is evidence of absence. At least in some cases. Since this is a blog about Atheism, it will of course pretain to the issue of theism and the existence of God. To illustrate what I mean let me give you a few examples to defend my initial thesis.
The first example is the following claim: “Last Sunday I ate Döner Kebab for Dinner.”
The nature of this claim is of course trivial. Since today is Wednesday it would be expected, that I already cleaned up my dishes, so there is not much evidence to be expected. Since this claim however is trivial in nature, one can be reasonably justified in believing the assertion despite the lack of evidence. To the contrary most people would raise an eyebrow, when somebody demanded to see the verifiable evidence of it.
I think this would be a good example of a case where absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In this case my mere testimony, my mere assertion about this trivial claim warrants acceptance (except if I was known as a notorious liar, who regularly lies about what he ate for dinner but let’s leave that aside).
Quite another claim would be this: ” Last Sunday, I ran into Emma Watson by sheer accident and I invited her to my home, where we enjoyed eating a delicious lobster.”
Now the nature of this claim is quite different, isn’t it? You would have every right to call me crazy without any evidence at all, and even if I were to produce photos with me and Emma Watson eating lobster, you would still be rationally justified in rejecting my claim. What are the odds, that it did indeed happen and that I have no verification for it? They are very, very small indeed. Sure no one can disprove it, but at what point is it fair for someone to call Bullshit and say that it did not happen?
Now to the third claim: ” An omniscient, omnipotent personal being created the Universe and everything in it including us and about 2000 years ago he impregnated a Virgin who gave birth to the son of God/God incarnate who worked miracles his entire life, was later crucified and rose from the dead, three days after crucifixion.”
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say, that the nature of this claim beats the other by a landslide. If this is the case, then we should expect to find a ton of evidence, especially since this being wants to have a personal relationship with us and desires for us to believe this claim. A great amount of evidence is to be expected a priori.
We have spent at least close to 1000 years to establish the existence of deities. The first man to make a serious attempt to prove God’s existence, was made by Anselm of Canterbury with the ontological argument in 1078. We went on to the 5 ways of Thomas Aquinas, we all know of the moral argument and most recently of course we have the Kalam Cosmological argument and Intelligent Design arguments.
I think none of them are valid and I think ultimately all of them fall short to prove anything. You may disagree with me on that point but that’s irrelevant for this article.
If I’m right then we have zero evidence for an extraordinary claim for which we can reasonably expect a whole lot of evidence. If we don’t find evidence then what’s more likely: The extraordinary claim being true despite a lack of evidence where evidence is expected or the claim being false? Ultimately it’s for you to decide but to me, it’s a no brainer.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation