The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Evidence For God SHOULD Be Overwhelming. Irrefutable. So Why Is It That The Best Believers Can Come Up With Boils Down To Special Pleading and Arguments From Ignorance?


In responding to Bill O'Reilly's recent expression of ignorance over how the tides are formed, comedian Stephen Colbert remarked "There must be a God because I don't know how things work."  This pretty much summarizes not only O'Reilly's religious ignorance, but that of MANY believers.  Because whenever we ask believers to provide proof for their fantastical belief that there is an invisible sky man who holds the Universe together, intervenes in our affairs, answers our prayers, smites our enemies and bestows knowledge upon us via revelation, they ALWAYS punt, retreating into vague mutterings and hand waving to explain away the very simple fact that they do not have any evidence.

The simple fact is that if there really WAS an invisible supernatural entity intervening in our daily lives, answering our prayers, smiting His enemies and revealing knowledge to us, the evidence would be literally EVERYWHERE.  The evidence would be overwhelming.  Instead, we have... ... ... ... silence.

I do not for a moment doubt that most believers pray with deep and moving sincerity.  They pray with all their hearts and minds and faith, certainly with more than a 'mustard seed' of faith.  Yet there is ZERO statistical evidence for the efficacy of prayer.  None.  In fact, studies actually suggest that prayer actually makes the situation worse.  In contrast, when we look at the statistical relationship between say smoking and lung cancer, the positive relationship is astounding.  Incidence of lung cancer among smokers is 40 times higher than among non-smokers.  The same goes for obesity and heart disease where obese individuals are 50% (female) and 72% (male) more likely to suffer heart failures than their non-obese peers.

The point is that where there is an ACTUAL causal relationship, we see OBVIOUS and STRONG trends.  If Prayer worked the way believers claim it does, the evidence of its efficacy would be absolutely overwhelming.  We would see huge discrepancies in the rates of healing between believers and non-believers.  We would see believers hurling mountains into the sea.  We would see the magic of prayer all around us.  Instead, we see nothing.  Instead, its efficacy is nothing more than statistical white noise.

And where is all the smiting?  Yahweh is an angry, jealous god.  And Allah is even more of a pissy old man than John McCain.  The Abrahamaic traditions are chock full of the smiting of the evildoers.  Where is all the smiting?  These bitchy old men like nothing better than smiting their enemies.  They seem to glory in it.  So why is there no evidence of the divine wrath anywhere around us?

Why are the countries with the highest standards of living and the longest lifespans almost uniformly the most godless countries on earth?  Why do the godless recover from life threatening illness at exactly the same rate as believers (see above)?  Why are we godless secular atheists not on the receiving end of a demonstrable divine smiting on a daily basis?  Where is the evidence?

And where are all of the revelations?  Where are all of the theological breakthroughs?  Where is all of that divine knowledge?  Quick!  Name the most important theological discovery of the last 10 years.  ... ... ... How about the last 100 years.  Actually, name a single theological discovery or breakthrough.  ... ... ...

While God has stagnantly twiddled His twaddle, human beings have been quite busy, using the power of our brains and reason and rationality and science to cure the incurable, extend our lives, split the atom, crack the human genome, send humans into the heavens and an overwhelming litany of other accomplishments too voluminous to even begin to describe.  Meanwhile, theology peddles the same old story it has been peddling for the last few millenia.  If some supernatural entity is really in the business of revealing knowledge, one would think that he might have done SOMETHING to advance our knowledge of the world around us in the last few thousand years.  Instead, all the heavy lifting has been done by us poor benighted losers cursed with the taint of original sin.

So where is He?  Why is He always hiding?  Why is He always retreating?  Gods have always been shy, first hiding on the tops of mythological mountains, then retreating to the upper atmosphere, then out into space, but it's getting ridiculous.  God clearly has some pathological God now exists in some aspatial atemporal neverneverland that is everywhere and nowhere and everywhen and nowhen at the same time.

If a hyperintelligent entity is busy intermeddling in our affairs, responding out our supplications, dispensing justice, smiting the unbelievers and bestowing knowledge upon us, there should be more than a ancient handful of internally contradictory, logically inconsistent and factually erroneous documents to demonstrate the truth of such a hypothesis.  If such a thing were actually true there should be a mountain of evidence.  It should be plain as day.  But it isn't.  It isn't even close.

When believers proffer their supposed evidence it basically boils down to an illogical load of special pleading and arguments from ignorance.  Because they have no real evidence.  Certainly nothing that can withstand any degree of logical scrutiny.

