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The "Absence of Evidence..." Dodge - Comments

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 1 by Alan4discussion

Yeh! I mean these atheists point to the lack of evidence for Lunar Martians, Tooth Fairies, Leprechauns, & Magic Wands and then claim that MY god can be grouped with these!!! Ridiculous! Fancy trying to use thinking like that to claim the non-existence of MY god because of a lack of material evidence! - Peace be upon his spiritual noodly appendages!

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 20:57:18 UTC | #931013

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 2 by Cartomancer

This can be taken further, however.

The absence of any evidence for a phenomenon IS evidence for the absence of the phenomenon in cases where we would very much EXPECT there to be evidence for said phenomenon. It may not be absolute disproof of the phenomenon, but absolute disproof is really only the preserve of pure mathematicians and logicians anyway. For pretty much all existence claims in everyday parlance, historical analysis, and most of science it is easily enough to dismiss claims about a phenomenon.

Would we take someone seriously who claims to have three arms if we had never been shown the third one? Obviously not. And not only if they're in front of us with their shirt off so we can see them. Even if we only saw them fully clothed, where a putative third arm could quite easily be concealed under their jumper, we wouldn't believe them. Even if the claim was only made in an email and we'd never even seen them we wouldn't believe them.

Would we take an historian seriously if he claimed that William the Conqueror had a battallion of wizards with him at Hastings, whose fiery blasts and summoned lightning bolts were what really defeated the forces of King Harold? The distinct lack of pointy hats and staffs with knobs on the end in the archaeology of the battle site, or arcane robed figures in the Bayeux tapestry, or even a single mention of a jobbing sorcerer for hire in any of the contemporary chronicles is fairly convincing evidence that it wasn't so.

Admittedly we would be a lot less skeptical if the claim was of a third nipple or a small force of mercenaries from the Low Countries that have otherwise escaped notice in the literature, but that's kind of the point. The existence of a tyrannical magic superbeing whose ministrations suspended the laws of physics in impossible ways is very much the former kind of claim.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 21:13:38 UTC | #931016

JHJEFFERY's Avatar Comment 3 by JHJEFFERY

Comment 2 by Cartomancer

This can be taken further, however.

The absence of any evidence for a phenomenon IS evidence for the absence of the phenomenon in cases where we would very much EXPECT there to be evidence for said phenomenon

+1

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 21:39:23 UTC | #931027

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 4 by Andrew B.

Comment 2 by Cartomancer :

This can be taken further, however.

The absence of any evidence for a phenomenon IS evidence for the absence of the phenomenon in cases where we would very much EXPECT there to be evidence for said phenomenon.

Yes, exactly what I came here to say.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 22:00:10 UTC | #931038

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 5 by VrijVlinder

The lack of evidence is enough for me. If they come up with some evidence I would be willing to check it out. However, had this same conversation with several people over time...:

"But don't you think there is something else?"

Yes there is, everything else other than that which is imaginary.

"How can you say that?"

How could I not, it is reality.

"But what if there is something and you refuse to acknowledge it exists? Then you will not find it from blindness not because it is not there but because you are unwilling to speculate on the possibility. God hears only those who listen. Much of what we thought about the world was speculation , then it was proven."

The unscientific speculation has been proven wrong by science. Look I see where you are going with this and it won't work. Einstein's theories were considered speculative for his time yes. But the whole basis for the study, was substantive . Something was already perceived to exists by telescopic observations. The way the Universe works and our place in it. Those are real not imagined.

"Don't you wonder why? Why us? "

Yes but not in the theistic way. I have curiosity but wives tales will not suffice. There is always a logical explanation to any question that exists, the imaginary is a crutch to keep you from walking on your own two legs.

"Aren't you afraid to be alone ? With God you are never alone, he watches over us."

Everyone is afraid of something, we must be brave. We are individuals so alone is a state of mind. I like my privacy. My dogs watch over me.

"So that's it? really? "

Ok then bye bye now......

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 22:32:27 UTC | #931044

Katy Cordeth's Avatar Comment 6 by Katy Cordeth

Comment 5 by VrijVlinder

....Yes but not in the theistic way. I have curiosity but wives tales will not suffice. There is always a logical explanation to any question that exists, the imaginary is a crutch to keep you from walking on your own two legs....

If all else fails, Vrij, just hit them with this masterful bit of understatement from one Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde: "The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 23:12:33 UTC | #931054

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 7 by Starcrash

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is merely a call to logic that states that you can't make a negative argument out of disproving a positive one. For instance, nobody has yet proven that there is no God. You can only prove that the evidence is still lacking or absent, which means that skepticism is still the logical position to take, but it doesn't mean that you've proven that God does not exist.

I think you've read too much into this argument when you've heard it by assuming that the person means it as positive evidence for God ("It seems your standards of proof are extremely low, so low as to already be met.") when in reality it is used to discredit your claim that God has been disproven by absence of evidence (here I'm assuming that it has been applied correctly). Again, skepticism is the right position to take in the face of no evidence... that means not assuming that God has been proven or disproven, but treating the God Hypothesis are nothing more than that... just an unsupported hypothesis.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 23:34:30 UTC | #931061

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 8 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 23:40:02 UTC | #931063

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 9 by ZenDruid

@ Starcrash

I thought that hypotheses without evidence are nominally considered to be speculations.

Anyway, fond as I am of aphorisms, I find this one odious. It would please me to be armed with counter-aphorisms for the occasion, something like, "Absence of evidence is the null hypothesis."

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 00:02:42 UTC | #931066

road_runner321's Avatar Comment 10 by road_runner321

A good rejoinder would be the Carl Sagan stand-bye, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." And if the claims you are making have no evidence where one should expect, it may not completely falsify your claim, but its probability has certainly been affected.

Also, since the supernatural is, by definition, not the natural world, and would "naturally" have no evidence to support it, using "absence of evidence..." would also make no sense, because it uses a characteristic of an idea to support the same idea. The supernatural has no evidence, which should not be seen as evidence of it being false. A nice bit of circular reasoning.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 00:27:50 UTC | #931072

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 11 by VrijVlinder

There is more evidence that there is no godpeople are unwilling to see.

, example Moses asked the sea to be parted so his people could escape Egypt.

It was not god who parted the Red sea(it was not the Red sea at all), it was low tide at the Zuez canal. Those who argued it was the red sea he parted, wrong, that would have made them 40 extra years lost in Arabia. If you believe thats how it happened. The Knack to mix historical accounts with folklore is amazing. That is what makes people speculate one way or another.

There is no sign or remnants of what people claim to be Sodom the example of sin. No salt statues that look like people. Unless of course you try to find some similarity like in the clouds you can see familiar shapes. It was a made up town. It was all made up. Hardly anyone could read!! who would be the wiser?

Unproven miracles, deaths but no resurrection, promise of enlightenment, people killing each other, prophesies unfulfilled, exaggerated claims, unsubstantiated claims, poverty,starvation, Islam..... On and on and on. Every promise broken. Every plea unheard and ignored . This has to count as proof of something.

I would be more inclined to believe in a god if it had been responsible for writing the book of knowledge . If their arguments were that god clearly states what relativity is and further explain as in science books. For the purpose of understanding. Not to make it more confusing by adding what is not there.

The ancient books take on how things work is a fable. No scientific value at all.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 00:57:07 UTC | #931076

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

The problem with such generic statements is that not all claims carry equal weight in the first place. Some things are, by the very nature of scientific evidence already accumulated, more likely than others. Thus a claim that extraterrestrial civilisations may exist, even in the absence of any evidence, is a more credible claim than a claim that unicorns may exist, which also has no evidence.

