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No gods. No evidence. Stop Saying There Is!

September 3, 2014

Ridiculous claims don’t warrant consideration.

I consider it a complete waste of time to debate the fine points of scripture or religion. They are all based on the central claim that there is a god or gods. Remove that central claim and what is left? We are left with nonsensical gibberish that is laughable for its terrible writing, contradictions, impossible scenarios, uneducated superstition, and horrid violence, calls to war, misogyny, mistrust and tribalism… a promotion of all the worst attributes of humans. No, the central pillar is the god myth, and without it, the castle crumbles into sand.

No, there is no god. Not the one you were raised with, not anyone else’s. Not even one that remains undefined.

No, there is no evidence for gods. Not even weak evidence.

No, you aren’t an agnostic atheist. You know damn well there are no gods. That’s atheism. You just don’t have a satisfactory way of expressing it.

Forget the wishy-washy “lack belief” mantra. It’s nonsensical and defers to a default position of belief.  If you aren’t damn sure, you are still a theist. If you aren’t damn sure, you don’t take Pascal’s wager. If you aren’t damn sure, you are still waiting for a signal that would convince you. On receiving a message or a sign from god, an atheist probably questions their mental health, or investigates the phenomenon like any other. They don’t drop everything and exclaim “God!”. That is a theist. No, there is nothing that would convince me. Although you would think an existent god should be able to handle that… Too bad there isn’t.

So how can you know there are no gods?

They are defined and described as beyond space and time, beyond comprehension… omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, all loving… claims that seem at odds with observable reality, yet vague enough as to leave doubt. The gods work in mysterious ways. Who can understand the mind of gods? These are concepts that have evolved and been refined as human intellect has grown. Older gods were cast aside when prayers didn’t work, crops failed, rains didn’t come, natural disasters struck, communicable disease ran rampant, or their claims could be shown to be false. The newer, more refined gods, don’t have the burden of having to perform, interact, be visible, etc… It is precisely this undefined, vague quality… along with the carrot and stick of heaven and hell… that have made the current incarnations successful. “I don’t have to prove anything to you. But if you don’t believe… oh boy, you better believe there will be trouble. My sycophants will see to you in this life, and my alter ego will make sure death is no escape from the torment, EVER! But I love you.”

Gods are by definition supernatural. They don’t dwell within the realm of reality, within what we know to to be true. They are beyond the bounds of physics, and have never been shown to influence natural events. They are everywhere, but unseen and undetected. Exactly like things that don’t exist. Exactly like sprites and leprechauns. In fact there is no evidence of a supernatural realm at all… NOR COULD THERE BE. If it was detectable, it would be just another natural phenomenon that can be explained with our knowledge of reality. It can only be supernatural if it can NEVER be detected. Think of any other claim from the realm of the supernatural… sprites and leprechauns, gremlins, poltergeists, ghosts, demons, fairies, and on and on… There is not, and can NEVER be evidence for them, or they cease to be supernatural.

Ra, Odin, Zeus, Vishnu, Yahweh, Allah… or my beloved feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl… Whatever name you want to use, they all suffer from the same malady; nonexistence. Now you could say “But god is omnipotent, and if he chooses to remain out of sight, he can do it.” But what is the basis for this claim? What evidence would make this more probable than simple nonexistence? I assert now, and ask anyone to disprove it, that the gods we know of hatched from eggs laid by an invisible, magical, god-making platypus. How is this claim less likely than the claims of gods? Yet we don’t suspect this is dubious. We KNOW it is utter rubbish.

There are students of philosophy among us, mostly strongly atheist, that REPEATEDLY state that there IS evidence for god. And they pass a link around to a dreadful video by John Hawthorne stating to a room full of students that indeed, there is evidence, and this should be thought of as completely acceptable and noncontroversial. Hawthorne even breaks out the statisticians toolkit, Bayes theorem, (video here: Theism, Atheism and Bayesiansim – Part 1 (John Hawthorne) to lend it credence, or an air of legitimacy. “The fact there is life is evidence for a life giving god.” Sure it is, in the same way gods would be evidence for a god-egg laying platypus.  That is a terrible and misleading application of a useful tool, and is the exact opposite of philosophy. Philosophy defined is “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.” What the video does is presuppose god as a possible explanation when it should be ruled out as are all supernatural claims. It is not instructive, and tells us nothing about knowledge, reality or existence.

