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Evidence for the existence of God (Part 3)

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Why the 'You cannot prove God does not exist' argument fails

Post by Bellatori on Fri Oct 11, 2013 9:56 am

First topic message reminder :

The problem with discussions between theists and atheists is that eventually it comes down to the argument of not being able to prove a negative false. As a statistician, in my working life, I have often come across this as a problem. It really ends up as a lack of understanding of the concept of an hypothesis and the nature of the contrary position, the null hypothesis.
 
Consider the following example
 
Hypothesis 1 - There are fairies at the bottom of my garden. (My hypothesis or H1 for short)
 
In stating this I automatically generate a contrary (null) hypothesis which would be
 
Hypothesis 0 - There are no fairies at the bottom of my garden. (The null hypothesis or H0 for short)
 
The null hypothesis is entirely a consequence of stating the first hypothesis. If H1 is not true then we would automatically assume that H0 was true.
 
At this point (courtesy of the Cottingley Fairies and Arthur Conan Doyle) I produce a set of photographs. On scientific scrutiny these are held to be jolly fine photographs and completely fake. At this point I retreat into my bedroom to sulk and it is held that H1 fails on the basis of no evidence and therefore we accept the null hypothesis viz. there are no fairies at the bottom of my garden. Postulating that at some time in the future someone may come up with evidence that confirms H1 in no way changes the argument. We are dealing with NOW and as of NOW there is no evidence and the hypothesis fails. We accept H0. Wish fulfillment does not give you a reason to accept H1 in spite of the lack of evidence.
 
So now lets look at the existence of God argument.
 
H1 - God exists (the theist position)
which then automatically generates a contrary position
H0 - God does not exist (the atheist position)
 
In passing it is worth noting that the atheist position is a default one. It does NOT require belief. It is simply what is left when the H1 proposition fails, however this is for another time.
 
Now atheists would claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God and therefore H1 fails. (In passing one might wonder why, if there is evidence for god, that the religion that has that evidence has not therefore swallowed up all the others who clearly would be lacking in this respect. Is simply a multiplicity of religions an argument for the non-existence of God I wonder?)
 
At this point many theists go for the 'You cannot prove god does not exist' argument. This is the hypotheses above the other way around.
 
H1 - God does not exist (the atheist position)
and
H0 - God exists (the theist position)
 
The atheists just shrug and the theists jump up and down with glee saying the null hypothesis has it, God exists. The problem is that when you consider what the null hypothesis is, you have to ask one crucial question. Is the null hypothesis compatible with a stated position of no evidence.
 
Consider
H1 - Unicorns exist
and hence
H0 - Unicorn do not exist
 
Is a non-existent unicorn compatible with no evidence for the existence of unicorns? Yes it is. Now ask yourself the question if the hypotheses are reversed. Is an existing unicorn compatible with no evidence? No it isn't. Where are the hoof prints and the unicorn poop!!
 
So here we reach the crux. Is a null hypothesis of H0 - God exists compatible with no evidence for God existing. Clearly, as with the unicorn, the answer is no.
 
Atheists do not have to prove God does not exist. It is a meaningless quest because, without evidence, there is no reason or logic in believing that god does exist.

Bellatori
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Re: Evidence for the existence of God (Part 3)

Post by Jsmythe on Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:53 pm

Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD wrote:

Slight shifting of the goal posts here I'm afraid. You claimed the written 'biblical' accounts of Jesus were evidence he existed. Snowy countered that the Harry Potter books would be evidence for his existence by that logic. You countered with the claim that Harry Potter would not be remembered in a comparable time period as the bible. A bit of a straw man polemic as it ignored the point IMHO, but I pointed out that if it were remembered would that make HP's existence more likely to be true? You then shifted the goal posts with your claim about types of evidence, so why claim the bible as evidence if you have other evidence? What is this evidence then?

If it seems I was shifting the goal posts, I was unconsciously merely trying to match the goal posts at your end .. generally speaking, not directly at you.   Well yes, both are books, both are descibed as stories with pages of literature. If we went about in the world believing by the concept explained in Snowy's example ... without analyzing and thorough study of investigation we would have Snow White and the seven dwarfs being taught in history class.  



Did I make that claim? It doesn't sound like something I'd claim to be honest, firstly define what you mean by sure? For the record I know of no evidence at all that dragons ever existed, though they are mentioned in the bible of course. How sure are you they existed, and what evidence are you basing this on?  


I didn't mean to sound this to be yours particularly an outright claim. I was replying to the mention of dragon (of the ancient world) is indicative of the language discription of certain creatures in all those ancient civilisations.


Yes, humans love to create fictional creatures, I infer from this only that human testimony should never be taken literally without evidence commensurate to the claim. Especially when the claims derive from an epoch of scientific ignorance and superstition by contemporary standards.
No disputing you here but continous investigation and study would put some claims to rest "once and for all" or prove otherwise.




Why atheists? The necessity of proper evidence has nothing to do with atheism, which is just the absence of a single belief. Babies are atheists, do babies demand unreasonable evidence for claims in your experience?

That is a point -you could call them agnostics by the same thought that they "don't know" (yet).


Ought we to be sceptical of such texts and their claims do you think?
Without study yes.


I sense you're implying something here, but I'm not sure what? Did you think I meant dinosaur when I said dragon? If so I can assure I did not. I realise we can't properly define dragons precisely because they fictional of course, but it was the fictional dragons I was referring to. We have evidence that dinosaurs once existed that is beyond any reasonable doubt, I know of no evidence that dragons are anything other than fictional. Any dragon fossils you are ware of?

Any thoughts on the Japanese claims their emperors are deities? Why are such claim less valid than antiquated biblical texts in your opinion?
I agree with you on fictional dragons tales in this respect. The biblical texts actually acknowledge deities (the fallen , nephilim and powerful men) which is strange when used as an argument many times. There is no contradiction. Hence the saying" God is the one true God" - opposed to the worship of false gods . Many names for these deities depending which group of people used - Baal ,Moloch, Meroduch/Marduke, Nebo, Tammuz, and dagon to name a few.

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Re: Evidence for the existence of God (Part 3)

Post by Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD on Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:47 pm

This episode of The Atheist experience seems very apropos to the discussion.

https://youtu.be/m3MRE1mULVs

Matt Dillahunty was an evangelical christian and studying to become a preacher convinced him more and more that the bible was unreliable and in places demonstrably untrue, until in the end he lost his religious beliefs completely and became an atheist.
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Re: Evidence for the existence of God (Part 3)

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