So the real flaw in the 'absence of evidence.....' argument is one of trying to use the likelihood of a few un-evidenced but credible things in such a generic manner, and completely overlooking the factor of specific probability.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 01:21:21 UTC | #931086

raytoman's Avatar Comment 13 by raytoman

I can make people believe that they should devote most of their time, energy and wealth to worshipping gods, paying every cent they can to his clergy here on earth to show devoutness, trying hard to always obey every one of their changing laws and interpretations of these to remain staunch, making life difficult, unpleasant or end for those who don't believe in my(our) god(s) to show my strength of belief and of course accepting the suffering this causes myself and my family in this holy cause.

I am religion, invented tens of thousands of years ago (anything up to 150,000 years ago) and refined ever since into over 9000 versions, all right with the other 8999 all wrong.

I am the most successful power and control mechanism ever invented and other memes pale into insignificance.

I don't need proof, only parents and society to ensure their children are indoctrinated. Once smitten they cannot escape.

I am getting richer and more powerful every day. I can even have fun by making people perform any atrocity and suffer any indignity and pain to show their loyalty. I can be used by anyone who desires power and control to do the same. My original Shamen inverters are being put to shame as my latest followers invent ever more ways to manipulate the ignorant, illiterate and downtrodded.

I am not even concerned with the atheist movement. Firstly there isn't one and anyway, they cannot prove that I am not right.

Ain't life grand. Wonder what I'll do for a laugh today? I know, that Peruvian Catholic religious leader who is charged with being a paedophile - whilst the Pope is there, I'll have him made a saint. He's already on the path, then I'll get the Presidents of Mexico and Cuba to pay homage to him so he can go home happy to his paedophile nest.

Religion has no morals. Those are for idiots who believe that all people are brothers and even cousins to the other apes. No wonder I can literally get away with murder, genocide, torture, fraud,...Isn't nonsense great?

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 01:44:51 UTC | #931092

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 14 by ZenDruid

Raytoman,

'downtrodden'. Otherwise, brilliant!

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 01:47:34 UTC | #931093

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 15 by VrijVlinder

@Schrodinger's Cat: So the real flaw in the 'absence of evidence.....' argument is one of trying to use the likelihood of a few un-evidenced but credible things in such a generic manner, and completely overlooking the factor of specific probability.

If you were to factor in specific probability of the existence of god, what do you personally expect the result to be?

We can apply that factor because we can calculate what the reaction will be when we know what will Cause it. Simple observation over a period of time should yield some result. What are the probabilities if any that in all the periods of human observation no proof of existence has manifested yet. Except in mythologies?

How long do we have to wait or is it just in the imagination of someone with lack of imagination?

The concept of god as a metaphor can exist . But as real evidence, a concept is not enough. If everyone can agree that there is no real god but that the concept of god is real and useful and the teachings are good and positive (almost seems as if that is where it is heading),that would be good, but the teachings are mostly biased sexist full of hatred. One can't even agree to that compromise.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 01:52:33 UTC | #931095

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 16 by VrijVlinder

@raytoman: Are you describing yourself or Islam , or Hamas ?

(anything up to 150,000 years ago) ????? Why stop there, humans have been around longer, just say when the universe was formed, saves you from falsehoods.

Archaic_Homo_sapiens

I am the most successful power and control mechanism ever invented and other memes pale into insignificance.

How come on your other posts about the philistines it appears as though you have trouble with english yet here we see you have improved miraculously if I might add. Are you pretending to be crazy so we don't ask you for links to your Info source anymore? Indolence maybe? Did you copy that off the book or google?

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 02:25:27 UTC | #931097

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 17 by ZenDruid

I am the dirt beneath your rollers,
I am your secret smut
And your lost metal money...

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 02:45:20 UTC | #931099

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 18 by susanlatimer

Comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

So the real flaw in the 'absence of evidence.....' argument is one of trying to use the likelihood of a few un-evidenced but credible things in such a generic manner, and completely overlooking the factor of specific probability.

I agree completely S. Cat if I'm reading you right. I think Cartomancer put it best, though.

