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Evidence can't shake your faith if your faith excludes it as evidence - Comments

eggplantbren's Avatar Comment 1 by eggplantbren

The angel could appear and provide evidence that implies it could not be a hallucination. For example, by providing extremely specific testable information that nobody could have known.

Still, most of the possible confirmations of religion aren't going to happen - if all of astronomy was wrong and there really was a firmament, with heaven outside it, that would be pretty strong evidence. But it's false.

The world could work the way fundamentalists think it does, with magic etc, and only Christian prayers working, whereas others have a negative effect. But that's not what is observed either.

Sure, an ambiguous event that can be explained in two ways won't sway anyone who has a strong opinion on either side. But that doesn't mean that all conceivable events, ever, are ambiguous.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 17:57:00 UTC | #125726

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 2 by Szymanowski

This - as an argument against Dawkins's views - is hilarious. I don't even know where to begin. I'm trying to find refutations in Debate Points as it seems to be a variant on the transcendental argument, the science makes faith claims and the atheism is dogmatic claims, and the anything goes argument.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:06:00 UTC | #125733

FreeThink25's Avatar Comment 3 by FreeThink25 brain hurts.

This guy is a law professor??

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:13:00 UTC | #125736

maton100's Avatar Comment 4 by maton100

This is such bullshit. Sounds like Stanley is morphing into Lynne McTaggart via zero-point. I like Mr. Fish's selective partiality principle: it will appear when you are ready to believe it, etc. This is bogus conflation. Ooops, I just saw the flying spaghetti monster fly out of the ass of Lee Strobel...guess you'd have to believe it to see it Stanley.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:16:00 UTC | #125737

Goldy's Avatar Comment 5 by Goldy

So, if I get this right, there is no evidence as such, just an interpretation of what one sees. You can believe in gods by everything around you because they show what you want to see. If you don't want to see it, then there is no evidence at all.
Well, in a way, that makes sense. People believe in God. They pray for a sick person and lo and behold, a miracle cure is effected. Of course, when one digs deeper, one can also see the doctors at work and drugs being taken, but we don't need to see that - prayer worked! Now, should the same individual become ill again with the same disease and opted for the "prayer only" cure (it worked before, remember) - no doctors, no medicine, just him, Jesus and a few prayer friends and we see that he dies, does this mean it can be a sign that Jesus had other plans for him or that medicine saved him the first time?
I wonder...

In other words, evidence must always be interpreted within the context of interpretive assumptions that necessarily determine what that evidence is understood to signify, and which by their nature are themselves matters of faith. Thus the only way someone like Dawkins will ever see any evidence for the existence of God will be if he loses his faith that he never will.

In other words, make things up mentally to fit what you want to see, no matter how different it is to reality. The only way Dawkins will ever see God is to become irrational.
How does this explain all the other ex-religionists, all those that saw it was alla sham, all something wrong. How does that explain European secualrism?
Am I missing something?

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:18:00 UTC | #125738

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 6 by Cartomancer

Literary and legal theorist? I smell the cloacal whiff of postmodernist claptrap here...

I do wonder, though, how this man thinks he can catch Richard out with the baseless assumption that he is impervious to any contrary evidence? It is a nasty thing to do, tarring Richard Dawkins with the same brush as Aurelius Augustinus - the latter claimed quite openly that he would interpret his evidence according to his preconcieved notions, the former claims just as openly that he will not. The only way this could be used to accuse Richard of hypocrisy is if he actually had dismissed something of the magnitude of a direct celestial visitation as hallucination. He's pointed out that hallucinations are commonplace, sure, but has he explicitly said they do account for everything and there is absolutely no empirical evidence which would change his mind? Not to my knowledge he hasn't.

Surely this man is not saying that there are no objective empirical standards of evidence at all is he...?

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:20:00 UTC | #125740

Andrew Stich's Avatar Comment 7 by Andrew Stich

I can't think of anything eloquent or detailed to say. So rife with logical fallacies that it is hard to distinguish one from its neighbor, so many statements or implied statements that are completely incorrect and untrue... This is truly, truly an amazing article. Really, it makes me feel a sense of awe. I'm not at all being sarcastic. As a scientific-minded person, I believe that almost no suggestion should be dismissed outright without a thorough breakdown, but... this is really an exceptional piece of work. Maybe I'll come back to it later.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:20:00 UTC | #125741

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 8 by Diacanu


I smell the cloacal whiff of postmodernist claptrap here...

D'oh! Totally stole that right out of my head!!

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:24:00 UTC | #125743

Double Bass Atheist's Avatar Comment 9 by Double Bass Atheist

St. Augustine's advice when confronting something that appears to contradict Christian belief: the phenomenon should be subjected "to diligent scrutiny until an interpretation contributing to the reign of charity is produced."

The real irony here is that if these people would only apply this type of thinking to their own religion, they too would be atheists!

I enjoyed reading this article with the exception of the fact the author repeatedly makes reference to the "atheist beliefs" or "belief in atheism." This is one of those things I find irritating. Why is this concept so hard for people to understand? Atheism is NOT a belief. In the absence of evidence for god(s), it is merely the default position.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:25:00 UTC | #125744

GodlessHeathen's Avatar Comment 10 by GodlessHeathen

Another journalist caught masturbating in public.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:29:00 UTC | #125746

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 11 by Cartomancer

Incidentally, I am amused that many atheists still call those individuals whom the catholic church has beatified by their title "Saint", when there really is no good reason for still doing so apart from the fact it is culturally ingrained. I've even caught staunch protestants doing it too, when they of all people have a good reason not to buy into the church dogmas.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:34:00 UTC | #125747

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 12 by Diacanu

If an angel appeared to me, I'd try to capture him.

If I could, then he's a shoddy fucking angel.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:35:00 UTC | #125748

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 13 by Diacanu


I don't indulge the "saint", thing, actually.

When you look at the requirement for sainthood, it's pretty much being a fanatical wackaloon.

So, for regular religious nut, I use "fanatic", and for sainted fanatic, I use "extra-crispy fanatic".

Or "buffalo spice fanatic", whatever suits my mood at the moment.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:38:00 UTC | #125751

Janus's Avatar Comment 14 by Janus

Does this idiot really think that if we lived in a world where, say, Christian prayers to heal amputees actually worked, there would still be more than a handful of non-Christians?

Of course, if we lived in such a world, it could still be argued that even though there's good evidence that there is a very powerful being who cares about what Christians ask of Him, it doesn't follow that this being designed the universe, but if He had, it would have been extremely easy to provide conclusive evidence for His existence. All He would have had to do is put a message in the universe that only its designer could have put there.

For example, a message in binary code (with a translating key) could have been encoded in the cosmic microwave background radiation that resulted from the Big Bang. Or to give another example, the Judeo-Christian God could have designed the inter-molecular forces in such a way that if you put salt in a certain solution, it would self-assemble into the the text of the Bible written in all the human languages that have ever existed and will ever exist. The Bible itself would contain the instructions for making the solution. Then there would be no need for any of these silly debates. Anyone who doubted the existence of Yahweh could perform the experiment himself and see the evidence for himself. The truth of Christianity would be proven beyond all reasonable doubt, and only insane wackos would deny it.

That there is no such undeniable evidence for the existence of a God can only mean three things: He doesn't want to provide this evidence (in which case he's not benevolent), he's not able to provide this evidence (in which case he's far from omnipotent), or there is no God.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:41:00 UTC | #125752

chuckg's Avatar Comment 15 by chuckg

His arguments are like the parapsychologist who claims that scientific observation somehow spoils the psychic energy, thus always ruining the attempts to verify the claims. I just heard that James Randi has removed this 1 million dollar challenge, having never had anyone close to winning it in the many years his challenge has been up.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:41:00 UTC | #125753

Rational Thinking's Avatar Comment 16 by Rational Thinking

Interesting piece - of course, the author doesn't realise that he is already operating under the influence of an assumption - an unquestioned assumption. What he also fails to realise is that Professor Dawkins is not operating under the same assumption. He questioned it. That's all he wants anyone to do.

Evidence, by the way, someone spell this out for me: anecdotal evidence does not make data. What does?

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:46:00 UTC | #125754

Quine's Avatar Comment 17 by Quine

A giant pile of nits; if I started picking these off, when would I ever stop?

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:48:00 UTC | #125755

Badger3k's Avatar Comment 18 by Badger3k

I knew that name was connected to the Discovery Institute somehow - here's a post I found connected to previous writing on the subject: There are more. Campos is one of those right-wing/fundie-style hacks. I do want to ask him if we should teach the controversy regarding mythical origins of savior stories of popular religions (in religion courses, of course).

