Do we live in a world with a god? It doesn’t look like it (part 1 of this series here).
Let’s continue our survey with the next clue that we live in a godless world.
From the standpoint of many Christians, evidence is mere decoration. It’s the parsley on the plate of the Christian argument.
For example, William Lane Craig has made a career by using science to argue for Christian apologetics. Unfortunately, he undercuts his entire project when he says, “It is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity’s truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role.”
Even if we take his theology for granted, it still doesn’t make sense. Craig says, “The experience of the Spirit’s witness is self-authenticating for him who really has it.” Okay, then who really has it? Does Craig have it? Maybe he’s wrong to think that he does. Maybe someone he’s dismissed as unworthy of God’s favor has it instead. There is no public, objective algorithm that we can all apply to see who has been touched by the Holy Spirit. It’s not an evidence-based process.
And when you return his theology to the spotlight, the usual questions return. Does the Holy Spirit (or any member of the Trinity) exist? When two Christians (or Christian denominations) disagree, which one is correct? Of the mountain of supernatural claims made by the world’s religions, which are correct? Religion gives you no way to answer these questions reliably.
Christians can look to the Bible for the rules of how to get into heaven just like a Dungeons & Dragons player can look up the capabilities of various characters. While the Bible is more venerable than the D&D handbook, neither is a reliable source of supernatural information. If we lived in God World, we’d know it because supernatural truths would be reliably accessible to everyone using reason and evidence.
See also: Faith, the Other F-Word
God’s marvelous plan is not that marvelous. Eight million people have died from natural disasters since 1900.
When we fight against natural disasters—stack sandbags against a flood, create vaccines, or warn people about hurricanes—are we subverting God’s plan? How can Christians hold in their heads these two contradictory ideas: God’s plan is to kill millions by natural disasters and we should do our best to subvert that plan? What does it say about the vagueness of God’s plan that we even have to ask that question? (More here.)
But with this argument we meet our old friend, the Hypothetical God Fallacy. The key word is the if. Yes, if God exists, then you win the argument! You can just stop there, but you know that you don’t assume God into existence; you must provide evidence. Assuming God into existence doesn’t support your argument. If you want to argue that God has good reasons, first show us that God exists.
An alternative argument you could make is to enumerate those good reasons for the disaster. And don’t say, “Well, it might be this.” No, you must make a convincing, non-hand-waving argument showing us how things are objectively better after the disaster.
Second, apologists look at the value of natural disasters. Maybe they’ll say that earthquakes are part of a natural cycle that recycles minerals. Or that hurricanes are just part of the weather cycle, and we don’t complain about gentle spring rains and warm summer sun, do we?
This is the inept argument that desperate apologists like John Lennox makes to assist his impotent god. It’s actually humans’ fault, he’ll add, because we build in flood plains or near coasts or on fault lines.
(Okay, today we can blame humans for some of this, though it would’ve been nice for God to have guided city placement centuries ago, before we knew the science.)
And if earthquakes are necessary, God could just clip their magnitude. The energy of a magnitude 8 earthquake could be channeled into 10,000 magnitude 5 earthquakes. Tornadoes could be steered away from towns. Rain storms could be spread out to avoid flash floods. Droughts and locusts could just be eliminated. God is magic, remember?
Natural disasters with natural explanations are evidence that God doesn’t exist.
Continue with part 10.
Because they don’t deserve their arms,
That’s what the Bible teaches.
Sorry if you don’t like that!
— video blogger VenomFangX
Image via Ethan Bergeron, CC license