I can fly, but only if no one is watching. True story bro.
Once Upon a Time
If there is even one person who believes that I can fly based solely on my word, then they're likely the most gullible person on the earth. In an age where every phone has a camera and nearly everyone has a phone, the phrase of the day has become, "Pics, or it didn't happen". Whether people want to face up to it or not we've become a people who require evidence to a much greater extent than ever. And well we should, because it seems this hasn't always been the case and it's caused quite a mess for us. In the days before cameras and mass media, a man could make a claim and have many people believe him without a shred of evidence.
Let's take Joseph Smith for example. The man claimed to find tablets that no one saw and claimed to be able to read those tablets using magic stones. The validity of his supposed translations can never be established because those gold tablets don't exist now and likely never did. But enough people took this story at face value that it brought about the Mormon church. What is just as bad is that not only could he not substantiate his claim to have translated this text from heavenly tablets, but within the text are such bizarre claims that it very well needs some substantial evidence if it's going to even be considered. Such claims include that Jesus was a space alien and brother of Lucifer, just to name a few.
Show Me the Money
So even though most all of us expect evidence to support a claim these days, why do so many accept things like the myths of religion as facts? The answer lies in the fact that we all accept different levels and types of evidence. Hearsay evidence may be enough to convince some while others find this lacking. So when men like Ken Ham say that we all have the same evidence but interpret it differently, they're not really being honest. I don't accept the bible as evidence because it's nothing but hearsay and conjecture. More importantly, even if I were to meet Jesus today I would not accept that he can perform miracles without proof. I'm like Missouri that way... you've gotta show me.
But in the time of Jesus people were very accepting of second and third hand accounts because that's how they got the vast majority of the information. Travel was difficult and it simply wasn't possible to verify everything that you heard. So each person simply had to choose what things they believed. The more others believed it, the more likely you were to believe it. Of course this in no way actually validates the claim in the least. Even if the whole world believes a lie, it doesn't make the lie true. In the end this is one of the key reasons we have developed standards of evidence to validate a claim that is universal.
Bearing the Burden
The reason I bring this topic up is because of the recent release of a film called God is not Dead. Some of you may have seen this tripe already and probably are like me in wishing you could have those wasted minutes of your life back. For those of you who haven't seen it, I would advise you to save your money and see Guardians of the Galaxy instead.
Anyway, the plot of this movie involves a young college student who is taking a course on philosophy. The professor gives the class an assignment over Nietzsche and his infamous phrase "God is dead". This leads the student who is a Christian into an exchange with the professor over the existence of god, which further leads to a debate between teacher and student over the matter in front of the entire class.
Now the student's entire argument is built on the premise that the teacher can't prove that god doesn't exist, so haha, he wins. I'll spare you the details of the debate, but I'm certain you can already tell that the student comes out the victor and the teacher comes out looking like a silly asshole. Everyone lives happily ever after, except the atheist teacher who presumably ends up burning in hell, as all us heathens should.
Every atheist reading this knows exactly why that student's argument is pure horse shit. We've likely all had that heated debate where some clown wants to tell us it's our job to prove them wrong about imaginary and supposedly other dimensional nonsense. Most of us have probably also heard them say that atheism is a claim that god doesn't exist and so we are burdened with proving that. But none of that is actually true and it can be frustrating trying to explain this to them.
This brings us back to the teaser I opened this blog with. Remember how I said I can fly? If you don't believe me, it isn't your job to prove I can't. You see all you're claiming is that you don't believe what I claimed. You aren't making a counterclaim. That's how atheism works too. It isn't a counterclaim. I'm not claiming that a god doesn't exist, I'm just claiming that I don't believe you if you say one does without some serious evidence. It isn't my job to disprove every claim of a god that is dreamed up, nor is it the job of any atheist. If you want me to believe in your god, then it's up to you to first prove that he exists and then we'll discuss the rest.
How I Met Your Mother Barney Explains The 3 Day
Photo Credit: Michael Hanson