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Evidence For An Atheist

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One of my friends called me yesterday to wish me a happy Easter. She knew I was an atheist and unlike most fundagelicals around here, that doesn’t matter to our friendship. As could have been expected considering yesterday was the day to commemorate Jesus supposed resurrection, the conversation turned to religion. She asked me what would cause me to believe in god. Little did she know I had already made some preparation for that exact question but before I answered, I told her I would answer after she told me what evidence would convince her there was no god. She obviously didn’t want to answer because she avoided the subject telling me that I really didn’t want to answer her question. I reassured her I would answer after I was answered so she reluctantly told me nothing, there is no evidence that would convince her god doesn’t exist.

I thanked her for being honest and told her that is the difference between a religious viewpoint and a secular one. Couldn’t quite believe it but she actually said “I thought you were an atheist, now your secular.” I couldn’t believe I had to explain what a secular view is. I told her in contrast to her view that no evidence could show her that god doesn’t exist, there is plenty of evidence that could show me there is a god yet that evidence doesn’t exist. If it did, I would gladly believe in god. She was really disappointed that I didn’t say convert to Christianity but I tried to ignore that and went on.

I told her four things that would make me believe god exists beyond any doubt. The first thing would be any direct manifestation of the divine to me and not to another that I was not there to witness. As long as I was neither drugged, drunk or hallucinating and there was no natural explanation then I would believe in god on the spot.

The second would be if their holy book [any religion] had any verifiable scientific knowledge that was not available at the time it was written. This would serve not only as evidence of god to me but evidence that a specific religious text was correct and therefore the correct religion. This would have to be pretty specific. For instance if there was a concrete description of  Special or General Relativity or a description of Quantum Mechanics then I would have to believe that a god was responsible for the knowledge. To date, not one religious text has that though.

The third would be verified genuine miracles. Not anything that can be explained by natural means nor do I mean things like the Virgin Mary appearing in a grilled cheese sandwich. A true miracle would definitely serve as a sign there is a god.

The fourth conclusive evidence to me would be any verified, specific and unambiguous prophecies written in a religious text or even spoken [not in tongues for you Pentecostals reading]. To be fair this rules out vague, trivial, contrived, self-fulfilling or past prophecies. Also I must mention that throwing out many predictions in the hope that one of them may be true is an automatic disqualification from consideration that a prophecy may be true.

I asked her if she sees the difference? Where nothing would convince her god doesn’t exist I mentioned four things that would definitely convince me. Since her belief is not falsifiable, it is faith only not evidential. Yet I still gave her three more reasons that would not be conclusive evidence but very strong.

The first would be if a religion’s holy book [notice I am not restricting this to any specific religion] was totally flawless and consistent with itself. This rules out all three of the monotheistic religions immediately.

The second would be if the followers of the religion [again not specific to any religion] never committed or have taken part in any atrocities and attributed it to their faith. For example just look at the genocides in the bible, the inquisitions, 9/11 and other Muslim terrorist acts, etc.

Last would be no internal disputes that show themselves as factions or sects. For example in Judaism we have Orthodox, Conservative and reform. In Islam we have Shia and Sunni and in Christianity we have the over 33,000 different denominations.

I told my friend that these three things would be fairly strong evidence not only for god’s existence but that a particular religious faith were correct. I gave her seven reasons, four that would convince me on the spot that god exists and another three that would not only provide evidence that god existed but would additionally point to a specific religion being correct. I think she could see the difference between her unfalsifiable belief and what I was telling her yet I had a strange feeling that she was going to try giving me some evidence [as she always did so no, it wasn’t a prophecy]. I was right but before she went further I told her some things I don’t consider evidence.

I told her under no circumstances would I accept personal conversion stories or anything subjective as evidence. Nor would I accept any of the pseudo-miracles such as the appearance or religious icons on toast or weeping statues. This includes faith healing or any phenomena that can be explained naturally. I told her I certainly wouldn’t accept creation ‘science’ regardless of it being Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism or creation in a lab coat meaning Intelligent Design. I also told her foolishness such as the bible codes, numerology and Kabbalistic mysticism are evidence of nothing. Not surprisingly after I told her this she decided she didn’t have any evidence to give me.