Of course Bayes is a useful tool. But for discounting the god notion, not advocating for it. The first Bayes chart should be divided into “Natural explanations” and “Supernatural explanations”. Not once has any of the billions of prayers to any of thousands of gods been shown to have any effect. Not once has there been a verifiable sighting of god. Not once has a miracle been shown to be anything but natural. Not once has ANY supernatural claim been shown to be true. NOR COULD IT BE, or it wouldn’t be supernatural. Given the immense weight of prior knowledge, and total and utter absence for anything we could describe as supernatural, we can discard that entire category from consideration. If the entire category can be discarded, gods go with it. You can’t then subsequently claim further down the road that we can insert god here as a possible explanation when they were discarded in STEP #1.

God claims can and should be held to the same standards we hold other claims of the supernatural… mistrust and disdain. We should not be wavering or deferring. I’m not agnostic. I don’t even like the term atheist. I refer to myself as a skeptic, because I like my truths to have explanations, preferably that make sense and backed by evidence. And this is not purely academic. Religion is incredibly destructive. Look around the world at the strife in the name of various gods. Look at the monumental waste. We do no one a favor by giving gods a pass. No, gods aren’t here, never were, and never will be. And we need to say so, firmly and with conviction, for ourselves, and especially for those that would be endangered by saying so.

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14 Comments
  1. I am also a skeptic! Always glad to meet a fellow!

    Since you, as I, prefer your truth claims to be cogent and backed by evidence, perhaps you can elucidate upon your evidence showing that gods do not exist? The only evidence offered in your article were Arguments from Ignorance regarding lack of evidence in favor of gods. I assume, being the rational skeptic that you are, you have better reasons for believing no gods exist than these fallacies…

    • You aren’t a skeptic.

      • Lovely assertion! Perhaps you’d be willing to divulge the evidence by which you came to that conclusion? I certainly thought myself to be a skeptic, but I would change my mind if strong evidence to the contrary could be demonstrated.

  2. “The only evidence offered in your article were Arguments from Ignorance regarding lack of evidence in favor of gods. I assume… you have better reasons for believing no gods exist than these fallacies”

    Nothing could be more conclusive than your ridiculous comments.

    • Ridiculous in what manner? You wrote:

      Not once has any of the billions of prayers to any of thousands of gods been shown to have any effect. Not once has there been as verifiable sighting of god. Not once has a miracle been shown to be anything but natural. Not once has ANY supernatural claim been shown to be true.

      These are fairly textbook Argument from Ignorance fallacies. The fact that something has not been shown to be true is not a very good reason for believing that proposition to be false. For a simple example from biology, we have not been able to demonstrate a manner in which abiogenesis could have produced the first life on Earth, but that does not mean that we should discard abiogenesis as a hypothesis. In math, we have not shown the Collatz Conjecture to be true, but that doesn’t mean that the Collatz Conjecture is false. In cosmology, we have absolutely no data older than the Cosmic Microwave Background, but that doesn’t mean that the universe didn’t exist prior to the CMB’s generation. Et cetera, et cetera.

      So, again, considering that you are a rational skeptic, I would assume that you have some evidence for the non-existence of gods which is somewhat more reasonable than Ignorantium fallacies.

      • Argument from ignorance does not preclude pragmatism, nor good reasons for thinking something doesn’t exist. And reason IS what seems to be escaping you. By your ‘reasoning’, no supernatural claim can be excluded because supernatural claims can not be examined. The example I used to illustrate was the god-egg laying, magical platypus. If you can prove that doesn’t exist, use the same method for gods. If you can’t prove it doesn’t exist, you’ve simply illustrated any claim sufficiently ridiculous or vague can be placed along side god claims.

        You don’t dispute that god claims by definition are claims of the supernatural. You also don’t acknowledge the statistical significance of supernatural claims (innumerable) vs confirmations (zero). This does not parallel abiogenesis in any way. We know there is life. There are observable patterns in evolution showing life has evolved from very simple to complex, that lead back to the reasonable conjecture of abiogenesis. Self replicating protein strands have been created in lab settings in conditions thought to mimic what earth may have been like when life began. No, we can’t say for certain how life began, but it IS reasonable given this knowledge to assume that is a possibility.

        In fact none of your examples in any way parallels an untestable claim of the supernatural. You don’t address the testability, nor the claim that it can NEVER be tested, and is therefore an invalid hypothesis. Of course a god could suddenly appear, submit to testing and prove this wrong… or could it? Again, by claim and definition, gods are not possessed of physical properties. If it appeared, how would you know? In the absence of said god, it seems it is not testable, not falsifiable, or as Paulli said “it is not only not right, it is not even wrong”. What it IS is a waste of time discussing.

      • There is quite a difference between rejecting a claim and affirming its opposite. When a person says to me, “God exists,” I can quite reasonably reply, “I do not believe you.” However, it would be unreasonable for me to respond with, “God does not exist.” By definition, an unfalsifiable claim cannot be disconfirmed.

