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

From: Chris Cogan (
Date: Thu Jan 20 2000 - 22:23:35 EST

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    > 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
    > >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
    > >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
    > >set of evidence derived from human experience, they conclude that the
    > >explanation" of the evidence is that God, or a certain description of
    > >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
    > a deductively impeccable argument. I am merely making an inference
    > to the best explanation, in light of the evidence derived from human
    > experience.
    > And as far as the origin of life goes, intelligent design looks like the
    > explanation to me.

    Well, it would be, if it really *was* an explanation. I've pointed out in a
    previous post that it leads either to an infinite regress or to an assertion
    that is just as problematic as any claim of macroevolution. Evolution is
    reductive. It makes problems *smaller.* Design theory makes them *bigger,*
    by relocating them into an undetectable non-natural realm where pretty much
    anything goes (on a completely ad hoc basis). Even from the Design
    Theorist's point of view, evolution makes problems smaller. Now, instead of
    having to explain *everything* about the development of life on Earth, we
    only have to explain the origin and macroevolution (those occasional pieces
    of evolution that are claimed, sans proof, to be outside the capacity of
    sustained microevolution channeled and restricted by selection). The
    Designer thus becomes yet another "God of the Gaps" (with a vested interest
    in maintaining the gaps, because any naturalistic theory that was
    *obviously* adequate (even to the Design theorists) would eliminate
    *everything* of their theory).

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