Theists Can Always Deny the Evidence

Theists Can Always Deny the Evidence May 7, 2016

One of the cool tricks you can use to check yourself for confirmation bias is to try swapping roles with someone who holds a contrary opinion.

For example, suppose I wrote the following:

One of the things that an atheist must never forget when speaking with a theist, and especially when speaking with a theist who intones the ridiculous meme that “There are no honest atheists”, is that the theist can always deny, quite literally, any evidence against God’s His existence, for the theist, if he is willing to do so, can embrace credulity which is so indiscriminate and/or embrace any sectarian doctrine no matter how preposterous that even if we somehow had, say, DNA evidence that bones belonging to Jesus Christ Himself had been found in a grave, the theist could claim that he had just gone mad, or that it was just Satan playing a trick, or that non-Christians had fabricated the evidence, and so on (not to mention that the theist would also likely claim that the physical evidence of Jesus’ non-resurrection can’t compete with his experience of the ‘inner witness of the Holy Spirit’), all of which simply goes to show that the determined theist can freely choose to believe that God exists (or that God resurrected Jesus from the dead) no matter how much empirical evidence there is against it; now all of this is not to say that all theists are like this, or that such theists who are like the aforementioned ones are reasonable (for they are not), but noting the above fact 1) does help to explain why theists continue to believe what they believe in spite of the evidence against it, and 2) the above fact also shows that the so-called “Rebellion Thesis” — the idea that there are no honest atheists, just people who profess to be atheists because they are in rebellion against God — is at least partially overblown given the fact that even if such evidence is made apparent to them (and a good case can be made that it is), theists would nevertheless still claim that “There are no honest atheists,” so either way, no quantity of evidence could convince such pig-headedness freely…and as a side-note, and in keeping with the theme articulated in this particular thought, I have often wondered whether, at death, and at the judgement that follows, if God exists but Christianity is false, certain Christians will still be claiming that everything their inner witness of the Holy Spirit tells them that what is happening must not be real, or the work of Satan, and it would not be surprising if some did.

One could easily ‘invert’ this into something a Christian could write:

One of the things that a believer must never forget when speaking with an atheist, and especially when speaking with an atheist who intones the ridiculous meme that “There is no evidence for God”, is that the atheist can always deny, quite literally, any evidence that God could provide for His existence, for the atheist, if he is willing to do so, can embrace a skepticism which is so hyper-selective and/or embrace any other naturalistic explanation no matter how preposterous that even if Jesus Christ Himself returned tomorrow riding on clouds of lightening, the atheist could claim that he had just gone mad, or that it was just an advanced alien playing a trick, or that it was a mass hallucination, or that strange things happen in a multiverse, and so on (not to mention that the atheist would also likely claim that the miracle was not big enough to base his belief off of), all of which simply goes to show that even an omnipotent God, by definition, could not cause someone to freely come to believe in His existence no matter how much empirical evidence He provided for it; now all of this is not to say that all atheists are like this, or that such atheists who are like the aforementioned ones are reasonable (for they are not), but noting the above fact 1) does help to explain why God does not perform the various circus-tricks that atheists ask Him to perform before they claim they will “believe” in Him, for there is little point to do so given that God knows that even if He did so, many atheists would continue denying His existence, and 2) the above fact also shows that the so-called problem of divine hiddenness is at least partially overblown given the fact that even if God were not hidden and readily apparent (and a good case can be made that He is), atheists would nevertheless still claim that God was somehow hidden, so either way, God could not convince such pig-headedness freely…and as a side-note, and in keeping with the theme articulated in this particular thought, I have often wondered whether, at death, and at the judgement that follows, certain atheists will still be claiming that everything they see and hear is a hallucination, or dream, or strange multiverse occurrence, and it would not be surprising if some did.

For the avoidance of doubt, I reject both polemics. It seems to me that one can sincerely believe that God exists, that God does not exist, or be unsure.

More important, while one can always find ways to avoid the conclusions of an argument, doing so may come at a cost for some arguments. The key question is whether there any knock-down arguments (or experiences) which settle the matter so decisively that it is fair to paint one’s opponents as uncharitably as these polemics do. I think neither the best atheists nor the best theists can be so easily dismissed.

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