        I completely agree that unfalsifiable claims are exercises in futility, and that a person is fully justified in rejecting such hypotheses. I’ve spent a great deal of time on my own blog addressing that very subject, as it applies to Lorentzian versus Einsteinian Relativity. However, you seem to be ignoring the fact that “gods do not exist” is just as much an unfalsifiable claim as is “gods exist.” To paraphrase the old adage, two logical missteps do not make a sound argument.

        Incidentally, I would actually dispute the assertion that all god claims are supernatural. There are numerous deists, pantheists, panentheists, animists, and polytheists who believe in gods that are entirely natural. Your understanding of “gods” seems to be limited to the properties ascribed by Classical Monotheism.

      • Your logic fails. “God does not exist” is NOT unfalsifiable. Producing a god falsifies it. This is not the same as asserting “God exists” without evidence. That IS unfalsifiable.

        We are recycling what is already written in the blog. If it is not supernatural, it is natural, hence subject to examination like anything else in the natural world. Dictionary definitions override what individuals want to define for themselves. If someone wants to call their cat a god, that doesn’t change the accepted definition, nor does it make all cats gods.

      • If we are restricting the conversation to supernatural conceptions of deity, then “God does not exist” is most certainly an unfalsifiable claim. By your own assertion, it is impossible to produce a supernatural entity, therefore it is incoherent to propose that production of a god would falsify your claim.

  3. And that’s enough time wasted. Address the blog contents. I’m sure you can find someone else to indulge you in the endless circling of the drain.

    • I’ve done nothing but address the blog contents. I’ve addressed your unsubstantiated claim that gods do not exist. I’ve addressed your fallacious Arguments from Ignorance. I’ve addressed your assertion that all god claims are necessarily supernatural. I’ve addressed your self-identification with skepticism.

      You are trying to have your cake and eat it, too. You cannot rationally assert that god-claims are unfalsifiable due to their supernatural underpinnings, while simultaneously making god-claims which you assert to be falsifiable. This is an incoherent position.

  4. Search “argument from ignorance”. Here, let me do it and give you the link… http://bit.ly/1xffIdI … Select the first link. Now read the first paragraph. Need help understanding?

    Again, let me assist. There is no false dichotomy because there is nothing that has ever been so thoroughly investigated. It is NOT argument from ignorance. The statistical burden of supernatural claims vs confirmations was also mentioned. But… BUT… let’s just put that aside, as I already charitably did previously, for a moment…

    Now read the second paragraph. Again, allow me to interpret: As with Russell’s teapot, we DO have good reasons for thinking that something does not exist. Rational people understand a claim requires evidence. The more extraordinary the claim, the greater the evidential requirement. And no claim is more extraordinary or ridiculous than claims of the supernatural, especially gods.

    Your “argument from ignorance fallacy” claim fails on both counts. Again. Stop using failed arguments.

    Are all gods supernatural? This has also been addressed. Cats anyone? Words have meanings. Someone’s personal interpretation of ‘god’ does not override dictionary definitions. If a god is natural, it is testable. And it still needs to meet the teapot test.

    For your own sake, if not mine, please stop using failed arguments.

    Do you start from the position that unicorns exist until proven otherwise? What about sprites and leprechauns? Have you disproven them yet? Have you disproven the god-egg laying, magical platypus yet? These are tests I specifically mentioned both in the blog and in replies. Yet you deliberately avoid them. When you disprove them, apply that logic to the god or gods of your choosing.

    Answer the questions.

    Your arguments are at best bad applications of theological apologists’ philosophical arguments. They are NOT arguments of evidential claims. AND THEY HAVE BEEN DEALT WITH. Please DO NOT reply unless you can avoid the previous failed arguments, and demonstrate a reasonable answer to the questions mentioned above.

    Repeating the same failed arguments ad nauseum and ignoring the responses displays nothing but cognitive dissonance. And your determination to hold your ground when your arguments are shown weak or not applicable is NOT admirable.

    To be more clear… you could not be further from a skeptic. Your refusal to apply reason and logic, and assumption anything that can be imagined is true unless proven otherwise, is the very model for the gullible believer.

    • You don’t seem to have very good reading comprehension, sir. I am an atheist, a naturalist, a rationalist, and an evidentialist. I have not once assumed that “anything that can be imagined is true unless proven otherwise.” I am certainly not a “gullible believer,” nor am I proposing “bad applications of theological apologists’ philosophical arguments.” Logical fallacies are logical fallacies whether they come from atheists or theists. You don’t get a pass simply because we both reject claims of the existence of gods.

      The first paragraph of the Wikipedia article to which you so graciously directed me discusses “insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false.” This is exactly the nature of your claims regarding the confirmation of the supernatural. Regardless of how thoroughly you feel the claims have been investigated, those investigations are still insufficient to serve as proof of the contrarian position.

