does the one demanding good evidence determine what qualifies as good evidence.  The skeptic in this case acts as judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney, talk about a mistrial!

To illustrate how truly empty this question is, just ask yourself:

  • If there are good reasons and evidence that Liberal views on economic and social issues are true, then why are there Conservatives?
  • If there is good evidence for a naturalistic evolutionary process to explain the biological diversity on Earth, why are their still deniers of evolution?
  • If there is good evidence that global warming is caused by man’s intrusion, why are their still deniers?

The argument would look something like this:

  1. If the evidence for God and the Bible was good and real,
  2. Then it follows that everyone would believe in God and be a Christian.
  3. Not everyone believes and is a Christian,
  4. Therefore there is not good evidence for God and the Bible.

The above notation about AGW, and Evolution is the same argument could be made, but they aren’t willing to grant it, I’m sure.

  1. If the evidence for AGW and Evolution were good and real,
  2. Then it follows that everyone would believe in AGW and Evolution.
  3. Not everyone is an Evolutionist or attributes Global Warming to man,
  4. Therefore there is not good and real evidence for AGW and Evolution.

The above objection places the liability not on the person rejecting the conclusion (that the Christian God exists) but instead on the evidence in favor of the conclusion.

Comments

  1. ” I have talked to Atheists who have candidly admitted that if Christianity were true they still wouldn’t believe it.”

    Conversely, I have met Christians who would say something similar, the most prominent reason being that a lack of a God would ostensibly leave their lives without meaning.

    • Oscar

      Yeah, I have run into only one Christian (though there are more out there) that I overheard saying if Jesus’ bones were found in the osuary at the time of that hype, they would still be a Christian. I butted in saying I wouldn’t, that would mean Christianity is false. But like you said, they said it gave them meaning and they wouldn’t want to be a different religion. Basically admitting they don’t care what’s true, they want to feel “complete”.

  2. “If you are inclined to answer one of these questions keep this in mind: The above objection places the liability not on the person rejecting the conclusion (that the Christian God exists) but instead on the evidence in favor of the conclusion.”

    The voice of reason. It’s not for me (or any evolution skeptic) to prove that evolution is false, it’s for evolutionists to make a better case for their position. Many countries don’t even bother engaging in this debate because they feel that evolution isn’t even worth teaching as a real science. I’m sure that no one would disagree that countries such as China and Japan value science and technology and utilize new advancements even more than we do. Yet, they have no mandates on teaching evolution. Could it be because they are intelligent enough to filter out what is real, “necessary science,” and what is not?

    • Synap

      Certainly. But my point was to the skeptic who argues this way:

      1. If the evidence for God and the Bible was good and real,
      2. then it follows — according to them — that everyone would believe in God and be a Christian.
      3. Not everyone believes and is a Christian,
      4. Therefore there is not good evidence for God and the Bible.

      The above notation about AGW, and Evolution is the same argument could be made, but they aren’t willing to grant it, I’m sure.

      1. If the evidence for AGW and Evolution were good and real,
      2. then it follows that everyone would believe in AGW and Evolution.
      3. Not everyone is an Evolutionist or attributes Global Warming to man,
      4. Therefore there is not good and real evidence for AGW and Evolution.

      But I get the feeling that an Evolutionist would blame the denier and not the dearth of evidence, thus unintentionally blaming himself for not being a Christian instead of what he considers a lack of evidence.

      • In fact, I have heard skeptics respond to this. Has anyone ever heard someone who denies Evolution ask the question: if evolution is true, then why are there still apes?

      • “But I get the feeling that an Evolutionist would blame the denier and not the dearth of evidence, thus unintentionally blaming himself for not being a Christian instead of what he considers a lack of evidence.”

        Yes, this is true. And yes it’s also true that some people will reject anything no matter what. You pointed out a logical fallacy often used by atheists. I even used it just now.

  3. “In fact, I have heard skeptics respond to this. Has anyone ever heard someone who denies Evolution ask the question: if evolution is true, then why are there still apes?”