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:50:00 UTC | #125756

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 19 by Diacanu


Ah, another bullshitter for Jesus.

Jeez, it's like these hacks spew out of an assembly line.

And it's all the same bullshit.

(Gym teacher from Simpsons)
Bombardment!! Bombardment!! Bombardment!!

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 18:53:00 UTC | #125758

markg's Avatar Comment 20 by markg


Your link doesn't work.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:00:00 UTC | #125760

troyreynolds86's Avatar Comment 21 by troyreynolds86

Belief in Atheism being so ingrained as to blind the Atheist to any evidence. Horsecrap. We are only asking for proof that isn't open to interpretations, the same evidence we expect from all other areas. Here's one that should be easy for a being of infinite insight. How about the pitch locations and speeds (to the mile per hour)of every pitch for every game of the 2008 Red Sox before the season begins. It would be nearly impossible, if not impossible, for such a thing to be faked, so not open to interpretation. Provide me with that level of proof and my belief will be given freely.

I would also need tickets to all of the games so that I could confirm the prophetic proclamations of my guiding angel. Third base line, above the dugout would be nice. And airfare for road trips. And hotel vouchers. I guess my soul is for sale.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:01:00 UTC | #125762

adonais's Avatar Comment 22 by adonais

"No believer will find his faith shaken by evidence that is evidence only in the light of assumptions he does not share and considers flatly wrong."

In other words, "whatever evidence you might present I can adopt an assumption (ad hoc) that allows me to disregard your evidence." What infantile drivel. Do these fruitcakes grow on trees or what.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:07:00 UTC | #125763

SPS's Avatar Comment 24 by SPS

I saw this article a few days ago on and another site. I'll just post what I posted at scrippsnews:
Next time you go to the pharmacist for a prescription ask for something he/she 'has faith' will work. See how far you get in life when you live thinking what you believe is just as good as evidence and real knowledge. Oh, and say 'hi' to Santa Claus for me.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:11:00 UTC | #125765

Rational Thinking's Avatar Comment 23 by Rational Thinking

Predictions wouldn't do it - all you'd have to do is rationalise them afterwards. Mass hysteria or the like.

It's an interesting question.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:11:00 UTC | #125764

Rational Thinking's Avatar Comment 25 by Rational Thinking

I entirely agree with you. And possibly it's a hypothetical question. I just find it intriguing.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:14:00 UTC | #125766

markg's Avatar Comment 26 by markg


Thanks for correcting that. Will have to look at it tomorrow as it's late here.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:16:00 UTC | #125767

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 27 by Agrajag

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:22:00 UTC | #125769

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 28 by Frankus1122

"No believer will find his faith shaken by evidence that is evidence only in the light of assumptions he does not share and considers flatly wrong."

I think this is true.
But he needs to turn the lens on himself.

if one draws up a list of things that Dawkins considers evidence for the existence of God, and another list of things Dawkins considers evidence for atheism, one list has nothing on it and the other list has everything else.

This is not true.
Some here have already provided what would be considered evidence for god's existence.

As Steve Zara pointed out elsewhere:

all we are after is a consistent standard of evidence

Any evidence for god only works if you already believe god exists. Then any 'evidence' proves god's existence. (I saw a frozen waterfall split in three and the reality of the Trinity was revealed to me).

I am not sure if the faithful do not inhabit a different world. No, I'm sure they do. But it is a smaller world than the real one. It is their bubble world within the larger reality. Everything makes sense inside the bubble.

Has anyone got a pin?

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:24:00 UTC | #125771

Fire1974's Avatar Comment 30 by Fire1974

When confronted by the faithful, I like to say that I'll believe in [insert your favorite dogma] for any reason at all. As long as I actually think it's true. Even if I can't verify that belief to anyone else. But as it stands now, I think that [insert your favorite dogma] sounds like a pile of mind suppressing, unconvincing horse-shit.

If there come a day when I have some 'road to Damascus' moment that actually convinces me to believe in [insert your favorite dogma] there I'll be, believing it. But what I sure-as-hell won't do is insist that other people give me the slightest bit of credibility for my unverifiable convictions.

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:29:00 UTC | #125774

Rational Thinking's Avatar Comment 29 by Rational Thinking

Troy - "Belief in Atheism" - just run that by me again :-)

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 19:29:00 UTC | #125773