This blog post (https://atheistforum.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/unbelievable-comments-about-philosophy/) echoes a Christian ‘yeah but..’ that I regularly encounter.
It comes in the form of a complaint about the demand for evidence and is typical of those who, having lost the argument about what the evidence indicates, resort to the final frontier, that which can’t be evidenced. It’s their safe space from those nasty horrid atheists that keep demanding evidence, how darest they!
The blog post I referenced above is commenting on an episode of the Unbelievable? podcast (http://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable) it’s a weekly Christian radio show, here in limeyland,which features discussion on a range of subjects; usually two guests with differing view points, often one Christian and one not. I listen to it. In fact it’s the only podcast on the subject of religion that I habitually listen to. I like the format and I like the stimulation that I get from the discussions. Sometimes I get frustrated at the utter ridiculousness of Christian defence, which is why the linked blog post has prompted me to write my own.
The part I want to pick out is the final sentence of this section.
I tended to enjoy the debate and it provided much food for thought and further discussion. Yet the debate took a surprising turn right at the end (around the 1 hour 8 minute to 1 hour 10 minute). Jeremy Rodell made a surprising and almost unbelievable comment.
When it came to sharing final thoughts Rodell asserted that a person should base what you believe on evidence and ‘I don’t see any evidence for Tim’s worldview’.
However the problem with Rodell’s statement is that whilst it is intuitively appealing, it is actually philosophically flawed. The claim that you should base what you believe on evidence is self defeating, because this assertion itself is not based on evidence. Where is the evidence for that statement? That claim cannot be demonstrated through ‘evidence’, it must be assumed.
When faced with the challenge of evidence to back up belief in a god, the Christian responds with the retort that there is no evidence that we should search for evidence and then stands back apparently chuffed at having delivered a bamboozling come back. If I wanted to drop to this level of playground hair-pulling I’d retort with a request for the not evidence that demonstrates anything. Would the person who thinks they’re being clever in demanding evidence for the demand for evidence like to stand in a courtroom and watch a defendant come up with that? I bet they’d join the judge in laughing their wig off!
The simple fact is that everything that we know to be right and everything that we know to be wrong is known because of evidence. Evidence drives all knowledge. That is the evidence for the assertion that we should base our beliefs on evidence.
In my many discussions (well, arguments actually) with Christians, I’ve met the claim that the scientific method of evidence gathering, prediction and test is a philosophical position. Yet here there is a Christian saying it’s a philosophical failure to want evidence for a belief. How cute!
This is the rotten part of religion, it places pandering and wishful thinking above what can be shown and demonstrated.
The question ‘where is your evidence for the claim that we should have evidence?’ is not an honest challenge, it’s a diversion from an uncomfortable corner from which the Christian wishes to escape. The question I tend to ask back is ‘Why would you want to believe anything that you can’t demonstrate to be true?’, maybe one day a Christian will answer that one honestly ….