29th October 2008

“I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.”

Isaac Asimov1920 – 1992

5 Responses to “29th October 2008”

  1. Tony Pro Says:

    I know I swim in murky waters on this thought; but I can’t help but give some credibility to the LACK of evidence. To clarify, I think that “no evidence” of something over long periods of time is in fact evidence itself.
    We’ve been seeking for millennia and the preponderance of “nothing” seems to be quite damning to the theists credibility.
    This point I hardly ever hear or read about and the ambiguity is working hard on my brain.
    I can’t stand when my lack of scientific answers leaves me hanging.
    Of course, I know I’ve come to the right place.

  2. Cliff Says:

    The search for evidence to prove a negative may always be futile. So Tony’s argument that the lack of evidence for God’s existence somehow means anything seems incredible to me. As a theist who believes in a transcendent God completely beyond the bounds of this physical cosmos, I expect a complete lack of physical, empirical evidence for his existence or non-existence. So I do not blame Asimov for giving up. However, if he had reversed his approach, he may have found that the search for evidence favoring God’s existence, evidence of a completely different sort, would prove fruitful. Millions of believers (including countless former atheists) have discovered this to be so.

  3. Tony Pro Says:

    I can see your point on the first sentence.
    Although you must have meant “will” in place of “may”, which makes your 2nd sentence more understandable.
    The next sentence could have been more concise had you used “faith” in place of “I expect a com…. or non existence”.
    Assuming Asimov had a higher % of theists to bounce heads with then we do even now, makes me empathize with his lack of desire to “want to waste my time”.
    Next please.

  4. Chris Says:

    The tenor of the discussion reminds me of Russel’s Teapot. For those not in the know, Bertrand Russell made the following assertion:

    “If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”

    While the COMPLETE lack of testable evidence is not evidence of absence I think it IS evidence that argues against the personal God of the bible – the one that tells Jews to commit atrocities, parents to kill their children, wipes out everyone in the world except one drunk (Noah) and his family with a flood and says that if you don’t believe that a man that maybe never lived (Jesus) you won’t be forgiven for a “sin” committed by two people that never lived.

    So, sure, we can’t say definitively that there is not God but for what reason would be behave as if there were?

  5. Joe Pro Says:

    I’m always impressed by Russel’s Teapot analogy – I think it defends our right to doubt in general, and, also goes a long way in making us think about the overwhelming likelihood that a ‘preponderance of evidence’ perspective (or lack of it, in this case) would counter nicely the ‘preponderance of propaganda’ bias of the dominant culture.

    Similarly, an open minded perspective is one that tolerates even claims that we doubt – which is why I shy away from militancy and tend to be agnostic – here is where I squarely side with Asimov however… Why should I waste my time developing either proof or disproof of something so spectacularly doubtful?

    To me the “concept of God” is amazingly powerful, extremely productive towards many ends (good and bad), it has value and purpose but His existence, beyond the workings of our minds, is ticklish and questionable to say the least. Furthermore, focus on existence is, as Asimov says, a waste of our time.

    What is less of a waste, is a search for meaning – why are we here – or, what should I do with this wonderful gift of life? However, I can ponder that, and so can you, without having to quibble over the existence of “insert name of your deity here”. As you ponder, enlist things you have faith in, but also be cynical – faith and cynicism are orders of magnitude more powerful when used together than either is alone.