Evidence For No God

A commenter on a previous post made this statement:

I’ve always wondered what Atheists mean when they mention ‘evidence’ that disproves God.

Of course, no rationalist worth his salt would ever claim that they had evidence that disproves god. But, by the same token, every rationalist worth his salt knows that there is evidence for a lack of god, which is not the same thing as saying it disproves his existence. If you take all the evidence that points to a lack of gods, and add it all up, cumulatively you must come to the conclusion that god is highly improbable, and in many cases impossible, depending on the god you’re referring to.

Take any one piece of evidence in a vacuum, and all you have is a perplexing piece of information that tends to contradict the notion of god. Take them all and put them on a scale, along with all the evidence in favor of any god’s existence, and the scale tips overwhelmingly towards a lack of god. It has to, or you are not using one balanced with reason and logic. You must be using the Christian scale, the one where faith keeps its thumb pressed heavily on the god side.

For the sake of argument, assume god exists. Then, with that assumption in mind, look at the following facts, and ask yourself how each one doesn’t support the assumption.

  • Katrina. You remember that? Wiped out New Orleans. And that’s just one of the more recent examples of a natural disaster that was not stopped by god. How could there be a compassionate god that allows people to suffer and die in natural disasters? And please, spare me the apologetics and rationalizations, of punishments for the evil of mankind, or testing our faith, yada, yada, yada. Because you have to admit that the people who suffer and die, in those rationalizations, are usually not the people who god is displeased with or need testing.
  • Indian Ocean Tsunami. Another good one. Many more dead bodies in this one too. Lots of innocent children, too. See below. Apparently, god doesn’t care.
  • World Trade Center on 9/11
  • Scientific explanations for all those things previously attributed to god. Lets start with simple things like lighting and thunder (god’s wrath), drought (wrath again) pestilence (yawn). The beautiful complexity of nature? Oh, evolution. The sun stills revolves around the earth, now doesn’t it? And let us not forget that archeology has pretty much determined that much of the history in the Bible is bunk. Naturalistic explanations for the world far exceed those of theistic explanations. In fact, so far, no theistic explanation has been proven to be true.
  • Churches that burn down when struck with lightning. Shows you just how much confidence all those churches with those tall steeples have in their god. They all have lightning rods attached. Can you say “I’ll pray to god, but trust in science”?
  • Ted Haggard. Need I say more? I do? Ok, John Hagee, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, James Dobson, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind…yada, yada, yada.
  • Cancer. And god gave us the intellect to figure out how to beat cancer, and we still haven’t been able to do it. Of course, if he hadn’t created cancer in the first place, we wouldn’t have had to invest millions of dollars in research every year, not to mention the often excruciating suffering and deaths caused by cancer. And that’s just one disease.
  • AIDS (Oh. Wait. That one was actually designed by god as a punishment for homosexuality. Unfortunately, Ryan White wasn’t a homosexual.)
  • The New Orleans Saints have never won a Super Bowl. In fact, they’ve never played in one.
  • Starving children all over the world. Actually, let’s generalize that even more. Suffering children all over the world. Children without parents, children born with AIDS, children born into fundamentalist families (ooops, how’d that get in there?), children who are raped by priests, neglected, beaten or sold into sexual slavery, children who…well, need I go on?
  • My aching back. Actually, this is more evidence that if there is a god, and he designed us, he should have his credentials revoked.
  • Multiple, mostly contradictory religions. And let’s not forget that Jesus Christ’s one true religion has broken up into tens of thousands of splinter religions and sects, from the original Catholicism (to the extent it was original) through all the eastern and orthodox Catholics, not to mention all the Protestant sects. If there was a god, would he abide all this confusion?
  • Mike Huckabee’s Presidential campaign. He was the candidate of god. Yes, I know the rest of them pay a lot of lip service to the man in the sky, but Huckabee was the anointed one. He had god on his side. Why couldn’t god pull off a victory, by placing Huckabee in our hearts?
  • Last, but not least, a total lack of any credible, falsifiable evidence that there is or ever was a god. Look at the well balanced, unbiased scale. There is nothing on the god side.
  • Can anyone else point to other evidence?

