Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The evidence is (not) overwhelming!

How often have you heard a Christian apologist express incredulity that you don't believe in an all powerful creator god who intervenes in the world to answer prayers?

They tell me that the evidence for god is overwhelming - and the moment I hear that expression I know that the last thing I am going to hear from them is any actual evidence whatsoever.

You hear:
  • the evidence of the bible
  • the evidence of the resurrection
  • the evidence of irreducible complexity
  • the evidence of fine tuning
  • etc etc
None of these work in any way.
  1. After all, the bible is not even self-consistent and any decent lawyer would quickly show it to be worth nothing as evidence in a court of law.  
  2. The resurrection is only evidence for anyone if you believe in the word of the bible.  See item 1.
  3. Irreducible complexity is only evidence of the logical fallacy of 'the argument from personal incredulity'. 
  4. Fine tuning arguments betray some of the features of item 3, but also demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the laws of probability when they are used retrospectively.
They all act as evidence that the person using the arguments does not have a real understanding of the term 'evidence'.  One type of evidence that most of us would accept is the 'double-blind' approach.

The concept of the double-blind test is one where neither the person carrying out the experiment nor the subject of the experiment knows whether they are participating in the real trial or the placebo control.  This idea can be extended in inventive ways to determine whether there really is good evidence for an hypothesis, even in cases where you might think it is difficult.

Controlled experiments have been carried out over the decades to determine whether prayer works.  I suppose you could claim that these tests are not truly blinded tests though.  Surely omnipotent god must know that he is being tested.  Perhaps these trials show only that god does not like to be tested - and hence he fails to answer the prayers while someone is watching.  However, that is not the sort of behaviour that you would like to see from a loving god is it?

So - I challenge you religious apologists to provide some of this overwhelming evidence that you claim to have for the existence of your god.

I'm waiting . . . .


Hilary said...

Final word:

You have already made up your mind as to what you think. it wouldn't matter how much evidence you had in front of you, you simply would choose not to believe it. You are stating that with the right evidence for you, that you believe, but actually if Jesus Christ had risen from the dead in front of you, you would, I've no doubt, convince yourself that you were hallucinating, or mentally ill etc would not trust any of your senses at all, always choosing to find another reason for what you would be experiencing...this would be your choice. This means that you are not really open to any evidence at all, or the possibility that you are wrong!

Actually the burden of proof is on you to prove to yourself that God does not exist. After all, there is the possibility that you might actually be wrong! :D This is what you believe, so be happy in what you believe, or in what you don't believe :) Of course, if your can't prove that God doesn't exist, then it comes down to you choosing to believe that He doesn't.

For me, I am happy in what I believe, in Jesus Christ. I've commented on many of your posts as I have found them to be quite interesting. Interesting to see comments of others as well. Thanks to all who have entered into discussions with me and taken time to reply.

However, I am going to be taking a long break from this blog now, as I am going to be spending much less time online, in attempts to simplify my life and spend as little time as possible in front of a computer screen.

Thanks for allowing me to comment from a very different perspective from yours and from the majority of your readers. I've appreciated that very much.

Signing off for now,

JapTastic said...

Thank you , Hilary for proving with evidence, how ignorant christians are. The author asks for evidence, and you showed none...just as he knew you wouldn't. You proved his point that christians don't understand the definition of the word evidence. And no, the burden of proof ALWAYS lies with the person making the claim. If someone said that we are alive because the giant talking pizza from another dimension made us, it would be absurd to say the burden of proof is on YOU to prove otherwise. (by the way, you can't prove that isn't true now can you?)You have centuries of scientific evidence proving how we got here, and you completely ignore whats smacking you in the face. What a closed minded fool you are. Thank you for leaving, and taking your incompetence with you.

Derby Sceptic said...

@JapTastic. I find your final two sentences harsh and uncalled for but otherwise I agree with your comments.

Plasma Engineer said...

Seconding @Derby Sceptic's comments, I would actually like to say that I have appreciated ALL the input from @Hilary at this, MY blog.

Although I have usually disagreed with everything she has written I absolutely welcomed the debate on each topic and her comments have provoked ideas that I would not necessarily have thought up myself.

Thanks Hilary. Hope you will return to say more in the future

Anonymous said...

To @Hilary, if it's the "Final word" then why bother to sign off with "signing off for now." Either it is the end or it isn't. Just as because you define "evidence" as something different than what is scientifically defined as evidence doesn't make what you pull out of your ass or book of inconsistency for your faith makes that bullshit evidence.

skyborn said...

The evidence is conclusive, but you won't check it out and if you did you wouldn't believe it. However, on the chance that you are intellectually honest, google Peter Stoner, then read chapters 2 and 3 of "science speaks". The evidence is
mathematical and incontrovertible.

Plasma Engineer said...

I try not to ridicule people's comments on this blog, but skyborn's claims refer to the document that you can find in pdf format at

Well - what can I say without going on too long?

Chapter 2 - a collection of cherry-picked anecdotes, using made up statistics generated by credulous students does not constitute evidence. Besides that, the contents of the bible were chosen, after the fact, to tell a story. They are not in any way unbiased.

Chapter 3 completely neglects the fact that the new testament was clearly made up to fulfil the prophecies of the old. Sometimes it even tells us that such and such happened in order to fulfil a certain prophecy. The first example, the birth at Bethlehem, illustrates how desperate the authors were. They invented an implausible, non-sensical and non-historical census to get the parent(s) of Jesus to Bethlehem.

No - in all intellectual honesty - you have to try harder than this skyborn!

Plasma Engineer said...

A further thought about the use of statistics . . .

Say that Peter Stoner had chosen, in the spirit of fairness, to add the same number of prophecies which were nearly dead-certs. At a first glance you might think that it would make his analysis approach an average where the odds were less in his favour.

But no - adding the same number of prophecies that were 99% likely to become true would have further increased the apparent unlikelihood.

By saying this I'm encouraging you, via the Socratic method, to wonder how that mathematical 'proof' might not be as compelling as you originally thought. Ask yourself why he limited himself to the number of examples that he did use. Then ask how that would be altered if you used Bayesian statistical methods. In the spirit of intellectual honesty you need to go and read up on that topic and then to generate a new probability for the two chapters that you so revere.