On Twitter, there are pretty much two types of Theists: The Apologists who frequently debate on God’s existence and evolution and have ready made arguments which I think we’re all familiar with and then there are the ones who generally don’t challenge themselves too much and don’t tend to interact with Atheists normally. While I am always up to joining in on a good debate, I generally like the second group better, since genuine conversation is much better reached with them. With these people it’s not about throwing out WLC type apologetics, it’s about reaching mutual understanding for each other. It’s about explaining where you’re coming from and why you hold the positions you hold.
While they don’t really debate, they do bring up one argument that I have heard way too often. Normally I wouldn’t bother criticizing it, since it’s fallaciousness is so intuitively obvious but since it comes up quite often (to me anyways) it warrants a response.
The one argument that they usually make is this:
“You see, neither of us can see wind and neither of us can see love but we both believe in it. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It’s the same thing with God.”
Now it is true, that we all believe in wind and love despite not seeing it (or at least not directly seeing it).
The belief in these things however is completely justified despite the fact, that we can’t observe them. Why? Because we can observe the effects that wind has on the environment. We can see what wind does to trees. We can measure how heavy the wind is blowing and we can objectively confirm that wind exists.
It’s the same with love: We can’t directly observe it (at least not without scanning the brain) but we can see the effects of love. We can see when people show a great amount of affection towards one another, we can see the love a mother has for her child through her actions. And if we you’re not on board at this point than we still have a scientific explanation for love.
One might say that we also can observe the effects of God in our daily lives. You might think that God works in such fantastic ways in your life. He answers prayers, he build you up when you’re depressed he has healed your addiction or even your disease etc.
These incidences however are purely anecdotal in nature and not objectively measurable. You might have a very strong feeling that it was God, I might have the feeling that it was just luck or my own willpower.
Now it is true, that during a disease prayer may help your healing process. I don’t dispute that at all. This however is easily attributable to the placebo effect. If you’re fully convinced that it works, then it just might work.
I have yet to see any non-trivial measurement of God in the same way, that love and wind can be measured. All we have for God are anecdotes and subjective effects that may or may not be attributable to God or our biases or something else entirely.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation