No evidence equals atheismWhen you ask an atheist why they are an atheist, it’s not uncommon for them to respond, “Because there is no good evidence that God exists.”  If that is their only justification for atheism, they have made a gross logical blunder.

In the case of genuine dichotomies (such as God’s existence: God exists, or God does not exist), the lack of evidence for A is neither evidence against A, nor evidence for B.  In order to conclude that A is true or B is true, one must have positive evidence for the truth value of A or B.  The absence of evidence for both A and B simply means that we must suspend judgment.

Applied to the debate over God’s existence, even if one wants to argue that there is no good evidence for theism, it does not follow that theism is false, and it certainly does not follow that atheism is true.  To conclude that theism is false one must present positive arguments against theism.  Likewise, to conclude that atheism is true, one must present positive arguments for atheism.  Atheism is not the default position in the absence of evidence for God’s existence.

Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga made this point in a poignant fashion in a recent New York Times interview.  He said, “Lack of evidence, if indeed evidence is lacking, is no grounds for atheism. No one thinks there is good evidence for the proposition that there are an even number of stars; but also, no one thinks the right conclusion to draw is that there are an uneven number of stars. The right conclusion would instead be agnosticism.” Precisely. Even if there is no evidence for God’s existence (a claim I would reject), the proper conclusion would be agnosticism, not atheism. Atheism, like theism, requires a positive argument before it is worthy of being believed.

HT: Stand to Reason

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