Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Where is all the evidence?

Why is it that virtually all religions have moved towards belief in invisible, undetectable gods rather than visible, detectable ones?

In the Bible, God is often found on mountain tops or in the clouds. But he was suddenly relocated into space once we invented flight. Since then he has been moved further still after the discovery of other galaxies and an entire universe.

The problem with invisible, undetectable gods is that they are indistinguishable from non-existent ones. I've spoken to many believers who have every conceivable excuse for why their god isn't immediately obvious to everyone. If a snake oil salesman told you the "snake" was hidden, invisible, immaterial, in heaven, or beyond space and time, would you believe them? Why is it different with gods?

Believers from all religions have gotten quite inventive when coming up with explanations for why the god they believe in is not readily apparent, without ever stepping back and asking why their explanations were necessary in the first place. Why does their god need them, to tell us, that it exists?

It gets worse. 

If there isn't sufficient evidence to determine whether a god exists, on what basis can said god judge people for unbelief?

On the other hand, if there is sufficient evidence, then clearly the majority of people have failed to discover it (no matter which religion is true, at least two thirds of the world's population believe in something else), which must mean that the majority of people have not correctly identified nor interpreted said evidence. If a god created so many people without sufficient rational capacity to infer its existence from said evidence, then on what basis can it judge them for incorrect beliefs?

In a nutshell, if humans are so irrational that so many of us have gotten it all wrong, then why are beliefs the main criteria upon which we will supposedly be judged?

Why are beliefs even considered valid criteria for approval/salvation anyway? It just doesn't make any sense.

So why do people believe?

By far the most common reasons I've heard for belief in god(s) take the form of logical fallacies.

Believers typically point to the origin of life or the universe as "evidence", arguing that God must have created everything, because otherwise they have no other explanation for it. Effectively the argument is, "I don't know how this thing came to be, therefore God must have done it". This is known as "argument from personal incredulity", and the reason it is a fallacy is quite simply that your lack of knowledge or understanding about a thing does not constitute evidence for something else.

The time to believe in a god is after it has been demonstrated to exist, and not before. You can speculate, guess, or just make-believe based on nothing more than what you were taught as a kid (call it faith if you like), but you don't get to call your belief justified or warranted until after you present sufficient evidence. And if you do that, you'll be the first person ever to do so. Good luck!