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Hey Religious Believers, Where's Your Evidence?

In the marketplace of ideas, only religion gets a free ride in an armored tank.

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But more to the point:

You can't just point to the existence of modern theology and say, "Look! Modern theology! It's new and improved! With 30 percent more reason than medieval theology! It says so right on the box!" You have to actually, you know, tell us what that theology says. And then you have to tell us why you think it's right.

If you can't, then that's not an argument. It doesn't support the claims of religion. It merely armors religion against the expectation that it support its claims.

Atheists are close-minded, closing themselves off to realms of experience beyond this mere mortal coil.

This one kind of ticks me off.

As a rule, atheists are the ones saying, "I don't see any good evidence for God...but show me some good evidence, and I'll change my mind." And believers are the ones saying, "Nothing you say could possibly convince me God is not real -- that's what it means to have faith." Believers are the ones with all these defense mechanisms I'm writing about; all these elaborate excuses for hanging onto a worldview that's not supported by one piece of good, solid evidence.

So how is it, exactly, that atheists are the close-minded ones?

Having an open mind doesn't mean thinking all possibilities are equally likely. It means being willing to consider new ideas if the evidence supports them. And it means being willing to give up old ideas if the evidence is against them.

So to any believer who thinks atheists are close-minded, I want to ask you this:

What would convince you that you were mistaken?

Most atheists can answer that question. We can tell you what we'd accept as evidence for God. Atheists are open to the possibility that there might be a supernatural world. In fact, most atheists once believed in that world. We just don't believe it anymore. We are provisionally rejecting it for lack of evidence. If we see better evidence, we'll change our minds.

What about you?

Are you open to the possibility that you might be mistaken? Are you open to the possibility that there is no God, and that the physical world is all there is? Is your God hypothesis falsifiable? Is there any possible evidence that would change your mind?

And if not -- then on what basis are you accusing atheists of being close-minded?

This "atheists are closed off to the spiritual world" trope is clearly not an argument. It merely reiterates the very claim being discussed -- the claim that there's a supernatural world to be open to -- without offering any evidence for it. It doesn't support the claims of religion. It merely armors religion against the expectation that it support its claims.

If They Had The Money, They'd Show It

Finally.

I would like to point out this:

If religious believers had good evidence for their beliefs, they'd be giving it.

When something even vaguely resembling solid evidence for religion appears, believers are all over it. The Shroud of Turin. The Virgin Mary on a cinnamon bun. That ridiculous prayer "study" supposedly showing that sick people who were prayed for did better... until the study was blasted into shrapnel, and the researchers were shown to be dishonest at best and frauds at worst, and subsequent studies that were actually done right showed absolutely no such thing.

More commonly, believers frequently trot out the old standby forms of religious "evidence": personal intuition (translated: our biased and flawed tendency to believe what we already believe or what we want to believe), and religious authorities and texts (translated: someone else's biased and flawed intuition, passed off as fact). Even in the era of evolution, even when we know in great detail how the complexity of life came into being, many believers -- including moderate, non-creationist believers -- often point to the apparent "design" of life as evidence of God. And any number of coincidences, twists of fate, supposedly miraculous medical cures, and other happy and unhappy accidents -- the kind we'd have every reason to expect in a physical, cause-and-effect world -- will be readily chalked up to spiritual forces or the hand of God.

 
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