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August 3rd, 2009

I just don't get it ... @ 11:53 pm

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

I've been watching quite a few atheist vs. theist debates lately and there has been one "argument" that I've heard over and over again which is starting to drive me nuts. It is as follows and said in a smug tone of self-satisfied cleverness:

"Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence!"

Now, this is true as far as you can't say anything isn't possible just because you find no evidence for it. Proving a negative is very difficult for this reason. However, what annoys me is how the person who says this acts as though this sentence is the clincher for their argument. "You can't prove God doesn't exist so He must exist!"

I mean, how does that follow? Since when is having no evidence of something proof of something?

Sure, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but it sure as hell isn't evidence of presence either! It's an asinine proposition and I'm constantly surprised that it's never called out. I mean, I can make the same statement about unicorns and bigfoot - just because you've never seen a real picture of either of these things doesn't mean they can't exist somewhere and just haven't been found yet. Therefore, since you can't prove unicorns don't exist, they exist.

That is stupid.

I'm not sure why these people of faith feel the need to pretend that their beliefs are based on scientific evidence anyway - faith is, by definition, believing in something without evidence. Like, if I believe that a student who has always done poorly on tests will get an A on the final, that is faith. The evidence tells me that this student probably won't pass, yet I believe he will since my faith isn't based on evidence.

Another thing: I'd also like to know where some of these evangelicals get the idea that one can decide what they want to believe. I can't just suddenly decide to believe that the moon is made from cheese or that we're all actually in the Matrix. Just believe, just believe. It's not something I have a choice about! I can't believe in Jesus any more than I can believe that my brother is the reincarnated Napoleon. I could pretend to believe, which is what I did for the brief period when I was 12 and became a Born Again(tm) Christian. However, I'm not willing to devote my life to something that I know isn't true.

I honestly don't care what people believe. My brother's girlfriend believes in fairies. It doesn't bother me because she's not acting as though I'm a bad person for not believing in them or that it's imperative that I start believing. Likewise, I don't ask her to prove the existence of fairies to me - if she wants to believe in something I think is a little silly, that's her business and I have no desire to bully her about it.

You're a young Earth creationist? Fine. You believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis? Fine. You believe that a Jew named Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead two thousand years ago and is the son of God and is with us even today? Fine. You believe that everything and everyone must have been designed by an intelligent creator (who doesn't have to be God, totally, we swear!)? Fine. Just don't pretend that you're basing this on anything other than faith. Don't undermine science and the education of our children. It's bad enough that "under God" was shoehorned into the pledge in the 50s to save us from the Godless pinko commies - at least that is just a couple of words which no child really pays attention to.

But crippling a child's understanding of science ... that's a lot worse. And there's no need for it - plenty of scientists are religious, so a religious parent need not worry about that.

Because faith isn't based on evidence - therefore, no amount of evidence would convince a person of strong faith of anything they didn't already hold as true. By the same token, no amount of faith could convince me that God exists or that the Earth is 6000 years old. I need evidence.

... Where was I? Oh, yes. Stop saying "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" as though it actually proves something. Thanks.
 
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