Re: What is the evidence that atheism is *true*?

Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 23:33:42 EST

  • Next message: Stephen E. Jones: "Re: Pop Quiz : Vertebrates make up what percentage of the animal kingdom?, etc"

    Tom provides a very nice summary about the debate between atheism
    and theism that helps clarify (for me) my growing convictions about
    design. And thanks to Tom's words, I have to wonder if these growing
    views about design owe something to my earlier days as an atheist.

    >These comments are scattered through Stephen's post, but they all point to
    >a logical fallacy: the requirement that it is necessary, in this case, to
    >prove a negative. To "disprove the existence of God" is logically
    >impossible, because of the purely deductive nature of "disproofs," while
    >all arguments on this matter are carried out inductively. Thus, it is not
    >at all clear why atheists should be held to this strategic requirement.

    Indeed. Now here's the tie-in with my design views. A very common
    claim from the anti-design side is that we can only invoke a designer
    if the designer is needed/required to explain something. That is, if
    the designer is not needed to explain something, we can't invoke it.
    But when would a designer be *needed*? Only when a naturalistic
    explanation cannot apply. Thus, the design proponent is really supposed
    to prove that no naturalistic explanations exist. But I cannot disprove
    a naturalistic explanation about something that happened billions
    of years ago.

    >Of course, Stephen presents this requirement over against those who might
    >claim that atheism is "true." But most atheists I know aren't interested
    > in "proving" atheism "true," if that means providing a deductively
    > impeccable argument. They are interested in making an inference to the
    >best explanation, which is an inductive procedure. So, after assembling a
    >set of evidence derived from human experience, they conclude that the "best
    >explanation" of the evidence is that God, or a certain description of God,
    >cannot be justifiably said to exist. But this is much different from
    >"proving" anything.

    Again, the tie-in. I am not interested in proving design, such that I provide
    a deductively impeccable argument. I am merely making an inference
    to the best explanation, in light of the evidence derived from human
    And as far as the origin of life goes, intelligent design looks like the best
    explanation to me.


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