Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Absence of Evidence - The Atheist Copout

It still galls me that atheists require perfect evidence to believe in God, but will settle for a half-ass theory to believe in evolution.

From Richard Dawkins to Johnny A. Theist down the road, the catchcry is "There is no evidence for God". When asked exactly what type of evidence they require in order to believe, of course they would not settle for anything less than perfect evidence, the type of peer-reviewed evidence demanded by science. But, there are way too many problems with this, including that peers can only review based on their current level of knowledge and understanding. Given a few more decades, chances are that the same peers would review somewhat differently. So, pardon the irony, but science is not an exact science.

A relevant question would be: What kind of evidence would it take to go from being an atheist to, let's say, an agnostic or simply one who shuts up and reserves judgement until clearer evidence is produced? The Catholic Church abounds with such evidence. It will never be scientifically peer-reviewed because science does not yet have to tools to deal with anything supernatural. And if a scientist believed some of this evidence, chances are they wouldn't want their peers to know about it.

A dog has more sensory perception than man, but we have to accept that the tools of science are wielded by mere men. It may take centuries before science can seriously study supernatural phenomena.

So, what evidence can we gather from the Catholic Church that supports the existence of God. The question is: where to begin? Here are a few starters:

  1. Incorrupt bodies of saints (the genuine ones, yes we know there have been hoaxes)

  2. Stigmata (again, the genuine ones), e.g. Padre Pio

  3. Marian apparitions - e.g. Medjugorje, where seers still see the Blessed Virgin Mary today and which has been studied by three teams of scientists since 1981

  4. Eucharistic Miracles - there have been too many to count and YouTube even has videos of them.

  5. Sun miracles, e.g. at Fatima and Medjugorje
  6. Other empirical and completely mind-boggling evidence, such as the image of Our Lady in a rock at Las Lajas, Colombia. Scientists drilled that rock and found the image to be coloured in the rock itself to a depth of several feet!

I've tried to include modern examples such as Medjugorje, which are subject to even greater and knowledgable scrutiny than those of past eras. I could have included the Fatima miracle, during which 70,000 people simultaneously witnessed an awesome solar display, but the older something is, unfortunately the more easy it is to dismiss.
I fear the problem with atheism is that its participants are generally a dishonest bunch, willing to find anything to absolve them from the necessity of studying these evidences. If they studied the scientific reports on the visionaries at Medjugorje as much as they studied their "Popular Science" magazine, there would no longer be any sensible reason to be an atheist. In fact, you'd be a fool to still call yourself an atheist.

Click here for information on the scientific investigations carried out on the Medjugorje visionaries.


  1. Actually, many of these things have been studied in a rigorous scientific manner - I note that just because someone uses some measuring device that doesn't mean it's science - most of the Medjugorje "science" is long on measurement but short on controls, without with the data is meaningless. The site you link to included a skeptical view, but the most accurate thing it said was (paraphrasing) "I consulted two neurologists who both concluded no data collected supported a paranormal explanation for the observed phenomena". Doing science means you don't accept things at face value.

    For example, you give the example of "Incorrupt bodies of saints (the genuine ones, yes we know there have been hoaxes)" - ok, well, which ones AREN'T hoaxes? The ones accepted by the Church? Well, critical examination of these "Incorrupt bodies of saints" indicated no examples of incorruptable bodies, and plenty examples of mummification or outright deceipt such as using wax effigies or masks on corrupted corpses (see http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4126). I haven't seen much on stigmata but held up to real scientific examination (i.e. controls, double blind testing) I expect the same results - failure to meet any sort of reasonable criteria.

    I read through the "evidences" for you quote, and they seem to be well intentioned but poorly executed, and certainly not conclusive (there's that "extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence" thing again.) Certainly, detailed examination by qualified people indicated the same thing. Detailed review of so called "evidence" from similar occurrences (e.g. Fatima see http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4110 for another great summing up) have concluded "Delusion" not "Miracle". Sorry, just because 70,000 fanatic worshippers all see the same thing just means 70,000 people saw something odd - it doesn't prove anything else.

    Two more things:

    1. Why do you equate atheism with evolution? The Catholic Church accepts evolution, and last time I looked they were deists.
    2. Evolutionary theory is a demonstrated fact. Don't be confused between the scientific term "Theory" (which generally means "Consistent with multiple lines of evidence and predictive of observed effects") with "Hypothesis" which means "best guess based on observations" which is more consistent with most people's definition of "Theory" but not the scientific definition. If you have a problem with the theory of evolution being fact, please try jumping off a cliff and disputing the theory of gravitation, which has much the same weight of evidence as evoluton!

    Making blanket statements about atheists is akin to me saying "All Christians are bigots and hypocrites" because I've met a fair sampling who were. They're not at all, and it's simplistic to make these generalizations. Elsewhere you say "Atheists hate God" - no, atheists don't believe in God, so how could they hate him? The don't love Satan (don't believe in him either) and certainly Rama, Thor, Odin, Zeus, etc. etc. fall into the same category.

    I don't read Popular Science.

    1. Sure, we know that science doesn't support the Medjugorje phenomenon as paranormal. It simply can't. It can only rule out hoax and currently-known scientific explanations. That's as far as it goes with science. The potential evidence, in my eyes, is this inability for science to explain the phenomenon naturally + the nature of the phenomena, i.e. it is a religious phenomenon, suggesting that a known spiritually being (The Blessed Virgin Mary) is communicating with the visionaries. Not that this is any useful evidence in forming a conclusion, but it is at least:
      1) A spoiler of atheism - i.e. here is something that suggests God "might" exist, which science so far can't deny. Strong atheism is destroyed. Healthy, respectful agnosticism is called for.
      2) Something which cannot easily be designated to "God of the Gaps". I mean if spirits are speaking with people, science is unlikely to be able to provide a natural explanation in ther foreseeable future

      This applies to all the evidence I suggested: Fatima sun miracle, Rock of Our Lady of Las Lajas. These are are combination of unexplained phenomenon + religious content. Sure, we ALL KNOW they don't PROVEwhat I am suggesting. BUT, science is not in the business of absolute proof. It is in the business of following evidence WHEREVER IT MAY LEAD. Atheists try to block off the paths that lead to paranormal explanations, and hide behind science's lack of ability to deal with it, to achieve and justify that.

      Evolution is a nice one for atheists to grab onto. Hence, all atheists are evolutionists, pure and simple.

      An you are just parroting that old atheist rhetoric. "Scientific fact", "Accepted by the Church". The Church stance is more like "Common descent MAY be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not."

      Atheists believe in God, they fear God, they hope God doesn't exist OR they got tired of waiting for a personal experience OR they had negative experiences they blamed God for, OR they hate the idea of a God existing, which would take away all their illicit "fun". Otherwise, they wouldn't self-define and join atheists rallies as "atheists"; they would just get on with their lives wondering if God really existed, how amazing that would be and what that would mean.

  2. Einstein believed in God..for a clever scinetist that would be enough !

    others famous scientists believers:

    Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Johannes Kepler, William Thomson Kelvin, Max Planck, Isaac Newton....etc....

    1. Perhaps, but atheists will immediately say "Well, EVERYONE believed in God in those days. It was their culture and indoctrination". It doesn't convince them although we all enjoy it as believers.


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