    Can you blame skeptics for the confusion? There’s even confusion and disagreement amongst evolutionists. The evolution chart with the spider monkey and chimp standing behind a human being does nothing but add to the confusion because that is supposedly not a representation of what evolutionists are claiming. Evolutionists say that we humans and apes came from a common, ape-like ancestor–we did not come from apes. Yet evolutionists like Dawkins say that we ARE apes. I’ve debated with atheists that are evolutionists who ask me, “When did I say we are apes?” And then I refer them to the Dawkins video. So if evolutionists themselves are not even in agreement, how can you possibly blame skeptics for “not getting it right?” And who is “right?”

  4. John, I wonder if what you are hearing when an atheist says that even if the objective facts of the bible were proven 100% correct that they wouldn’t believe is actually them saying that if Christianity were proved 100% true I still wouldn’t worship that particular God, or identify as a Christian. I have heard this argument before and I don’t believe it to be entirely wrong. Just because something is true does not mean we need to condone it.
    If they said “I would not believe in the face of overwhelming evidence” then that is obviously an admission of blind faith in their current epistemology. If someone said “I would in the face of evidence acknowledge the factual existence of God but that this fact would not make me become a Christian” then I think this person is not being inconsistent.
    If it were able to be proved that Jesus was in fact the son of a living God, and that he died on the cross for the sins of mankind- that he rose from the dead and was witnessed by many- that he ascended to Heaven- I would say that your religion is factually accurate, but that does not prevent me from deciding that this very real God is not something worth my worship and obedience.

    To the topic of this post, I do admit that this is a poorly framed argument. It is obviously true that there is only one set of cold hard facts, and people are entitled to epistemologies that are false in spite of any set of facts. I think that doesn’t prevent us from judging how people approach evidence, but it is certainly not self-evident that everyone must interpret facts in the same way.

  5. Marshall Art says:

    “…but that does not prevent me from deciding that this very real God is not something worth my worship and obedience.”

    In light of the ramifications of what the proofs have revealed, this would indicate some level of mental dysfunction.

  6. Cuz people are stupid. Maybe they never heard the evidence… What a dumb question.
    Obviously people fail to believe things even when presented evidence. Do you sit down and think of ways to construct ludicrous straw man arguments? I can’t believe you legitimately feel this represents a common atheist argument.

    “If good evidence for your God exists, then why are there so many people who don’t believe it.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard this argument, and I’ve certainly never made it in support of atheism. Atheists do have similar questions about theism.

    “If evidence against the idea of a god is so overwhelming, why do so many people still believe them?” Atheists go on and on about this very perplexing and disappointing propsensity of people to prefer myth to reality. But that question applies equally to Islam, Hinduism, and 2000 different versions of Christianity. Science and even some informal philosophizing can provide interesting answers but that’s another discussion.

    Also note that science is not on the side of skeptics. Science is the best way to understand the world. Skeptics follow science to truth or to the uncertainty because in the real world we’re often left with questions. If it led us to religion, we’d be there. You prefer to follow science to your computer and to the hospital and then thumb your nose at science topics of geology, biology, cosmology, homosexuality, prayer, and non-medical-use evolution. You can only badmouth science so much before you have to buy a horse and buggy and drink unpasteurized milk from old Bessy.

    • Jason

      Its not a straw man if atheists have offered it as an objection.

      Z

      Just because you instructed me on what to write on next doesn’t mean I have to hop to. I will address the subject, but I have a couple posts in line which will come first.

  7. Whether the evidence is good or not is in the eye of the beholder. People interpret evidence. Whether someone is compelled to concede their position in the face of the evidence is wholly up to the one perceiving it. Just like the skeptic who says extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is the arbiter of what counts as extraordinary, so too does the one demanding good evidence determine what qualifies as good evidence. The skeptic in this case acts as judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney, talk about a mistrial!

    John, it seems you have a problem with people who tell you that witness testimony is just not evidence.

    There was a good conversation going on the “discussion page” and I even recommended that you write a piece about why you feel witness testimony is evidence and why you think it’s sufficient to support the claims for supernatural events. It’s a shame you’ve redirected this entire framework into a straw-man argument.

    Not everyone believes and is a Christian, therefore because there is not good evidence for god and the bible.