      The second paragraph, dealing with Russell’s Teapot, fairly clearly agrees with exactly what I have been saying this entire time. Burden of proof falls to the claimant. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable for a person to reject an unsupported claim. That paragraph does not vindicate you for making subsequent unsupported claims of your own, in the slightest.

      I do not start from the position that unicorns, sprites, leprechauns, gods, or god-egg-laying magical platypi exist. However, neither do I start from the position that these things necessarily do not exist. I make no claims about them, in either direction. When someone else makes the claim that unicorns, sprites, leprechauns, gods, or god-egg-laying magical platypi exist, I engage their arguments based on the definitions and evidence they provide. For my part, I have no idea what a “supernatural entity” is even supposed to be, therefore I could not possibly hope to disprove one’s existence without first being provided with definitions by someone who does believe in such things.

      In your introduction, you make the a priori assertion that gods do not exist, and baldly proclaim that “there is nothing that would convince me.” That is not skepticism. That is dogmatic belief.

      • /*/You don’t seem to have very good reading comprehension, sir. I am an atheist, a naturalist, a rationalist, and an evidentialist. I have not once assumed that “anything that can be imagined is true unless proven otherwise.” I am certainly not a “gullible believer,” nor am I proposing “bad applications of theological apologists’ philosophical arguments.” Logical fallacies are logical fallacies whether they come from atheists or theists. You don’t get a pass simply because we both reject claims of the existence of gods./*/

        1. the logical fallacy you decided to pounce on has already been shown inapplicable
        2. I ask for no pass, but rational exchange would be nice… and perhaps too much to ask

        /*/The first paragraph of the Wikipedia article to which you so graciously directed me discusses “insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false.” This is exactly the nature of your claims regarding the confirmation of the supernatural. Regardless of how thoroughly you feel the claims have been investigated, those investigations are still insufficient to serve as proof of the contrarian position./*/

        1. nothing has ever been so thoroughly investigated
        2. you appoint yourself arbiter or authority
        3. the “contrarian” position claims god(s) exist against all available evidence

        /*/The second paragraph, dealing with Russell’s Teapot, fairly clearly agrees with exactly what I have been saying this entire time. Burden of proof falls to the claimant. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable for a person to reject an unsupported claim. That paragraph does not vindicate you for making subsequent unsupported claims of your own, in the slightest./*/

        1. the claim is god(s) exist, against all available evidence
        2. “it is… reasonable… to reject an unsupported claim”; thanks for agreeing
        3. I make no unsupported claim; the blog outlines support

        /*/I do not start from the position that unicorns, sprites, leprechauns, gods, or god-egg-laying magical platypi exist. However, neither do I start from the position that these things necessarily do not exist. I make no claims about them, in either direction. When someone else makes the claim that unicorns, sprites, leprechauns, gods, or god-egg-laying magical platypi exist, I engage their arguments based on the definitions and evidence they provide. For my part, I have no idea what a “supernatural entity” is even supposed to be, therefore I could not possibly hope to disprove one’s existence without first being provided with definitions by someone who does believe in such things./*/

        1. you claim no position, but clearly try to shift burden of proof to nonexistence
        2. words have meanings, and definitions were provided
        3. for anything in question, free dictionaries exist and are available online

        /*/In your introduction, you make the a priori assertion that gods do not exist, and baldly proclaim that “there is nothing that would convince me.” That is not skepticism. That is dogmatic belief./*/

        ~ Yes, yes I did. As a rational person would do. Some, like you, may suggest we start from a neutral position, where the odds are even. Again, mentioned in the blog, Bayesian philosophy accounts for a priori. And every withered god, every unfulfilled prayer, every dead innocent, every error and inaccuracy in scripture, every divine claim proved fraudulent, every conflict with known history and science… and on and on… are evidence AGAINST god claims. Even the clumsiest evaluation will eventually conclude, if ALL the evidence is against a proposition and none for, the proposition is null and void, and not worthy of consideration.

        We don’t NEED smoking gun evidence to know. You KNOW if you have two apples and eat one, there will be one left. You don’t have to eat the apple to know this… you don’t need ANY apples to know this. No matter how many times you flip a two headed coin, you KNOW it won’t turn up tails. We don’t leap off cliffs expecting that this time gravity won’t work.

        No, we don’t start with even odds. “A priori” is not blank slate. It is to reason. We start with what we know. To posit anything else is preposterous and a deliberate waste of time and energy.

        And now that has been said, you can pat yourself on the back over being the first waste of time so annoying as to be blocked from further comment. Good show, good bye, and good riddance.

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