So yes Mr. Pulpiteer, there is nothing that absolutely disproves god’s existence. But there is so much evidence that would not exist if there was a god, that one can only come to the conclusion that god is highly improbable. As one of the characters says in the book I’m reading right now for our Nonbelieving Literati discussion

No, Steff didn’t know there wasn’t a God, he was merely one hundred percent fucking certain.

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10 thoughts on “Evidence For No God

  1. ::chuckles:: Well said. The evidence around us points to social chaos, meaning that the social orchestrator would be a God of chaos, yet the Bible says he … isn’t. Well, I agree with that idea literally — God sure as hell just isn’t.

  2. I still don’t much like the “evidence for a lack of god” formulation. It might better be phrased: evidence that contradicts common (Christian, usually) beliefs and claims about God.

    Your argument in this post is flimsy precisely because it doesn’t quite acknowledge that: all any apologist has to do is simply reframe God or God’s motives, and they’ve escaped the implication of all these things. Better to let them make the claims first, and then point out where they are unsupported or just plain wrong in contrast to reality.

  3. Bad:

    I like your phrase, “evidence that contradicts common…beliefs and claims about God.” I have to wonder, though, if you prefer this formulation because it leaves the door open to the possibility that some god-like entity exists, one about whom we don’t, possibly can’t know anything. I don’t agree, however, that “this post is flimsy” simply because SI did not explicitly leave the door open to that idea.

    Your proposed apologetic counter-move, “reframe God or God’s motives” is an example of moving the goalposts. Such a move is not acceptable in ordinary “debate” (I use the term loosely, as this is, AFAIK, a pretty informal forum). Your advice that SI should preempt that possibility by letting “them make the claims first” is probably the tack that many non-believers would take if actually engaged in a face-to-face discussion or an ongoing correspondence of particular theological questions. But, AFAIK, he simply wanted to write a post that addressed some common conceptions about God’s, perhaps most explicitly the Christian God’s, nature. Since he didn’t have the luxury of having an actual interlocutor with whom to engage in a dialog, he had to take some artistic liberties and create an imaginary representative from “the other side.” That doesn’t make this a flimsy post. It simply provides a starting point for dialog from believers and non-believers alike.

  4. My concern is not about what doors are left open, but rather what is accurate. Claiming that Katrina is evidence against the existence of God is simply an overstatement. There are a number of unspoken premises there which limit the scope of this particular argument.

    Your proposed apologetic counter-move, “reframe God or God’s motives” is an example of moving the goalposts.

    Certainly it is, but while such behavior casts doubt on the sincerity of the person who does it, it doesn’t invalidate new claims, post move.

    Nor are people in these cases always guilty in the first place. Often someone will make a claim about a certain sort of God, and the apologist will not have believed in that sort of God to begin with: so them coming in and objecting that this argument does not apply to them is not moving anything anywhere. There is a wide diversity of theologies, which is precisely why it’s important to recognize which arguments target which specific ones and how, rather than pretending that they deal with the subject generally.

  5. The traditional definition of god does not meet the rules of coherence at a very basic level.

    The traditional definition is – “God is that being than which none greater can be conceived” or “God is a being than which none greater is possible”. (Other terms are used in formulating definitions, in a way that amounts to the same or a very similar concept of greatness – “Maximality”, “Perfection”, “Supreme”, …).

    These definitions are nonsense because greatness has a quantitative as well as a qualitative meaning.
    This means that the traditional definition of god is similar to saying, “A number than which none greater can be conceived” or “A number than which none greater is possible”.

    This quantitative aspect is hinted at in the “religions of the book”. They have god referring to himself as “We” and “Us”. In the Christian religion there is even a “mathematics of god” to explain the “Three Personal God”: 1 = 1 * 1 * 1. (There are other ways of understanding the “royal we” but my argument still stands).

