Encore: Is it wrong to say there is no evidence of God?November 28, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
[Originally published as “Pharyngula: Another round in the Kleiman/Myers skirmish” on July 17, 2007.]
PZ Myers has another go at those who claim that it’s wrong to criticize someone else’s belief in God. In so doing, he voices a frequently-expressed opinion that, in my view, does a bad job of (should I say it?) “framing” the debate.
I am saying precisely that belief in god is wrong because there is no empirical or theoretical support for it; there is a concatenation of myths leavened with post-hoc justifications for them, which is not the same thing.
There’s something unsatisfactory about saying that there is no evidence for God. After all, we learn new things all the time. Just because we say “there is no evidence for God” doesn’t mean that evidence might not exist somewhere. It just means we haven’t seen any (yet).
To me, that argument comes up short. Science is based on truth, and if there’s one thing we know about truth, it’s that truth is self-consistent. More than that, the self-consistency of truth is the way–the only way–we tell the difference between what’s correct and what’s false. To be consistent with the truth is to be true. To be inconsistent with the truth is to be false.
The problem with God, as conceived of by Christians, is not just that there’s no evidence for Him, it’s that He’s inconsistent with the evidence we do have. If there were an all-loving, all-knowing, all-wise and all-powerful God who wanted a personal relationship with each of us, badly enough to literally die for it, then the most fundamental and obvious consequence would be God showing up, on a regular basis, in the real world, to actually participate in that relationship. What we see in real life, believer or not, is that this does not happen. The things we see in the real world are blatantly inconsistent with the consequences which would result if the Gospel were telling the truth about God.
The godlessness that believers so often complain about is just that: “God-less-ness.” Hairlessness is the absence of hair, purposelessness is the absence of purpose, and godlessness is the absence of God. The Gospel says that God ought to be present, but the world is, as everyone admits, essentially godless. That’s not just an absence of evidence, that’s evidence which is inconsistent with the Gospel being true.