Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From Your Lips to God's -- err...

Amy Alkon blogs about Heather Mac Donald On Glenn Beck's Faith. One responder calling himself "Donny Pauson" writes in his reply, "Atheists have just as much faith as 'believers'."

Amy responds with,
Um, no. I require evidence before I'll believe in something.

Because I haven't personally investigated a particular thing doesn't mean there's a lack of evidence for its existence.

If you show me that you've found evidence there's a god, I'd be happy to believe.

Do you believe that there's a giant purple gorilla on your roof right now eating your children? Because there's as much evidence for that as there is for god.

Science does not require faith. Science requires evidence, and scientists look to see where evidence is lacking -- it's the foundation of science, seeking the evidence-based truth.
Underlying this is a deeper epistimological question. Does theism use or require a different concept of evidence from atheism?

Theism is based on belief and belief defines what counts as evidence. For example, when confronted with the question of the origin of the universe the theist will take the lack of any definitive answer from science as evidence for a god. Usually his particular god. In contrast, as an atheist I do not use my lack of knowledge about how the universe got started as evidence that there is no god. In fact, I don’t use it as evidence for anything. It is just a puzzle to be solved.

This is more than an alternative set of assumptions. It is a whole different approach to evidence.

The user called "Crid" asks,
"How come the particular stupidity has become so popular on this blog in recent years?"
That's just a word game. The word "faith" has different meanings in different contexts. For example faith that the sun will come up tomorrow is a different thing than faith in an invisible, omnipotent entity that creates whole universes with a word and is intensely interested in my sex life.

The first is a result of experience combined with a belief that the universe is not perverse and the rules don't change arbitrarily. This is the faith that C.S Lewis (IIRC) referred to as the virtue by which a man holds to reasoned ideas even during moments of irrationality. The second is an example of a trusting belief in a transcendent reality and/or in a supreme being and what role She/He/It has in the order of things.

Between the extremes of the painfully obvious and the painfully theological there are categories that are less easily divided and it is in those gaps that someone can find a god.

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