Indeed, I have already shown their strongest evidence of all - God's appearance in tortillas around the world.  While it appears God is much too busy to bother answering prayers or smite his enemies or bestow knowledge upon us lowly sinners, He is apparently never too busy for Mexican food.


  1. I'd love to see some of these questions answered but I expect there will be nothing but a long silence. I hope I'm wrong.

  2. God is like a big brother who is never there, but used by so many as an excuse. "My big brother will get you if you don't do what I say". "So where is this big brother of yours" "He's away, but when he comes back he's gonna get you"

    One of my favourite things believers say is "We've got the bible as evidence". Then you tell them "Well we've got thousands of books, all with physical evidence you can find for yourself". Then it's always "Oh, but you have to believe in god to see and feel him", that's the recruitment card for "You must submit to mindlessness and hopefully be so brainwashed enough that you'll believe it"

  3. So Why?
    There is No Why...only How
    & with or without a Hay Zeus.....there is no Meaning.

  4. I'm here because I saw you on Skepticat's blogroll.

    This is a great post. Of course, only skeptics, atheists, and those who are teetering on the edge of disavowing their religion will read it. I say this because I too have written my heart out about the absurdity of religious faith, and I have NO thought that it has made the least difference in the life of even one believer because they really and truly, honest to god, with all their hearts don't give a flying fuck about evidence. After all, if believing in the absence of evidence will win you a folding chair in heaven, then belief in the face of contradictions and absurdities will surely win you an all leather recliner with a heat and massage function.

  5. Faith doesn't require evidence, that's why it's called faith. Faith is the thing that fills the vacuous canyons of convinced believers minds, if you can believe a believer has a mind. Read an article at Freethinker stating that an archbishops wife saying that xians need to speak more about their religion and desparing that xians (& all the other nonsense religions) are being discriminated and outspoken xians are seen as being bigoted racists and are a bit silly. That's true because these people are believing in totally irrational rubbish, based to things written by nomadic goatherders in the bronze age. Like homeopathy, there's nothing in it. No truths, only fraudulent nonsense that really deserves to put away and forgotten.

  6. An amazing collection of Straw Man arguments here...which is to be expected from a Lawyer.

    An Actual Freethinker

  7. Said by a true believer! Did you even read AND give give some thought to this blog post?? Many atheists have had a religious upbringing and give much thought to whether religious teachings are true or not. We just choose to critically judge the (lack of) evidence before making up our minds...unlike religious folks (like you) who gloss over the facts. And you can't even leave your REAL name!! LOL

  8. "An amazing collection of Straw Man arguments here..."

    Since you offered no evidence to support your contention that his arguments are illogical--or that your religion is true--I assume that we just have to have faith.

    Paula is right--and her argument is backed up by last year's Pew survey--that nonbelievers tend to know a great deal about religion. In fact, we know more than believers.

  9. Prayer is our way of communication with God. While we Christians believe that he is everywhere and knows everything already, our world is not linear. I believe that God exists in a larger dimension that allows for the knowledge of all possibilities (ever watched Imagining the Tenth Dimension?), and with that knowledge, in one sense, he knows what we're going through, so we don't HAVE to tell him. But the point of prayer is that we are telling him and asking him and acknowledging the fact he is so much large than we are. God doesn't have to and won't just answer all of our prayers. He isn't our servant. We believe that he created us and we are then asking something of him, someone who is far greater and more powerful than we are. I believe that prayers often times aren't 'answered' because of free will. We can't ask God to change someone's mind for them, only to allow them the opportunities to change. Also, we believe that the world is a place of evil, which humanity brought upon itself. God gave us free will because he didn't want mindless creatures to praise him and tell him he was awesome for creating them. But, that evil within the world means that everyone is affected by it and does acts of it. And evil is not fair, therefore just due to the fact that everyone is born in sin and commits bad acts, that allows for any consequences of the world we live in, regardless whether the consequences are on par with the 'size' or severity of the actions.

    I was caught by your statement about God being "busy intermeddling in our affairs, responding out our supplications, dispensing justice, smiting the unbelievers and bestowing knowledge upon us" because I don't think that that's how Christians really see God at all. God isn't doing everything we tell him to, or helping us whenever we need it because we don't deserve it. Plus, we don't want him to: If God helped us out of every bad situation, then we wouldn't really have free will because we wouldn't be able to make those choices, and we'd just be angry that we weren't able to do what we wanted.

