Apparently, my super easy to follow, very basic article on evidence was just too hard for some folks to grasp. So, in the spirit of educating, I’m going to review some mistakes that have been pouring into my comments sections.
First, a sound logical argument is not evidence. This is the favorite trick of lying assho… er, apologists like William Lane Craig. Use all the correct terminology, construct the argument correctly, and wham-o, proof of God! Only no.
Let me demonstrate: All men are pigs, George is a man, therefore George is a pig, and since he is a pig, he is unable to sweat. (Pigs can’t sweat. Fun fact for the day.)
Clearly, all one needs to do is watch George sweat to demonstrate that SOMETHING is wrong with this argument. So we know it’s bullshit from the start. But where? The premises follow quite nicely? Is logic wrong? Are we going to hell because we believe George can sweat? Of course not. Again, George can sweat. But despite a well crafted argument, it’s the crap you put in the framework that results in the errant conclusion. Crap in, crap out.
In this particular example, premise one is fallaciously equivocating the anthropomorphic term “pig” with an actual pig. Calling someone a “pig” because they are sloppy is not the same as calling them a literal pig. But by slipping a word with a double meaning into the framework of the argument, William Lane Craig is able to make a shit ton of money lying to people. He frequently equivocates things like “theory” and “create” and “begin to exist” in completely dishonest ways.
Let’s try another one: if an object is not supported from the bottom, it falls down. An object on the underside of a support falls away from the support. Objects in Australia fall down. Therefore, Australia can not be on the bottom of the globe.
Again, the logical framework is solid. But once again, crap in, crap out. From our perspective, objects indeed do seem to fall “down”. Add in a solid bit of ignorance, and this conclusion seems to be completely valid. But that’s not actually how things work.
Before we figured out the shape of the earth and the whole gravity thing, merely saying “it just makes sense that things on the bottom of a ball would fall away from the ball” was still wrong. It was wrong because people assumed a particular model, and by demonstrating a very small piece of it, tried to pretend it applied universally.
Any and all god arguments of “design” or “first mover” fall into this category. It is essentially “we can see things being designed, therefore everything must have been designed, and since I can’t think of another option I must be right.” No, you’re still not right. If your model is wrong, it can sometimes produce what seems like a right answer, but it fails all the rest of the time.
Anyway, to wrap up that dead horse, logical arguments are not evidence. They aren’t “proof”. The premises still require a demonstration and evidence.
Second, I don’t care how many times you think something is cool or amazing or surprising or helpful, it’s not evidence. Let’s use an old standby. “Look at the trees! Only God could create such majesty!”
Okay, for those that have read the first evidence article, you may remember that information is not evidence unless it confirms a specific conclusion or rules a specific conclusion out. So, the first thing to do is pick an alternative hypothesis or two, and then test them.
Here is an alternative hypothesis: The world was created when a giant, pink, invisible, and mentally handicapped unicorn farted magic universe dust and forest pixies, creating the universe as we know it.
“Look at the trees” does not rule out my unicorn hypothesis. Nor your God hypothesis. Nor evolution. So it’s just not evidence. It is merely an observation that doesn’t help us at all.
Other non-evidences include the sun moving across the sky, you found your keys after praying and then conducting a search, sick people getting better, a lost cat turns up, you get a job offer, someone survives a car crash, you miss someone and then they call, and you met someone you get along with well. Every one of these is equally explained by my unicorn fart-expelled forest pixies. And evolution. And Hinduism.
A man is walking down the street wearing flip flops, shorts, and an AC/DC t-shirt. He has short hair and a modest beard. ALL of this is information about our subject. If this information can help us conclude something, then it is evidence for that conclusion. His t-shirt may provide some evidence that he likes the band AC/DC, but it doesn’t help us know if he is married. It IS evidence that he may like AC/DC, it is NOT evidence for or against his marital status. Based on the description above, we have no evidence of his marital status. I say again, WE HAVE NO EVIDENCE OF HIS MARITAL STATUS. This despite we may have evidence that he likes AC/DC.
So when I ask a religious person to please provide some evidence that god exists, it doesn’t do any good to point out that there are trees. I don’t care about who got better after having cancer. I want evidence that your god exists. YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY.
The Bible. Holy shit, I can’t say enough about this. Yes, the bible would seem to point toward a particular conclusion. But if you ever want an example of blatant plagiarism, forgery, mistakes, and politically motivated psychological operations, this is your Exhibit A.
If I told you Superman was a real person, and I told you my “evidence” was Lois Lane was a reporter and she knew him, I hope you would think I’m crazy. But this is the technique used by apologists. “The empty tomb proves Jesus was God” and such nonsense.
I’m fully aware that they then go on to explain how Jesus couldn’t be made up because if it was made up, they would have made him better. Again, we are dealing with the most highly compromised documents the world has ever seen, and now you’re assuming part of the story is true to make fun of someone that says it isn’t.
It is as dumb as saying Superman must be real because if we were making up a superhero, we wouldn’t make him allergic to kryptonite. But obviously we did, and it’s because it makes for a better story if he has to also face some challenges. The “woulda invented a better God” argument is the most unimaginative statement I’ve ever heard.
I can sit right here at this moment and come up with at least three completely plausible reasons why Jesus was a weak, pitiful character instead of a flashing warrior, and I could support these hypotheses with current day examples of similar storytelling. This demonstrates two things. 1) hypotheses are a dime-a-dozen, and we need evidence to sort out the truth, and 2) apologists are very nearly brain dead in their creative side.
And just to make sure we are clear here, there is a reason tainted evidence is not allowed in court. Tainted evidence can be wrong, even very wrong. The bible is the mother lode of tainted evidence, and you wish to use this as a demonstration of your claim? Laughable. Think of it like this: A prosecuting attorney in a murder trial stands up and pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket. He reads it. “Joe Accused snuck into the house in the middle of the night and murdered Suzy Deceased.” No signature.
Unless you are a fool, you can identify a number of problems with this scenario. 1) We don’t know who wrote it. 2) We don’t know where they got their information. 3) The account may not match the evidence. 4) We don’t know how the attorney got it, and who had it before it was delivered.
Guess what? 1) We don’t know who wrote most of the bible. 2) We don’t know where they got their information. 3) The accounts frequently don’t match the evidence. 4) We don’t know who kept, copied, translated, modified, or otherwise edited it during much of it’s history, but we absolutely know that it was copied, translated, modified, and edited.
I wish to restate my assertion. We have no evidence for the existence of any god. If there was any, the various apologists that comment on my site would have provided some.
The Spartan Atheist.