    I would recommend to readers to check the end of the “discussion page” for a better conversation.

  8. Z, you write “not everyone believes and is a Christian, because there is not good evidence for god and the bible.”

    Well, along these lines, I’ll make a few statements that I hope you also agree with:
    1) Not everyone believes in global warming because there is not good evidence for global warming.
    2) Not everyone believes in evolution because there is not good evidence for evolution.
    3) Not everyone believes in tooth fairies because there is not good evidence for tooth fairies.

    Incidentaly, I believe in 2 out of those 3 statements even though a significant fraction of the population disagrees with me. The evidence is in the eye of the beholder. The vast (VAST) majority of the world’s population is theistic. Are you arguing that the vast majority of the world’s population are fools while you have some sort of superior intellect that supersedes everyone else’s judgement?

  9. “Its not a straw man if atheists have offered it as an objection.” – JB

    “A straw man is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position” – from one definition of straw man.

    It’s a straw man because you dressed it up as the “atheist” argument and went on and on with refutations because it’s easy to poke at a straw man.

    “Here’s one I don’t hear often, but when I do I am befuddled” – JB
    I misread this as saying this was an argument you -do- hear often. I thought that’s why you wrote this long article. Since you did say up front that atheists basically never make this argument, I will agree that I’ve never heard it either and it’s a stupid argument to make.

    A relevant quote from Mark Twain that I happened to see today: ‎”A lie can run around the world six times while the truth is still trying to put on its pants.” — Mark Twain

  10. @turneyn

    As a scientist, I’m sure you can appreciate the value of good evidence. Evidence used to support a scientific claim is gathered by using the scientific method. If you feel hung-up on any of the terminology used here, feel free to visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_evidence.

    The witness testimony that you would like to introduce as evidence to support your supernatural claim is simply not evidence.

    If you used that methodology in the lab as a chemist you would lose any credibility as a scientist and you know that.

    So, to address your statements, valid arguments can be made from scientific evidence to support the first two statements, regardless of the opinions of less educated people. The third statement is a claim of an entity that scientific evidence does not support, so I would tend to agree.

    As far as the “vast majority” is concerned, that’s just another argument from popularity.
    (http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Argumentum_ad_populum)
    C’mon, I thought we went over that…

    @ John

    Write what you’ve got to write, man – I’m just giving you some suggestions.

  11. Z, you write “Evidence used to support a scientific claim is gathered by using the scientific method.”
    I completely agree. If I were trying to prove a scientific claim, then witness evidence is completely insufficient. Claims of historical events are not scientific claims. I can’t use the scientific method to prove that Julius Cesar existed or had any significant impact on the world.

    As for the popularity argument, again, you are absolutely right. However, if 90% of the world’s population believed in the tooth fairy, then I would take their claim seriously and investigate the evidence. Only sheer arrogance would do otherwise.

    You seem to be of the opinion that anything worth knowing must hold up to scientific scrutiny. But the most valuable things in life, unfortunately, don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Who are my friends? Who are my enemies? What is right and wrong? Am I a good person? Who do I love? What is love? Am I a complex bag of chemicals or am I something more? Is there a purpose to my existence or am I here for my own pleasure?

    THESE are the most important questions in life and NONE of them can be addressed by the scientific method. Rather, we rely on a mixture of witness testimony, our moral intuition, and our personal experience in order to answer these most fundamental questions of our existence. Belief in God is one of these questions.

  12. Z – one more thing:
    I’m not talking about “natural” or “supernatural”. That’s the words that you keep shoving into the debate. Many (or even most) of the miracles described in the Bible could be described by perfectly “natural” phenomenon that happen to occur at a very opportune time.
    I once heard an analogy:
    A man asks “Why does is this water boiling?”
    One man answers “The water is boiling because the water molecules are vibrating so quickly that they overcome the polar forces that are holding them in liquid form.”
    Another man answers “The water is boiling because I just put on a pot of tea. Would you like some?”

    Obviously, both answers are absolutely correct. As Christians, we believe that God works largely (mostly!) through perfectly natural events. Very few tenets of the Christian faith require the “laws of nature” to be broken.

