Hey Religious Believers, Where's Your Evidence?
Continued from previous page
With every other kind of claim, we accept a standard of reasonable plausibility. With every other kind of hypothesis, we accept that if there's no good evidence supporting it, and there's a fair amount of evidence contradicting it, and it's shot through with logical flaws and internal inconsistencies, and similar claims have never turned out to be right.... then unless that situation changes, those are good enough reasons to reject it.
Only religion gets the "If you can't disprove it with 100 percent certainty, it's reasonable to believe it" standard.
When asked, "What evidence do you have that this is true?" how is it reasonable for believers to reply, "You can't absolutely prove that it isn't"? How is that even an argument? How does it support the claims of religion? How does it do anything but armor religion against the expectation that it support its claims?
It's disrespectful and intolerant to tell people their religious beliefs are wrong.
And we have more special pleading.
In a reasonably free, reasonably democratic society, we don't call it intolerant to criticize ideas. We criticize ideas all the time. Political ideas. Artistic ideas. Scientific ideas. Ideas about relationships, money, music, food, philosophy, sports, cute cats. If we think other people have a mistaken idea about the world, we think it's reasonable and fair, admirable even, to try to persuade them out of it. We might think it's bad manners at the dinner table, but in public forums, in the marketplace of ideas, we think it's just ducky.
Only religion gets a free ride.
In the marketplace of ideas, only religion gets a free ride in an armored tank. Only religion gets to sell its wares behind a curtain. Only religion gets to make promises about its wares that it never, ever has to keep. And when people hand out flyers in the marketplace saying, "These guys are selling hot air, the Emperor has no clothes, here's all the reasons why our wares are better," only with religion do people scowl disapprovingly at the disrespectful, bigoted intolerance.
Religion is a hypothesis about the world. It is entirely reasonable to treat it like any other hypothesis... and to point out the ways that it's logically flawed, inconsistent with itself, and entirely unsupported by any good evidence.
"You have no right to make your case" is an argument people make when they don't have a case themselves. It's not even an argument. It's the deflection of an argument. It doesn't support the claims of religion. It merely armors religion against the expectation that it support its claims.
There are wonderful advanced modern theological arguments for God. I just can't tell you what they are.
Many believers accuse atheists of arguing against the most simplistic, most outdated forms of belief; of ignoring the wonderful world of modern theology and its advanced understanding of God.
And yet, they do this without ever actually explaining what that advanced understanding is , or what the arguments and apologetics and evidence for it are. The promise of a truly good modern argument for God is dangled in front of us like a carrot in front of a donkey.
I've actually read a fair amount of modern theology. I'm not a theology scholar, but I got a B.A. in religion, and I've read a fair amount since then.
And I am repeatedly struck by how weak and sloppy modern theology is. It either redefines God out of existence, defining him so abstractly he might as well not exist, or it amounts to one of the many excuses listed here, excuses for why this powerful being with a pervasive effect on the world somehow has no solid evidence of his existence. (Or else it's the same old bad arguments we've seen for hundreds of years -- First Cause, the Argument from Design, Pascal's Freaking Wager -- dressed up in po-mo academia-speak.)