The absence of any evidence for a phenomenon IS evidence for the absence of the phenomenon in cases where we would very much EXPECT there to be evidence for said phenomenon.

That's the difference between unicorns and extraterrestrial civilizations. We've already turned over the rocks under which we should have found unicorns.

The "absence of evidence" approach is legitimate and there is nothing generic about it. It can't be applied to most of the universe as most of the rocks lie there. It seems unreasonable given what is known about physics and biology, not to consider the possibility of extraterrestrial civilizations as potentially likely. We haven't found unicorns where we should expect to find them, here on earth where they were claimed to exist.

And gods of any sort to the extent that they're defined (I implore atheists to stop using the word "God" without qualifying it; it's a fundamental claim we shouldn't so willingly concede), are nowhere to be found. There are as many gods interacting with our species as there are unicorns.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 03:17:07 UTC | #931102

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 19 by susanlatimer

From the OP:

You change the rules, using evidence when you think it supports your claim, while saying that a lack of evidence also supports your claim, and using gaps in opposing evidence to hide your weaknesses. This smacks of a lack of falsifiability. There is no argument I could make that would prove you wrong, because there is no circumstance under which you will concede that you are wrong.

You've really nailed every conversation I've ever had with a theist who claims to be arguing on "reasonable" grounds. They use evidence to imply a god (usually Yahweh or Allah) and as soon as that argument fails to be supported by evidence, they begin to question the validity of evidence and/or reason. Suddenly, (for instance) an "immaterial mind" can't be disproven (although, it's incoherent in terms of evidence and reason); therefore, it's possible.

Which is it? Evidence and reason? Or something better than that? In which case, please demonstrate the superiority of your preferred method.

It's dishonest. And desperate. It always ends the conversation because try as I do to wrap my brain around it, there doesn't seem to be anything to wrap it around. And then they tell me, I'm narrow-minded.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 03:31:06 UTC | #931104

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 20 by ColdThinker

How about calling the opponent a murderer? Or publically declare his/her spouse cheats? Or their children sell drugs? The absence of evidence is no evidence of their innocence.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 05:32:15 UTC | #931112

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 21 by VrijVlinder

@ZenDruid: Long live Zappa!!

Look why complicate matters. There is no evidence of the existence of gods until we are proven wrong , safe to say never, so let them keep trying . They my not know yellow snow is where all the Huskies go, then and eat it thinking it's lemon ice :).

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 05:39:15 UTC | #931113

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 22 by susanlatimer

Comment 21 by VrijVinder

@ZenDruid: Long live Zappa!!

Here's some Frank Zappa that's on-topic.

Who You Jivin' With that Cosmik Debris?

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 06:03:00 UTC | #931114

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 23 by VrijVlinder

Susan !!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥cosmic debris Thank you so much for that I had not listened to it for a while. The man was brilliant.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 06:13:52 UTC | #931115

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 24 by susanlatimer

Vrij

The man was brilliant.

And a great American.

(From the point of view of this Canadian.) :-)

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 06:19:36 UTC | #931116

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 25 by Alan4discussion

Comment 10 by road_runner321

A good rejoinder would be the Carl Sagan stand-bye, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." And if the claims you are making have no evidence where one should expect, it may not completely falsify your claim, but its probability has certainly been affected.

Also, since the supernatural is, by definition, not the natural world, and would "naturally" have no evidence to support it, using "absence of evidence..." would also make no sense, because it uses a characteristic of an idea to support the same idea.

The "supernatural has no credible definition" other than suggesting no "material natural existence". If it has influence on nature of affects the natural in any detectable way it is "natural" - even if undiscovered.

The supernatural has no evidence, which should not be seen as evidence of it being false. A nice bit of circular reasoning.

Even drawn circles have starting points! " Supernatural" lacks one. It is defined as "outside the natural reality". If it has any effect in the material world it is "natural". If it doesn't, it is not part of this material reality and probably does not exist.

