no evidence

November 12, 2011

When confronted with the question of why they don’t believe in a god, atheists of all kinds have become used to declaring that they don’t because there’s no evidence for it. The response has become a hackneyed, automatic formula.

Well, as I’ve said in a previous post, I don’t define myself as an atheist. I’m a proscient. This means I define myself from what I know, not from what I believe. So it almost goes without saying that I have a very different take on the need for evidence of gods and/or other assertions of supernaturalism.

I need no lack of evidence not to believe that Mickey Mouse is not a real being. I’m an adult, that is, a human with a more complex and coherent view of reality than that of a child. No adult needs to say “There is no evidence for Mickey Mouse’s existence, therefore I don’t believe in him.” An adult can see through the drawing and clearly perceive that it’s man-made.

Similarly, I look at the Bible, the Koran and any number of other assertive stories, and I can see that they’re man-made. The simpler eye of a believer can’t see this; it can’t see through the elaborate and often contradictory narratives and perceive their casuistry or the human purpose sewing behind the scenes.

Every time I hear an atheist talk about evidence, I see a line going straight back to Bertrand Russell, to David Hume. Though they certainly contributed enormously to rational thinking, I suggest it’s time we updated some of their notions.

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3 Responses to “no evidence”

  1. FTLNewsFeed Says:

    The difference between knowledge and belief is evidence. If you give your reasoning for not believing in “Micky Mouse not being a real being” as you being an adult with “complex and coherent views of reality” you’re not giving a satisfactory explanation — it can still be asked of you: “Well how do you know?”. You must point to the evidence you have to back up what you know to be true. Besides, if Micky Mouse is real or not is not really a belief statement, it is a knowledge statement, since we know how he comes into being with a very high certainty (99.99999%).

  2. Permafrost Says:

    FTLNews,
    Well, my point is that adults have accumulated enough experience about the real world to *know* (that is, with 100% certainty) that Mickey Mouse –and indeed any other “existing” cartoon character– is not real and has in fact been created by humans for very specific purposes; not only that, but an adult can tell what those purposes are and engage in them at will, either as a cartoon creator or a fan. Furthermore, an adult needs no *direct and specific* evidence about any particular cartoon character to know that each and every cartoon character is not real.

    One can easily call the theists’ bluff by pointing out that the notion of Heaven & Hell serves a *human* purpose, and that it is many times more useful for certain human groups than it can conceivably be to a putative Creator of the Universe. You need no *direct and specific* evidence of this; all you need is a sufficiently grown-up mind with general knowledge about how human societies work. An adult can go one step further and demonstrate that the notion of Hell and other strictly religious notions must necessarily be man-made because, if they didn’t exist, someone would eventually find it expedient to create them anyway in order to try and control society. Therefore, a sufficiently experienced or intelligent person will not feel compelled to give those truth claims any more than a passing glance.


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