Atheism, atheists and evidence.

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Sheldon's picture
Atheism, atheists and evidence.

Firstly some clarification here as I think some threads are designed to equate atheism and atheist incorrectly, and to use this misnomer to suggest yet again that atheism carries with it a burden of proof.

Atheism is the absence or lack of belief in a deity or deities, it is nothing more, and therefore carries no burden of proof. This of course includes the idea that it needs to define deities in any way, or define what is and is not acceptable evidence for the claim or belief that a deity exists.

Atheists by definition lack the belief that a deity or deities exist. On it's own as the previous paragraph states, this carries no burden of proof, and that would include the idea they need to define a deity or the evidence they'd require in order to believe a diety exists. Though of course any atheist is free to do this if they are minded to. It goes without saying that a dozen theists together, even with ostensibly the same religious beliefs, are often unlikely to agree on important aspects of that religion's dogma and even doctrinal teachings. Thus to me it is absurd to pose questions to atheists asking them to define a deity, and what evidence would therefore be required for them to believe it. To me this is a dishonest attempt to ignore their actual belief in favour of a generic belief that they don't hold, but which they think they can 'build' evidence on for a deity.

As to evidence they have been asked to provide the best they have, since we already know objective empirical evidence has provided the best results, and science is by far and away the best method for this, then I asked for 'the best objective evidence' they have. The objections to science aside, since I didn't include it in my request, it's hard to see why any theist would not offer the best evidence they claim to have, or why they would object to it being objective? I mean subjective evidence is of little use as we can believe anything, and often do, using subjective evidence.

Now as mentioned above an atheist and atheism are not the same thing, as an atheist can hold irrational and subjective beliefs, and I have encountered atheists who believe in things as outlandish and absurd as a flat earth, ancient aliens, and the worst kind of conspiracy theories. It goes without saying these beliefs have nothing to do with atheism per se. Thus asking people who can hold a subjective opinion, what evidence they would accept for one belief they don't hold is irrational to me, as religious beliefs fall into two ostensible categories, beliefs that are falsifiable and those that are not. Clearly a standard of evidence can't rationally be set for the second by definition.

So in conclusion it has been suggested that theists offering their best 'objective' evidence is a waste of time until they know what will be accepted? If atheists knew this they'd unlikely be atheists. The implication is obvious, and here searches for truth has helped us, as he makes this assertion endlessly, is that atheists are ignorant of some truth that represents evidence for his version of his deity.

So the question is why doesn't he just present this esoteric truth and stop wasting time asking those who don't believe, to offer examples of evidence for something they don't believe in, often when the claims, which vary wildly, are unfalsifiable anyway and no evidence can by definition exist.

So I ask again, as I have done many times, searches for truth, what evidence can you demonstrate that any deity exists?

I can't say what I will accept until it is offered, with a precise definition also offered for the deity that that 'evidence' is being offered to support.

I can tell you since you've asked what I'll accept, that I set the same standard for all claims, as this is the very definition of open minded reasoning. That all ideas and claims are examined without bias. So as a minimum I would require that all claims have objective evidence demonstrated to support them, that are commensurate to the claim. There is no need therefore to rule out what is not contained in that standard, or to give 'examples' of what the standard implies.

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arakish's picture
Nice, Sheldon. I am stealing

Nice, Sheldon. I am stealing this for my own reference.

I do not think SfT will be able to understand...


Sheldon's picture
Thanks, I broke my own rule

Thanks, I broke my own rule on brevity, and now must be punished with a medium priced Shiraz with lunch, but if a job's worth doing...

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Hi Sheldon,

Hi Sheldon,

This in a few forms and much interpretation is the summation of Islamic "proof" It doesn't vary too much between the sects....anymore that the belief in the resurrection varies between the christian cults. In all my time debating and learning about Islam the 'evidence' offered didn't vary much from this formula.
Whether any rational person can accept the "evidence" for Islam is a point for debate. This is the kind of 'evidence' that SfT wants to bring to the table.

The evidence for the validity of Islam and the truthfulness of the Prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is abundant and can hardly be enumerated. This evidence is sufficient to convince any wise and fair-minded person who is impartially and sincerely seeking the truth. We can sum up some of this proof as follows.

1. The evidence of sound human nature
2. Rational evidence
(texts from the Quran)
3. Miracles and signs of Prophethood
4. Prophecies
5. Qualities and attributes
( Here depending on the sect the scholar will argue Mohammed's 'pure' nature and morals.)
6. The essence of the call
This blessed call is regarded as a continuation and affirmation of the previous divinely revealed messages that called to belief in the oneness of Allah. Therefore Islam called people to believe in all the Messengers and Prophets, and to respect them and venerate them, and to believe in the Books that were revealed to them. A call such as this is undoubtedly true.
7. Foretelling of Islam
(usual references to the pentateuch and other texts)

8. The Holy Qur’an
How the fuck did we miss this? here's a quote: The Qur’an as a whole, and parts of it, even the shortest surah of it, is a miracle in terms of its composition and eloquence, and its speaking of the unseen, and its harmony with reason and its precise meanings. All these aspects may appear in one verse, or some of them may not be present, such as telling of the unseen. There is no harm in that and no flaw, because what is there is sufficient.

Circular much?

The quotes I have introduced above are not quotes from my actual teachers but they might well have been...these are from

The tradition of Islamic scholarship is quite rigid and the above is the form it will take who ever argues it....

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ Sheldon

@ Sheldon

Very nice shiraz half price at BWS if you have the points card...on is $14 for members and the other (langhorne?) Half price at $10.00...excellen value...half way through my second bottle since visits always needs anesthesia!

Sheldon's picture
I'm in the UK, and will be

I'm in the UK, and will be passing Lidl, which limits the selection a little. I actually shop for wine at a nearby Aldis quite a lot, and have to say their wine selection is pretty good in the medium to lowish price range. Lidl's I am new to and still finding my feet, but they have some reasonably priced Shiraz, Australian mostly, and ok for the price. Lidl also has its own bakery, and since I'm dieting I try to avoid it. Haven't even used my bread maker for a while now. I will now have to digest one of my mothers gargantuan Sunday lunches though.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Dammit, the Chinese, yanks

Dammit, the Chinese, yanks and poms actually get the best of our wines, seafood and fruit....a couple of years ago I bought a case of wine for my illustrator in th UK only to find he could buy the same stuff at half the I bought him 3 cases....

Sheldon's picture
My all time favourite is a

My all time favourite is a Penfold Bin28 Kalimna shiraz, a middling price but a wine that punches well above its price for me. Tesco wine warehouse used to sell for well under £10 and deliver by the case and half case. If I'd had a wine seller and the wherewithal I'd have filled it with examples of this from the late 90's and early 2000's. I now usually buy a crate for xmas holidays.

TheBlindWatchmaker's picture
Very well put Sheldon, Thank

Very well put Sheldon, Thank you!
When I see posts that try to make it appear to be anything but, well it's face-palm invoking!

I am also joining you on the Shiraz coincidently, a lovely bottle of Rex Mundi Grenache Shiraz.


Sheldon's picture
Thank you, andxsorry for the

Thank you, and sorry for the tardy reply. I had no doubt that SFT would never set foot in this thread, or that if he did that he wouldn't attempt to offer any candid substantive reply.

He is simply looking to advertise his beliefs in what we know is now a competing market place, but we also know, since he's had weeks on here, that he has nothing in the way of evidence he can demonstrate to support his beliefs. Certainly not objective empirical evidence which of course he was careful to specifically rule out at the start. Just before he asked atheists to offer him examples of evidence for his beliefs that they'll accept, even though he also refuses to properly Define those beliefs, by as a minimum properly defining the deity he believes is real.

All we get is a round-robin Of generic platitudes that are designed to get us reading the Koran and giving his beliefs the "benefit of the doubt" as if there's anything compelling in there Muslims have neglected to share clearly with the wider world, and so by implication non Muslims remain sceptical out of ignorance. Which of course is what he has implied repeatedly. As do most Muslims that i have observed engage in these kind of discussions of course.

I will ask again as I have done each time...SFT please can you demonstrate the best "evidence" You have for your deity?

The longer it goes completely unanswered the more risible his "common ground for evidence" thread appears.

We'll have common ground when he can cogently define the deity he believes exists, and can demonstrate some objective evidence for believing it exists.

arakish's picture
Aww... C'mon Sheldon. You

Aww... C'mon Sheldon. You ought to know by now SfT only needs give one word to define his deity: Qu'ran.

Of course, even I have rejected that as any evidence since I have read it twice, but SfT says I do not understand it enough to have faith in what it says.

SfT: ;-P


LogicFTW's picture


More like you understand the quran all too well. You are able to read between the lines and see what it is, a fantastical story that makes no real sense and contradicts itself constantly.

A fictional story that has all the hallmarks of other fictional stories written around the same time. That shares many many similarities to the various versions of the bible back then as well as other religious text.

arakish's picture
More like you understand the

More like you understand the quran all too well.

Dang. Even trying to hide behind a joke you see right through me...


Dave Matson's picture
That's the erudite, necessary

That's the erudite, necessary presentation which any clear-thinking individual surely appreciates.
The nut shell version goes like this:

Someone claims that the Easter Bunny is alive and well and, taking note of your frown, challenges you to prove otherwise. You reply by saying "I am not actually claiming that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist. I just don't see any good reasons to buy the story. So, if you want to sell the Easter Bunny story to me then you need to supply those good reasons that I seem to have missed (the extraordinary evidence). Since I'm not claiming anything here, in that I am merely reporting my feelings, I am under no obligation to prove that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist.

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