    Personally, I liken the idea to parenting (which is why I think Christians refer to God as 'the father'). Parents 'create' their children. They are of them, they gave them life. And, there are many times parents know what their children are going through and what is bothering them or making their life difficult, but they won't intervene because they can't just make everything better. A parent doesn't want to see their child never get hurt, but instead see their child chose to not do the things that will hurt them.

    Now, I'm not saying I know everything. And, I do admit I'm not the most knowledgeable person on Christianity, I'm not a theologian. I'm also not trying to debate (regardless of my religious affiliation, I am the most horrible debater that has probably ever existed). I just thought I'd comment since I saw most of the comments were from atheists and were almost asking for someone with different beliefs to respond...

    Anyway, I hope that helps you wrap your mind around it. If not... I guess I just suck at explaining things. Sorry.

  10. I'm going to answer as many questions as well as I can, in the order in which they appear. *deep breath*.... ok. Firstly, being the loudest person in the room does not make you the smartest (O'Reilly). Secondly, prayer is a request, not a command. If me receiving a million dollars randomly in the mail does not have suitable consequences (for God, not me), then I will not receive a million dollars. Also, prayer is not supposed to be a last line of defense when you need something. Your prayers are a way to thank God for everything you have received thus far, everything that you need (read that word twice) is automatically added to your person throughout your life once you accept God (Obligatory Quote- "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 7:33).

    There are several ways to think about the smiting. One, it does not say once in the Bible that everyone who is a sinner shall be struck down by a lightning bolt, or anything like it. Their souls are to be properly punished by being thrown into hell after they die. Two, God chooses who to smite, not us. In fact, we are specifically told by Christ in Matthew's gospel that we are not to try to judge others (judge as in determine the worth of their soul), for we are not equipped for it. Three, not everyone who is bad goes to hell (or as you like to say, "is smited"). Only the truly wicked, twisted souls go to hell. We are judged by our state of grace, not on some cosmic chalkboard, as your strawman likes to say. All the Christians I know understand that once you are truly sorry, and wish to be forgiven, the sin is erased, and you are (most likely temporarily) debt-free. For those who are unlucky enough to die with some sins against you, the fires of purgatory clean off the sins of your soul that could not be wiped on Earth, and you get to be in heaven. Only the people who turn their back on God, and do not wish to be forgiven for their moral transgressions, who would even deny them entirely, go to hell. It is unfortunate that it must be this way, but where you do not use your free will to better yourself, so the consequences must come down. That is justice, not jealousy or grumpiness.

    Thirdly, the divine knowledge you seek is right in the Bible itself. It is encoded in verse after verse, in many different literary styles. From parables to allegory and symbolism, the basics of life are all drawn out for the mind of a child to be able to understand. You just have to look! Also, I must argue that comparing science and religion is impossible. They may help each other in many ways, for example, the cracking of the human genome by Dr. Francis Collins (Christian) and his team helped him to have a better understanding of how great a scientist God is himself! But when it comes to comparing science and religion on scientific questions, well, that is just not an arguement at all.

  11. Sorry, long post. This is the rest of it:

    Let me put it like this: Science explains and explores the material universe and its principles, such as biology, physics, mathematics, etc. Religion answers the great existential matters that man has always been concerned with, such as "What is right and wrong?" and "Why does anything have meaning?". These questions science cannot explain, for how can you determine something's meaning through the scientific method? You can't. On the flipside, how can a system of moral rights and wrongs tell you how to develop efficient alternative energy? You can't. Faith and Science need each other, in order to explain the totality of this world.

    Fourth, you should become a Theologian if you are to talk about the validity of the Bible as a whole. I only know that it consists of 66 books written by 40 authors over the course of about 1500 years, translated and edited countless times, that it contains literal narratives, allegorical poetry, law, and everything in between. The scholars who decipher truths from the Bible are not simply reading it off verbatim and recording the results. No, they carefully analyze and reanalyze every verse to extract all possible meanings, with respect to the author's literary style and time periodin which they lived in mind. Without responding to your numerous and blatantly blasphemous rantings, I would like to leave you with a quote, by an unknown author:

    "The reason an atheist cannot find God is the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman."

  12. The ignorance of man, you gotta love it.
    You are a mere man.
    You 'want' to know everything, and therefore you think you 'can' know everything. Somethings are beyond us, and beyond science. Remember, science discovers these wonderful things, it does not create them.

    Regards faith :
    faith is a courageous leap of the heart and earns my upmost respect x