    Someone may argue that god has infinite greatness but it turns out that, mathematically speaking, infinities have different sizes!

    Therefore the traditional definition of god refers to that which does not and cannot exist.

  6. First off, I hate going down roads like this. First and foremost always should be the issue of it’s so-called existence. Period. Issues of ‘would a good god do this?’ or ‘how could god allow this?’ are not just divergent paths, but potentially ones that will send you off a cliff.

    Second, and largely for the issue above, I have to go with Bad here. What we’re dealing with are the claims for a god, not this god thing itself. I think there’s a laziness many atheists take in addressing the god issue by just taking general definitions of this god for granted. Don’t. In every debate concerning a god, you should have the believer define his god. Let’s make it fully clear what the fuck we’re debating. This once again goes to my first point. SI’s list is all predicated on ideas about this god thing frequently put forth by christians. That’s a mistake. Either you ask for their definitions and then perhaps question the definitions (how do you know he’s good? how do you define this good? is his goodness good because he says so or because it is? etc). IF you want to rundown a list like this with Katrina and such, I think you preface the post with something like ‘according to christians, there god is…’ and then ask “but how can that be when…’ and list your list.

  7. Bad

    I tend to agree with you and Philly within the context of a larger argument. A broader debate might be framed a little differently. But I was simply responding to the comment on a previous post, by a commenter with clear Christian proclivities. I really did have the stereotypical Christian god in mind. For example:

    Claiming that Katrina is evidence against the existence of God is simply an overstatement.

    Sure, if I was talking about the Hindu gods, or Allah, or something other than the god most people (read Christians) in America refer to. I haven’t heard anyone claiming that Vishnu or Allah had anything to do with Katrina.

    But in a broader sense, the post was about the conflation of evidence and proof, and is equally applicable no matter what god you want to posit.

    But I make no apologies. I wrote what I wrote, not as some detailed refutation of any particular theology, but as a knee jerk (yes, lazy) reaction to a stupid comment.

  8. I would say that one can’t disprove the existence of the god of the Bible, it is rather easy to argue that the existence of the god of the Bible is highly unlikely. When you consider the vastness of the universe and how small we are within it, the evidence for an old Earth compared to the claims of the Bible, the unfolding of human history and so forth, the idea that a universal creator is going to become the personal tribal deity to a confederation of semi-nomadic tribes in a small strip of land in the Middle East is really ridiculous.

  9. The christian biblical god is easily disprovable. In fact I would go on to say that it is the easiest god to disprove. One of the ways to prove a negative is something being selfcontradictory. One thing cannot be and not be two things simultaneously. The fact that god is believed to be the same entity in the old and new testaments shows selfcontradiction. Ill list a couple contradictory facts:

    1. God is omniscient: he knows everything that will ever happen. Also, humans have free will, we can make any decision at any point in our lives. The contradiction: we can not have the free will to make any decision and go in any direction if god already knows what we will do, presumably before we are born. This also questions punishment in the afterlife. How can we be punished for something that we had no control over. God already knew what we would do.

    2. The old testament had people being punished including being stoned to death for things like working (including picking vegetables to eat) on the sabbath. Jesus (who the christians either believe is speaking the word of god and telling people what god wants them to do, or, he is the same entity as god) later said that working on the sabbath should not be punished by death.

    I know number 2 kinda works with the omniscient thing too but that tenet of faith causes all kinds of issues. Im even willing to say the whole omniscient, omnipotent omnipresent thing causes more issues than it solves.

    The point is this: you dont have to have knowledge of everything to know that something isnt true. Ideas can disprove themselves.

  10. I agree with Philly…I can’t prove there’s NO god, but I can disprove YOUR god. Define it and I can show you why it’s highly unlikely that god exists.

    Vic Stenger did something like that in God, The Failed Hypothesis.

    Good post, though. Even a non-traditional theist has to deal with these problems.

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