Is no evidence proof of no gods?

Atheists are often asked what evidence would be sufficient to enlighten us enough to agree that a god exists. Most of us can’t answer because what we need is irrefutable, repeatable, and clear proof. I would say “God” (or one of them), but how do I know if an entity is a god? One lady suggested that if Jesus appeared in my car next to me, I would believe. That can be hallucination. Since I have no way to validate the real Jesus, I must disagree with her.

I am more likely to confront an extra-terrestrial alien than any real god. And religion is a different matter altogether. Separating God and religion seems impossible for most basic believers because that is where they were led into the delusion.

When I used to say that I believed in a god (it was more like a something), that was not because I had any evidence. As I matured along with my beliefs, God went from what I was told to something downright obfuscated. If anything, I hung on to belief despite a complete lack of evidence.

I moved on to admitting that I did not believe any god existed. That was not because there was no evidence, but because such existence became permanently illogical to me. Of course, while a deity made no sense, there was supporting evidence in the form of no evidence of existence. That’s were I am on this.

When I commented on Nan’s blog that the existence of gods can be neither proved nor disproved, I was challenged by another atheist (RaPaR) with the argument that the lack of evidence supporting a god is evidence that no god exists. Well, I decided to check out this lack of evidence is evidence of absence argument (a rabbit hole). Apparently, I walked in on years of debate and discussion by scientists and philosophers. It’s nothing new, and it’s not a shallow idea. It deserves more than cursory consideration.

Two distinct concepts are absence of evidence and evidence of absence. Their relationship and distinction get rolled up in the aphoristic antimetabole, Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I agree. It isn’t. However, we cannot logically simply dismiss real evidence nor thousands of years of none.

This discussion works best for real world things like medical efficacy, drug testing, and vaccine research. However, as Paul Simon wrote in The Boxer, “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.” Why let silly things like evidence, lack of it, or proof and facts get in the way?

Here’s my argument. If the monotheistic Abrahamic God exists, why not any of the other five thousand or so gods as well? The amount of evidence for any of them is virtually the same. Only the number of gods differ. Monotheists are currently at bat, but polytheists have a bigger bull pen.

Important words that relate to evidence and proof are often used by believers. They are outward sign, testimony, bearing witness, and of course that old troublemaker, faith. Who needs it when you have proof? And which of those words provides evidence of a god?

A key defense of my hypothesis is knowledge or knowing. Many people claim not only to know that a god exists, but they further claim to know what God wants. They claim to know God’s mind. That is nuts. What does it mean to know something? The word is epistemology, but why go there?

Obviously, while I may have believed a god existed, I never knew such a thing. If I ever made such a claim, it was bullshit. I will let you go here or decide what knowing means on your own.

The unarguable logic fallacy is claiming existence of a god or supporting such a claim based on a lack of evidence to the contrary. If no one can provide evidence of non-existence, that does not make it so.

You can fill a library with the published books that claim to prove a god exists. Ten proofs, nine, six, however many you want. Why are we skeptics still unconvinced? It’s because religious books sell well, even when they are crap.

Until Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day; Happy Human Rights Day, Dewey Decimal System Day, Animal Rights Day, and Nobel Prize Day.


18 thoughts on “Is no evidence proof of no gods?

  1. indeed, what about the other gods that have just as much evidence for them as the christian one: none?

    For the Christian god, we have both absence of evidence and evidence of absence, since at any time claimed by some Christian for one of their events, we have entirely different things happening. This is why many Christians are loathe to mention a date and are utterly terrified by their god having so many distinct attributes and claims. They end up with a vague “ground of being” since it can’t be shown to be entirely made up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You realize, of course, that God-believers long ago lost the capacity of being able to reason, yes? Because it’s all about FAITH, you see. Evidence and proof are simply not in their vocabulary. Personal feelings, scriptural quotes, pastoral proclamations … THESE are all they need to confirm the reality of an non-descript, invisible, guy-in-the-sky.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoy this argument Bill, thanks for your write up. I reject the refusal of theists to accept the lack of evidence argument as just another vehicle of necessity in order to perpetuate their religious nonsense. Regardless of whatever logic you use or how firm it may bee rooted in empirical reason, they will never accept it; they just MUST believe or what, their world falls apart? I’m not sure however I like Bertrand Russell’s Tea Pot analogy and I use it often.

    Published in Illustrated Magazine in 1952, Russell sates:

    “Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”

    It is simplicity and i have yet to hear it better stated. The absence of evidence is truly evidence of absence.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t argue with that 🙂
    Faith is a funny thing, isn’t it? Blindly believing what we are told is true. And then when we question it, are told we have no faith. And round and round it can go.
    Happy Friday!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good morning, Dale, and Happy Friday.

      Yes, belief and faith harangue in Christian scripture, especially in the letters of Paul. The meanings of the words seem to find their ways to various descriptions, but they all come down to “trust me.”

      What follows is the ‘by faith alone’ nonsense, something I’ve never bought into. But the logic of this evidence argument is interesting from both sides. Have a good day. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good morning Bill.

        Yes. Trust me. Two words that can bring total disaster or something wonderful…

        Ah yes – by faith alone is not convenient to me 😉

        Have a grand day!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. “Trust in me
      Just in me
      Shut your eyes
      Trust in me
      You can sleep
      Safe and sound
      Knowing I
      Am around
      Slip into silent slumber
      Sail on a silver mist
      Slowly and surely
      Your senses will cease to resist
      Just relax
      Be at rest
      Like a bird
      In a nest
      Trust in me
      Just in me
      Shut your eyes
      And trust in me
      Trust in me
      Just in me
      Shut your eyes
      And trust in me” – Kaa, The Jungle book

      Liked by 2 people

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