David Hayward, AKA nakedpastor, sketched his version of the atheist/theist argument:
The post is titled, “how an atheist reaches out to a believer,” but obviously the image shows that it goes both ways. The cartoon is inspired by Steven Olsen, who wrote a piece on counter-evangelism.
In his post, Olsen compares belief in a deity to belief in Bigfoot. Hayward responds:
I’ve never understood how some atheists leap from God to Bigfoot. Some ideas or theories are valid to consider and others are not. I think the possible existence of God, or the idea of God, or the theory of God, is more valid to explore than the possible existence of Bigfoot, or the idea of Bigfoot, or the theory of Bigfoot. Some ideas, some possibilities, have better legs than others.
Well, Bigfoot has some legs. He’s got to, they have to support those feet. Meanwhile, anthropomorphic Gods are out of fashion, so no legs for Him … er, It.
Seriously, I’m not sure how Hayward arrives at his assessment of probability. I have a hunch that it comes down to the differing presuppositions between a theist and an atheist.While my default stance is to believe that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, the idea of it’s existence doesn’t seem invalid. The existence of Bigfoot would not require many new assumptions, since we’ve got primates and human, and since we still occasionally stumble across unknown species. If Bigfoot exists, the field of biology will not change in the slightest.
In contrast, the existence of a deity that fits the classic model of the Christian God would change things a great deal. God is timeless – what does that even mean? God is all powerful – where exactly is this energy coming from and where is it going? God is immaterial – but how does something without substance operate? God is beyond human categories and understanding, yet we know that He loves us – wtf?
Occam’s razor states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. The existence of a God requires whole new realms of assumptions. Physics would have to be rewritten to account for such a force or being.
At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much need for the God hypothesis to explain the workings of the universe. With all the new assumptions necessary, the God hypothesis seems like a razor bait if there ever was one. The existence of Bigfoot seems unremarkable by comparison.