Recently, I’ve been crossing swords with some Christians. A Calvinist, an evangelical American Christian fundamentalist, a Christian whose God doesn’t really punish people for sins by sending them to hell, a Quaker who doesn’t like to call himself a Quaker, quite a motley lot. They are all very different in what they claim is the objective truth of Christianity, and also quite sure that their version is the correct one. If they weren’t, they’d not be the type of Christian that they are, eh?
(as usual, this is a riff on some themes I’ve discussed before. You have been warned 🙂 ).
The Christian, equippedcat, whom I met on Hessian With Teeth’s blog, was indignant that I asked for evidence from Christians and claimed that I wasn’t presenting evidence for what I supposedly believed (the whole very long discussion can be found in comments here). I had presented this evidence, but it got me thinking, what evidence would my opponents consider valid? EC said that he was looking for “universally valid evidence” too. I wondered what that exactly was to him. He of course has not yet explained what that is. I’ve invited him here to do so. ( and he has which I do appreciate. See down in the comments).
Evidence is considered at its base “something which shows that something else exists or is true (Merriam-webster.com). You can get more refined with what a court might consider evidence, but for my purposes, I think this is a pretty good definition. Many Christians claim that their personal experiences should be considered evidence, as valid as anything else. However, let me present a situation: Drugs can give hallucinations. Someone near and dear to me had hallucinations that there were giant mosquitos attacking him after taking lithium. I, after smoking salvia, saw the entire world as constructed out Twizzlers (yes, the candy). Now is this evidence? And evidence for what? Well, it *can* be considered evidence, no doubt about that. The hallucination shows that *something* occurred. The question is what was that *something*?
The two most obvious possibilities are that giant mosquitoes exist/ Twizzlers really are the foundation of the universe *or* that drugs can really screw with your brain chemistry. Now, which conclusion is supported by even more evidence? This is what is crucial to further support the claim. We know that brains work by chemicals. If a new chemical is introduced and always causes this occurrence, then we have causation, not just correlation. If no further evidence of giant mosquitoes or my steam radiator being constructed of Twizzlers can be found, then the possibility of giant mosquitoes and universal Twizzlers diminishes.
People can of course give reasons why I can’t find these giant mosquitoes and Twizzlers. That quickly becomes a version of Carl Sagan’s “dragon in my garage” argument, where more and more ridiculous excuses are offered to explain why I can’t find the mosquitos or Twizzlers. These excuses start to eat into the claims of the Twizzlers and mosquitoes because the items in question start losing their innate attributes. What started being very firmly defined as a real object, a far larger than usual blood sucking insect of the family Culicidae and now becomes more and more vague. Twizzlers are one of my favorite candies, a fruit flavored licorice-oid strip of sugar and well, I’m not sure what. They are kosher though J
If the mosquitoes and Twizzlers now become invisible, floating, incorporeal, unable to be eaten, unable to drink blood, etc, they cease to be mosquitoes and Twizzlers. If no evidence can be offered other than personal experience, there is little reason to believe that those bugs and candy existed.
This is why I do not find the claims of believers in god/s to be true. We have believers of ostensibly the same religion being unable to show that the religion is true or that their particular version of it is true. They may have personal experience, as many believers of many faiths claims, but they have nothing else. Those personal experiences can be explained by other means, which further weakens the argument and the fact that most, if not all believers, doubt the personal experiences of other believers weakens their argument again. They do not apply the same standards to their own religion but expect others to accept claims that they do not accept.
We have some Christians who are sure predestination is true.
We have Christians who are sure that free will is ultimately important to this god.
We have Christians who are sure that “Sex between man and wife is a gift. Other sex has potentially serious negative consequences, so even if God does not care about it, or does not exist, such sex should still be avoided. Not Puritan, common sense to put the good of ones self and the good of the world above ones own pleasures.”And Christians who are sure that God really doesn’t give a damn on how we use our genitals.
God now has multiple and contradictory attributes.
We have Christians who are sure that their god interfered constantly with humanity in the bible (killing millions for sin), but when asked why it doesn’t now when the bible claims the mere thought of sin is worthy of the same punishment as the actual act, this god suddenly changes attributes to the point it is no longer recognizable. This god is so mysterious, no one knows what it does or why it does it. “It is clear that punishment may not be applied until after death. A system which seems to suck, I agree. But neither of us is God, so our opinion does not matter..”
God becomes remade to reflect reality and claims about this god cease to be knowledge but only metaphor.
We are still stuck looking for evidence for religion. I posed these questions to EC, but will pose them here again for others to perhaps take a shot at:
“There is no evidence whatsoever for the exodus, not even a date [something I have repeatedly asked Christians for and have not gotten], no evidence of an Egyptian kingdom that lost its entire army, no evidence for a resurrected man/god, no evidence for the sun going dark magically during an earthquake, where the dead walked around, etc. I have mentioned all of this before. Now, we can again postulate that some god that does nothing and is hiding under a rock on Zeta Reticuli V. Is this your god? Is this any god ever worshipped by humans? Is this a god at all per the definition?”
“Please also tell me how you would like things to be “proven”. Is objective evidence enough? For example, the evidence that Egypt never lost its entire army as the bible claims? That the city of Tyre was never destroyed by your god to the point that no one can find it and a quarter of a million people live there right now and archaeology digs are going on right now there? That there was no darkening of the sun on a day that there was an earthquake in the eastern Med, where the dead walked, but just regular human activity on any date that Christians might claim as the passion and resurrection? What would be “universally valid” evidence be?”
“So, how do you want me to produce evidence here on the ‘net, EC? If me writing out all of the evidence that exists isn’t good enough, then what is? Would pictures be okay? Would links to articles? If so, I have told you these things are on my blog which you can easily search. But since you seem to need to ignore that offer, I shall put links to those things: https://clubschadenfreude.com/2013/02/06/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-the-illegible-post-part-1/