Evidence for and against God’s existence

I do consider the evidence for God. There isn’t any, as best I can tell.

There also isn’t any evidence against God.

That’s why I am agnostic, rather than atheist. I’ll continue to look for evidence. But, after this many years of looking, I’m doubtful that I will find any evidence either way.

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I hope you would consider the evidence that I presented in my book and also the other book God and Ultimate Origins.

Your book is now on my Kindle. And I will read it. My understanding is that it is just a presentation of evidence that I have already looked at, but found unpersuasive.

When I first considered the gospel evidence, at around age 11, I did find it persuasive (weakly persuasive). But when I carefully re-examined at around age 18, I found it not at all credible.

So I’ll read your book, and try to keep an open mind while reading it.

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Both very false statements. I wonder how you are defining evidence and when does a certain fact count as evidence for a certain hypothesis on your view

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On what basis do you claim those statements are false?

Seems that people are presenting a lot of evidence either for or against God. None of those evidences can definitely prove one way or the other so both atheism and belief in God require a certain level of faith.

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Yes, we all here agree that God doesn’t commonly raise people from dead. Thus, if someone saw a dead person alive again, they would believe that either the person never died, or God had done a miracle. Such an event would have had the power to cause the observer to believe in God.

If enough people saw the resurrected Jesus, they could have started a movement resulting in a new religion that has spread worldwide changing lives and impacting cultures globally…because people continue to experience positive impacts of God in their lives, even today

We aren’t talking proof. The claim was there is no evidence either for or against god. And that is just false. There are clearly facts about the world that are more probable on the assumption that atheism is true (things like mind-brain dependence) and there are clearly Facts about the world that are more probable on the assumption that theism is true (things like moral knowledge or the existence of moral agents). The question then becomes which hypothesis does the total evidence favor. I think it favors metaphysical naturalism, which is the position I defend. So I believe metaphysical naturalism is more likely to be true than theism.

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That seems to be accusing me of making false statements.

Evidence is a personal thing. What persuades one person might not persuade someone else.

As for what counts as evidence for an hypothesis – that depends on the hypothesis.

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Okay. Let’s break that down. Let’s use evolutionary theory as an example. Give me a line of evidence for evolution and how you reached the conclusion that that data point is evidence favoring evolutionary theory.

Most philosophers will define evidence as an observation that favors one hypothesis over another. I’m going to present an argument for naturalism and then theism. And if you ever have any objections maybe that will help me better understand how you see things.

So let’s start with how we access hypotheses. Lets say we are friends and we are roommates. I text you at work and tell you I’m baking a cake and it will be ready when you get home. Upon returning you enter the kitchen and you see all the bowls and ingredients clean and still in their packaging. Surely you would conclude I did not in fact bake the cake. Because these are things that are surprising on the hypothesis I baked the cake. You would not expect these things if I baked a cake. So these observations are evidence favoring no cake over a cake. You can take the same approach with the God question. If naturalism is true, what would we expect to see? Well Mind-brain dependence is one. Mind-brain dependence HAS to be true for naturalism to be true. Where on theism, God is a disembodied mind so it’s entirely possible for our minds to exist without brains. So while mind-brain dependence is compatible with theism, it’s more expected on naturalism. So it’s evidence favoring N over T.

What would be a line of evidence for theism? Well the existence of consciousness would be. Why? Because for theism to be true consciousness has to exist because it is it’s starting point. On theism Mind explains matter. God is a conscious being. So it’s not that surprising that other conscious beings exist. Now once again, consciousness is compatible with naturalism, but naturalism still could be true even if consciousness didn’t exist. So the existence of consciousness is evidence favoring T over N

For a masterclass on this approach watch Austin Dacey:

I know someone like Jeff Lowder has been defending this proposition, and I used to agree with it as it seemed intuitively obvious. But I’ve tried to unpack it to understand why it is not surprising, or less surprising on theism, than on naturalism. And by less surprising I take that to mean more probable. I asked him about it in a post to one of his threads on the secular outpost, but didn’t get a response.

Every time I try to think about what it is about theism that makes other conscious beings, such as ourselves, more probable on theism than on naturalism, I come up empty. Sure I can imagine a God that would want to create conscious creatures, but I can also imagine one that wouldn’t. I can imagine Gods that want infinitely many things. Try as I might I can’t extract any information that shows the probability of the existence of conscious humans to be higher on theism than on naturalism.

It seemed to be obvious at an intuitive level, but when I try to piece apart why, I can’t find what it actually is that makes (P:C|T) > (P:C|N).

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That hardly exhausts the possibilities, if we are lowering the bar sufficiently to allow “God had done a miracle” as a reasonable option.

The same could have happened if an Arabian merchant had started receiving messages from God to start a new religion that eventually grew to hundreds of millions of followers.