The conversation went on and we continued to talk about many different things or rather, she talked and I listened. I didn’t mind it because despite her beliefs I find her to be a fun person to talk to and be around. At the end of the conversation she told me she understands me better now and will pray that I come to know Jesus as she does. Before I hung up I asked her if she has been praying that since August when we first met. She said she has but because nothing happened it just means that it isn’t time yet. Can anybody say confirmation bias? At this point I was getting hungry so I ended the phone call.

[tweetmeme source=”noreligionblog” only_single=false https://noreligionblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/evidence-for-an-atheist%5D

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18 Responses

  1. My family won’t even get into these discussions with me. I “bait” them and they might nibble a bit. but as soon as the realize where the convo is headed, they shut up. Spoil sports!

  2. Very interesting post. I was surfing around yesterday and ran across a blog by fighting atheist; he had a youtube video with similar statements. I really glad to have the info because I never know what to say when someone asks me that question. I usually just say I would need to see god in the flesh and witness a few miracles. Thanks for giving me amo.

    • Didn’t know there was a video but it wouldn’t be too surprising since many atheists would say the same thing about evidence.

      • FYI
        There are tons of videos on youtube about every aspect of atheism, free thought, etc. I’m not a content provider, but am part of a very vocal community on youtube. If you weren’t aware, I can send you some links to a few of the more popular. There really is something for everyone.

      • Send em over. I just have a few and I do mean only a few.

      • This is kind of a mixed bag, some scientific, some anti-theists, some humor, some more vlogging, etc. You will discover more and add more as you go…they love to give each other shout outs. lol

        You can access all of these channels by using the url
        http://www.youtube.com/user (and then the name)
        AronRa
        AncientAtheist
        AtheistMediaBlog
        AuntieDiluvian
        Best0fAtheism that is a zero, I believe
        BestOfScience
        bewarethelizards42 caution..you might fall in love! 🙂
        bionicdance
        DonExodus2
        Evid3nc3
        gothatfunk
        hitchenschannel
        ItsTheSuperFly
        klfly
        LatumWay
        misterdeity
        patcondell
        philhellenes
        ProfMTH
        RHYMEMAIDEN1
        richarddawkinsdotnet
        SpiritKeeper
        TheAtheistExperience
        TheOtherSide100
        Thunderf00t those are zeroes, I believe

        This is just a small portion of the atheist community on YT. If you create an account, feel free to add me to your friend’s list, Debbieomi.

      • I subscribe to Mr. Diety, Evid3nc3 and TheAtheistExperience. I’ll check out the others. Thanks Deb.

  3. Very nice post. Your answers were good and the contrast with her “faith alone” position was striking.

    And, Debbie, thanks for the list of atheist vloggers. I’ve seen a few of them, but haven’t paid much attention to that part of the atheosphere. Maybe I’ll have to dip my toes a little deeper into those waters.

  4. I enjoy reading your material. It always amazes me how matter could produce the intelligence and ability to reason against a nonexistent God. (You may want to spend a few hours thinking about this statement.)

    The evidence of a Creator God surrounds you and yet you work so hard to deny what you see.

    One must work hard to fight against their own intelligence. Without intelligence you would not work so hard to discount that which has nothing what-so-ever to do with your life.

    Why are you spending so much time trying to convince those of us who believe that we shouldn’t?

    By the way, the conscience only answers to self. The self left to itself produces exactly what you are blaming religion for producing. The best example of the Bible’s truth is found in the nature of human beings.

    Wear yourself out. I fought for many years and yet when it was all said and done, I submitted to the Lord. I guess this proves my mental weakness… I couldn’t outlast God.

  5. I think this is a good post and has some good points but just because your friend couldn’t think of anything that could prove her faith wrong doesn’t mean that there are things she didn’t think of that could prove it wrong. That would make it falsifiable.

    Even if her faith wasn’t falsifiable it wouldn’t necessarily mean it was blind faith ether though. For an extreme example, I think therefore I am, and nothing can prove me wrong. It isn’t wrong though because there is so strong an evidence on one side that nothing could falsify it.

  6. ‘Yesterday’ wasnt Easter.

  7. is there anything I could say to you to make you believe that food doesn’t exist? No? Does that mean you have blind faith in the fact that food exists, or are you so convinced by what you already know that it’s not blind faith but a logical response to the evidence? xx

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