Tuesday, May 14, 2013

There's No Evidence

Over the weekend I wrote about Richard Dawkins arguing with a creationist. One thing about their discussion that I found interesting was that she kept saying that there is no evidence for evolution. Dawkins kept providing evidence, but it was pretty much just dismissed out of hand. He would give her an example of some evidence for evolution, she would say that evidence is insufficient or invalid. He would then say that there is a ton of evidence out there and she would dismiss that as well.

My first reaction is that this is ludicrous, there is so much evidence out there that it is mind boggling for her to claim there is none. And yet, as I thought about it I realized how similar the things she was saying about evolution are to the things I regularly say about God. I feel like I am constantly saying variations of "I've never seen a shred of decent evidence for God". People will insist there is a ton of evidence out there, and I will say I've seen it and it doesn't hold up. When they give examples I will tell them why it isn't good enough.

To the casual or untrained observer, these two conversations will seem completely analogous. We are both having exactly the same fight over different issues. But the difference is clear when you look at how challenges are handled. If someone provides me with evidence for God, I will actually dig in to what they have to say and explain why I think it is poor. (In the vast majority of cases, the evidence that I am given is the cosmological argument). When Dawkins presented her with evidence she did not address them, she simply denied that the fossils exist and then quickly changed the subject. In fact, at one point in the video he called her on this exact thing and she just did it again. She started talking about something else.

I find it very frustrating, because we both make the claim "there is no evidence for X". In my case, I say this about evidence for God because I have looked for evidence for quite a while, and every time I am given evidence it is garbage. I ask for evidence from Christians whenever it is appropriate and whenever I'm given something I dig into it and try to see what kind of merit it has, there is just never any. In this particular creationist's case, she went as far as to claim there were not fossils of our ancestors in museums! She's either lying or she has only been to really shitty museums.

It honestly makes me wonder if this is done on purpose. Has someone in the creationist camp looked at arguments against them and molded their arguments to mirror them? Perhaps they think that if both sides have similarly structured arguments the average person listening will think they are equally valid. On the other hand, this might just be a natural place that these types of arguments tend to eventually sound.

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