Of course, the same applies if people just believed he was receiving messages from God, but he wasn’t.

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If Joseph Smith had been told by the angel Moroni where to find the Golden Plates, resulting in a new religion that has spread worldwide . . .

If you want to better understand where atheists are coming from a good place to start would be to ask yourself why you don’t believe in the other gods and religions practiced by humankind over the millennia.

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As others have stated, a lot of this discussion orbits around the question of how we define evidence.

For me personally, evidence needs to be verifiable and independent. If evidence boils down to “because I say so” then I don’t count it as evidence. I can’t verify the personal experiences of others, so I don’t count it as evidence. Claims made by the very people trying to convert me to a religion aren’t independent. Claiming the Bible is true because it says it is true isn’t evidence.

Another way to describe it is that I look for evidence that I’m not tricking myself into a belief. You claim that atheism requires faith, but the basis for my atheism is my lack of faith in my reasoning skills. I look for objective and verifiable evidence so that I can strongly rule out my own biases and fallibilities. Not believing in something due to a lack of evidence is the absence of faith, at least in my book.

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Theories and hypotheses are not the same kind of things.

My general view of theories (in the sense of “scientific theories”) is that they are neither true nor false. There are no criteria by which we could judge the truth of a theory. Rather, we accept a theory on pragmatic grounds – how well it works.

Roughly, we attempt to determine whether hypotheses are true or false. But we cannot do that for theories. We can only attempt to see how well a theory works. The way that we judge theories is different from the way that we judge hypotheses.

Perhaps I am looking at “God exists” as a proposed theory, rather than as an hypothesis. I had not previously thought of it that way.

But that word “favors” is too vague.

I agree with your cake example.

I have never been able to make sense of “naturalism is true”.

If I take naturalism to be a stance that we adopt, I can make sense of that. But I don’t know what it would mean to say that it is true.

If God created nature, as many theists presume, then why would naturalism be opposed to theism?

I’m having trouble making sense of that, too. If consciousness is the starting point, that would seem to suggest that God is created by human thought. And that should count as against theism.

Obviously, we have very different ways of looking at this.

No. It just simply means is more probable on one hypothesis than another

Because metaphysical naturalism says the universe is a closed system. Anything that is not part of it affects it. This strongly implies there are no Gods. Atleast in the traditional theistic sense. In other words, on naturalism, matter explains mind. Whereas on theism, mind explains matter. I don’t think you’re aware of how most philosophers define metaphysical naturalism. Paul Draper’s definition tends to be the best.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you reached that conclusion at all. It just means that on theism, God is an eternal being. There has always been a conscious being. Theism works from there.

Yes. I believe it should be done inductively. Draper, Swinburne, etc. the god question should be viewed like any other competing hypotheses. I’m a card Carrying Bayesian. I start with my priors. I’m convinced by Paul Draper’s argument that atheism has a higher prior probability (http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/files/2014/07/Draper-God-and-the-Burden-of-Proof.pdf). Then I look at the facts of the world and ask myself which hypothesis best explains that fact. These are modest arguments that are meant to be used in a cumulative case. I don’t think any good deductive arguments exist for or against God’s existence. So I’m a big fan of what Richard Swinburne calls F-inductive arguments:
F-Inductive Arguments: A New Type of Inductive Argument | Jeffery Jay Lowder

I find it intuitively obvious. Though I hate relying on intuition. Just the fact that consciousness has to exist on theism, makes it a little better predictor of it’s existence. Though I would argue that there are more specific facts about consciousness (it’s dependence on a physical brain, neurological moral handicaps, neurological non-belief and cognitive biases) that eliminate consciousness as a line of evidence favoring theism. But I think all other evidence held equal, it favors theism.

And this is hopelessly vague, unless you have an actual model that you can use to estimate probabilities. If the issue is the existence of God, then we do not have any such model and talk of probabilities is mostly nonsense.

Does it?

If nature is a closed system, and God is outside that closed system, then there could be no evidence for or against the existence of God. If nature is a closed system and God is within that system, then this would make for antagonism between theism and naturalism.

I have looked for a coherent definition, but have not found one.

Oh, so you are assuming that God is conscious. Why should we assume that? Why should we assume that consciousness has any relevance to God?

I’m fine with Bayesian statistical inference. But I see Bayesian epistemology as absurd.

No. See cake example. The one you agreed with. I also suggest clicking on the links I shared.

If God is within the system then it isn’t closed… that’s the whole question. Is the universe closed or not? Theism makes certain claims. Which would require a non closed universe.

Because that’s what classical theism posits. Theism is the hypothesis that there exists an all powerful, all knowing, all good, personal being.

I’m a horrible communicator so I’m sorry if I’m
not being clear about some aspects