Theists often claim that the "supernatural" cannot be defined out of existence. I would counter that they would have to define a credible "existence" for it, before any such "counter" was required.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 09:24:14 UTC | #931131

David-in-Toronto's Avatar Comment 26 by David-in-Toronto

Comment 2 by Cartomancer :

The absence of any evidence for a phenomenon IS evidence for the absence of the phenomenon in cases where we would very much EXPECT there to be evidence for said phenomenon. It may not be absolute disproof of the phenomenon, but absolute disproof is really only the preserve of pure mathematicians and logicians anyway.

Indeed. The adage is perhaps useful in limited contexts. On a technicality, it seems to protect the deist god (the one who bears an uncanny resemblance to no god) from logical disproof. But this is (or should be) small comfort to the theists – whose object of worship has very specific attributes.

Against the claim that a polar bear lives in my basement, absence of any evidence to that effect is evidence of absence. Likewise, the non-existence of divine intercession legitimately represents negative evidence for the Biblical god.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 15:08:12 UTC | #931173

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 27 by The Jersey Devil

And gods of any sort to the extent that they're defined (I implore atheists to stop using the word "God" without qualifying it; it's a fundamental claim we shouldn't so willingly concede)

Excellent point. I admit I use the word 'God' as you describe and hereby resolve to change my evil ways.

In my defense I'll plead 'force of habit'. It's a left over from my days of believing that all people had a partial understanding of God (oops, I did it again), that we were all really talking about the same entity and that any inconsistencies in description was do to the fallibilty of each and every person to understand an infinite being.

Pfft! What a load of bunk. It's both embarrassing and amusing to me that I believed exactly that when I was a 12-step true believer.

In anycase, it's either 'gods' or a qualifier like Abrahamic God for me from now on.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 16:15:31 UTC | #931180

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 28 by VrijVlinder

The problem that will always be faced when the argument arises is that the blind faith belief in gods is the only answer to every question no matter how logical our explanation be. Even if a million scientists agreed. And if they actually found proof of no such existence, believers would deny it just as well.

It is said, and truly, God has no beginning and no end. He is Eternal. If He had no beginning, what was there before Him? God. What was before God? God. One can never reach beyond "no beginning." The answer is always God.

What will there be after billions of years? God. So this means actually in eternity there is no time; nothing has ever happened or will happen.

You all were there, are today, and will be in billions of years. Why do you not remember what happened billions of years ago? Because nothing happened. Only God is. Meher Baba

THE TURNING OF THE KEY, pp. 351-352, Bill Le Page Copyright 1993 AMBPPCT

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 20:14:22 UTC | #931220

raytoman's Avatar Comment 29 by raytoman

Comment 16 by VrijVlinder

@raytoman: Are you describing yourself or Islam , or Hamas ?

(anything up to 150,000 years ago) ????? Why stop there, humans have been around longer, just say >when the universe was formed, saves you from falsehoods.

Find a religious site or at least research the nonsense.

Even Neandrathals had religion with death rites including burial with chattels and decoration. That was even before we evolved.

I know you believe the universe was formed, the first man was made from clay and the first woman from one of his ribs (or other such shite) and only about 6000 years ago. Must have been a shock to the Sumerians, Indians and Chinese who had been around for thousands of years- or obviously just more shite.

Read some non fiction, and stop defending/condoning genocide.

Only religion makes humans capable of doing that.

Don't bother trying to wise up, there are some so unwise they will not learn.

Thu, 29 Mar 2012 21:22:31 UTC | #931234

VrijVlinder's Avatar Comment 30 by VrijVlinder

@Comment 29 by raytoman

No one here has stated they condone genocide , That is completely false it is libel to continue to say such things.

You make no sense at all. Nothing but contradictions and makes me think you just enjoy annoying people I will desist from commenting after you or responding to your nonsense. Not interested .

Fri, 30 Mar 2012 00:25:11 UTC | #931263