  13. @ tumeyn

    Claims of historical events can and must still be proven by evidence. We have evidence to verify the existence of Julius Caesar and the impact he had during the Roman Empire. The key difference between what we know about Roman history, for example, and biblical history are the statements made about supernatural phenomena.

    I keep “shoving that into the debate” because it illustrates the clear distinction between what we know to be true and what we feel to be true; what we can prove happened and what we cannot prove happened. I think you keep losing sight of this.

    If 90% of the world’s population believed in the tooth fairy, there would still be no valid reason for me to accept that claim until it could be proven with evidence. If you’re expecting me to take in on faith just like that 90%, it’s just not going to happen.

    You seem to be of the opinion that anything worth knowing must hold up to scientific scrutiny. But the most valuable things in life, unfortunately, don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Who are my friends? Who are my enemies? What is right and wrong? Am I a good person? Who do I love? What is love? Am I a complex bag of chemicals or am I something more? Is there a purpose to my existence or am I here for my own pleasure?

    These are all based on your feelings and emotions and are only relative to you.

    Many (or even most) of the miracles described in the Bible could be described by perfectly “natural” phenomenon that happen to occur at a very opportune time.

    Maybe you could clarify for me your definition of “miracle” and cite some examples.

    As for the boiling water, I’m quite certain we have a firm grasp of the science behind that.

  14. Z, you write:
    “I keep “shoving that into the debate” because it illustrates the clear distinction between what we know to be true and what we feel to be true; what we can prove happened and what we cannot prove happened. ”

    No, I don’t think we disagree about this at all. I agree that I can’t prove that most of those events happened. I’m just saying that there is some degree of evidence that they happened. This evidence doesn’t meet your criteria for belief. It does meet my criteria for belief.

    I actually think that our fundamental disagreement is about how we use evidence in everyday life. I am arguing that our feelings, personal experiences, and testimony evidence are absolutely essential in how we perceive reality and about the most important decisions we make in life. The most important truths that both you and I believe about our existence ARE based on evidence, but CANNOT stand up to scientific inquiry. (ie, the answers to the questions that you describe as “feelings”) And that’s Ok.

  15. Turneyn,

    You are certainly free to believe anything you want to believe and set your own criteria for that belief, but then you see the obvious conclusion that your beliefs are only relative to you.

    Unfortunately, people equate their belief (opinion) with fact and truth, and then get upset when you tell them that their “truth” is only relative to them.

    We must make the clear distinction that opinions and beliefs are not facts if they cannot be supported with evidence. As I referred in the other post, I would point you to a better understanding of evidence: http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Evidence

    I think a conflict arises out of your attempts to reconcile your emotions within an environment void of such emotion. The “naturalistic” world, as it would be termed, doesn’t have an emotional factor and, quite frankly, doesn’t care about ours.

    BTW, there’s a good page on the ironchariots page that addresses all kinds of logical fallacies, including those involving emotional pleas: http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Logical_fallacies

    • Z

      Please defend why I/we must accept the Atheist website’s definitions? Why should I/we give it the credence you refuse to give Christian sources because they’re biased? Do you not see the hypocricy?

  16. I wondered how long it would be before you attacked the resource.

    Unlike most of your Christian websites, this website clearly explains how to think, not what to think.

    If you wish to discredit the website, feel free to tell me where you think the methodology is wrong.

    • Woah woah!!

      Z are you telling me I have to refute your offered source? That ot stands as credible until I disprove it? You are classic!!!!!!!

    • And just to be clear, I didn’t attack it, just thought it was funny that you cite it as though it is an undisputed reputable source, since you are fond of rejecting “our” sources because they have what you think is a bias. I guess bias is fine as long as its tipped in your favor.

  17. Wow, John, you seem to be very excitable today.

    I was just pointing out that the website that you label as “atheist” is nothing more than a reference that you wish to undermine as a distraction away from your lost cause.

    There’s no bias – just an examination of tactics used in an argument, and I offered you the chance to show me where you think they are wrong.

    You seem to be sour because it clearly shows the flaws in each of your arguments.

Any Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: