This question that theists ask atheists arose from internet blog sparring in response to a June 22, 2015, article by Steve Greene called, How to validate atheism in one easy step. He says, “So this is how you validate atheism in one easy step: Ask the god-believer to produce actual, credible, real world evidence of this god. He will never do it. He will always engage in word games employed to try to conjure up his god – while never even attempting to produce actual, relevant, empirical evidence of any god.” While Greene is mistaken in his assumption that an atheist would need to “validate atheism,” he makes strong points about the alleged evidence theists use to defend their arguments for a god.
Online theist pundits have responded to the question by arguing that the question should be posed to atheists. In one unsigned online article from June 24, 2015, the writer presents a theist response to the demand for evidence that has been repeated by other theist pundits online. In his post, the anonymous writer presents three questions to ask in response to the question for evidence.
Question 1: What would you count as “actual, credible, real world evidence for God?” If the atheist refuses to answer, he/she will be exposed as Hiding the Goalpost, demonstrating the inherent intellectual dishonesty in such a demand. If the atheist finally answers, there is a very, very high likelihood he/she will cite some dramatic, miraculous, sensational demonstration of God’s power. And that leads to the second question.
The anonymous writer of that question looks ready for a fight. A good answer to the question of evidence would be any evidence that leads to a logical presumption for the argument of a god. The writer then goes on use an illusory assumption that an atheist would want a convincing hallucination to believe in a god. One claim of atheists is that theists base their belief in their idea of a god on their beliefs that alleged prophets had convincing hallucinations of a god. The word theist means anyone who believes that a god revealed itself to a person, that theists call prophets, and that what that person said about the god is true. Atheists claim that the prophets, if they were real people and not fiction, had hallucinations or they made up stories.
The anonymous writer has said is that atheists would cite hallucinations similar to what the alleged prophets are said to have had as evidence. This statement has nothing to do with the question asked of the theist or the theist restatement of the question to the atheist. All theist arguments for a god are proven to the theist by faith and not by evidence. Faith in Hebrews 11:1 by its stated definition is a substitute for evidence. What Greene has asked is for the theist to provide any evidence that is not faith. What the anonymous writer has presented, is evasion of the question.
The second question posed by the unnamed writer relies on the false presumption presented by the first and makes an illusory assumption that an atheist would consider hallucinations as evidence of a god. The writer then goes on to conflate God of the Gaps with a gap when he assumes that a hallucination of a god “could not possibly be explained by natural causes and science.” The fallacious question follows with each sentence in its explanation bouncing logic back and forth and out of the discussion.
Question 2: Why would that dramatic, miraculous, sensational event count as evidence for God? At this point, the atheist will likely try to change the topic. But persist with the question. What you will find is that the reason why the atheist would count such an event as evidence for God is because it could not possibly be explained by natural causes and science. In other words, because it was a Gap. Modern day atheism is built on God of the Gaps logic.
A “dramatic, miraculous, sensational event” is not an atheist proposition and the presumption is a theistic attempt to evade the question of proof by shifting the burden of proof and using some sort of straw man with the writer’s misunderstanding of God of the Gaps to evade the question of proof. There is a illusory statement of some sort of tu qoque fallacy in saying that atheists would need to see a “miraculous event” to accept a god is real, then the writer makes a segue toward projection by saying that “atheism is built on God of the Gaps logic.” The main argument atheists have against theist arguments is that theism relies on the God of the Gaps. The God of Gaps fallacy is a combination of the fallacies of Appeal to Ignorance and Appeal to Authority. In the God of the Gaps fallacy, the person using the fallacy argues that there can be no natural explanation for some phenomena, therefore a god was the cause. This fallacy is mocked as, “Because god,” suggesting that the theist answer for anything they do not know is because their god made it happen.
The third question further develops the theist confusion of the God of Gaps fallacy and volleys different claims in some sort of sandbagging. The third question and its discussion becomes an emotional rant lacking substance that concludes with the writer almost conceding that there is no evidence for a god.
Question 3: Is the God of the Gaps reasoning a valid way of determining the existence of God? If the atheist has not bailed on you yet, he/she will likely run now. For if he/she answers NO, then it will become clear that nothing can count as evidence for the existence of God. Why? Because if the only “evidence” the atheist “Judge/Jury” will allow in his/her kangaroo court is a Gap (something that cannot be explained by science/natural law), and God-of-the-Gaps reasoning is also not allowed by the atheist, then it is clear the atheist demand for evidence is a sneaky, dishonest game of “heads I win, tails you lose.”
The writer makes a prediction about the question theists should pose to atheists saying, “the atheist ... will likely run now.” Likely? Possible. Loaded questions based on fallacious reasoning, false presumptions, and illusory pseudo-facts will never lead to a sane discussion. The three unsigned questions in response to Steve Greene’s article conform to Greene’s prediction that the theist “will always engage in word games.” In this case, the theist is projecting what he has heard said about his arguments.
God of the Gaps reasoning is what theists use to explain things in nature that they do not understand and it is the main argument against the theist argument for a god. Atheists accept that there are things in nature that we do not understand. The theist then answers the unanswered questions of nature by saying their god caused these things and that people cannot understand them because that god is too powerful and beyond the means of human knowledge. The atheist response to the unanswered questions is that there is an answer that we can find, although it may take generations of humanity and study before we find those answers.
The anonymous theist writer is trying to redefine the God of the Gaps fallacy as being an unanswered question and suggesting that atheists commit the fallacy when they do not have an answer to a natural phenomena. The fallacy is committed when someone argues that because there is no answer, the answer must be a god. This third answer raises the question, “Why must there be a god?”
Our anonymous writer answers the question for “actual, credible, real world evidence for a god” by restating the question and evading an answer. Since the writer does not have any valid evidence for a god, the writer does not have a valid argument for a god, at least, not in that post.