|Bill and Ted|
Jan 29 2009
|what counts as evidence?|
People disagree about a lot of things, not just religion. It has always seemed to me that part of the reason is that people weigh evidence differently. Some people seem to be really convinced by a drug commercial if it has a person wearing a white lab coat in it, and others do not, for example.
People who are religious seem to put a lot of weight on what they personally feel (emotional thinking) and on hearsay testimony of others who they may not have even met (faith in testimony). I can't talk for every atheist, but for me personally, these kinds of evidence don't carry much weight at all and I think that is an important part of why I don't believe in God. The evidence that religious people list when they are explaining their beliefs usually involve their feelings that God should (or must) exist, the books that contain descriptions of miracles that other people supposedly saw, and just the idea that their relatives and ancestors believed it and so it must be true. But, these are exactly the kinds of evidence that I find unconvincing.
I'm not rejecting those kinds of evidence just because I want to. Introspection is enough to see that your feelings can be misleading. Whether you are happy or sad or scared or whatever doesn't necessarily have anything to do with reality. People may think that when they are nervous it means that something bad is going to happen, but your emotions are easily fooled. And, it is not too hard to see that that sort of testimony from people about religion and miracles isn't reliable either. I mean, you can't believe all of the people who say that they were inspired by God and that they witnessed miracles, even if you believe in some. There are too many who say completely different things, some who are obviously liars just trying to get wealth and power, and some who are obviously crazy.
So, if I'm looking for an answer to the question "Is there a God?", I don't take that kind of evidence seriously because there is just no way to know if it is reliable. Then, when I look at reliable evidence, like science or straight logic, that all seems to point in the direction of religion being nothing but the creation of the human imagination, and the universe being an amazing and wonderful but unplanned thing that really doesn't particularly care about our species or our planet.
I guess what I'm saying is, even if we all agreed about what the evidence is, we might all reach different conclusions because of how much weight we give to different kinds of evidence.