Tag: Evidence

Evidence and God

Lots of people ask for “evidence” that a creator exists.  “If a creator exists, why didn’t he leave evidence?”, one says.

But to ask for evidence in the form of an anomaly is to ask that the creator provides evidence for himself by creating something that contradicts the truth of what has actually been created.  It seems that such a person requires two contradictory truths in order to verify that a creator exists—for example, a reality that operates in a way that implies that a lifeless statue of the virgin Mary would not emit tears, juxtaposed to said statue having tears.  Or a world with physics that would be violated by a great booming voice coming from the heavens, vis a vis said voice manifesting.  Or the abstract idealization of a human form, divorced from the physical truth of what engenders a human form, and presented in some way thus contradictory to the truth of being a human, such as an angel in the form of a flying translucent human with wings, or a bright shining Jesus descending from the sky.

In any case, any asking for an anomaly to evidence a creator is asking for a hierarchy of truths, in order of ubiquity, in which one of these truths contradicts another one of these truths, or is at least asking for a cogent system of truth (such as natural process) followed by an unaccountable fact, particularly a fact in the form of a synthesis of two or more human abstracts, manifested physically, that is a strikingly unnatural or irrational synthesis; for example: “ceaseless” + ”burning” + ”a bush”; ”a voice” + ”having no source”; “a person rises” + ”he’d been dead for three days”; or “a statue” (i.e. “a human” + “artificial”) + “weeping.” I’m highlighting the fact these concepts are ultimately syntheses of human abstractions because they’re unrealistic, and unrealistic things can only be human abstractions.

Perhaps for some, the only thing inspiring or mysterious enough to suggest a creator is the irrational. That’s not to suggest that everything else in reality is rationally explainable—I would disagree with such a worldview—but that evidence of a creator must contradict reason. If everything that already exists is already evidence of God, then I don’t see that a creator would have an obligation to—nor a natural tendency to—leave further evidence that contradicts this evidence. That of course leaves open the question of whether everything that exists is evidence, but just as there is no reason to assume that it is evidence, there is no reason to assume that it is not evidence.

Perhaps those who would require the irrational as evidence of God are simply looking for something new.  We have a tendency of “taking for granted” anything we are very familiar with. We don’t have to remotely understand it, it may even be a wonderful thing, but as long as we have familiarity with it, it’s just “a part of reality,” or even when it’s new, it’s just a part of reality in that it doesn’t blatantly contradict something else in reality, so regardless of the mystery or the glory of many arguably sublime things, such as, say, love, it’s not evidence of a creator because it’s just a part of life. Admittedly, the issue of the implicatory relationships between the concept of a creator and the concept of—for example—love is analytically endless, but a concept of a creator that requires evidence that contradicts natural law is a wrong characterization of God, and it’s hard to imagine what could exist in real life that is a more potent indicator than some of the things that already exists that is not contradictory to natural law.

Any evidence for Christian creationism would contradict natural law.

Some examples of potent indicators of a creator in normal life include existence, life/consciousness, love, compassion, laughter, joy, happiness, art, creativity, peace, order, psi, rainbows, and the general beauty of nature. (I am not saying these examples do necessarily prove the existence of God or a creator, but that that they’re the most potent possible indicators that could exist outside of that which would contradict natural law, and they actually do exist.)

Some things that, if actually deeply and properly understood, would necessarily entail or lead one to more awareness of the spiritual and metaphysical (including God) are these: art; aesthetics; the beauty of the human form and other animals; body language; what makes us laugh; personalities; quantum randomness; and words/language. (The mechanics of how words come into being and become popular, i.e. memetics, operate over the full spectrum of consciousness and awareness, including that which is only subconsciously realized, and that extends well beyond the consciously acknowledged and even the rational. I wrote more about this here: https://philosophy.inhahe.com/2017/02/16/on-the-meanings-of-words/)

Attempts to fully explain any the above things without appealing to anything spiritual are attempts to “explain them away,” as such. “How gibbering man becomes, when he is really clever, and thinks he is giving the ultimate and final description of the universe!  Can’t he see that he is merely describing himself, and that the self he is describing is merely one of the more dead and dreary states that man can exist in?” -D. H. Lawrence.

Conclusion: In this particular case—the case of the existence of God—the lack of evidence (or supposed lack of evidence) is not evidence of lack.

All of the above is just an idea I had that I’m sharing for what it’s worth, though. To be fair, if material reality is a “lower” grade of existence, then perhaps, once In a while, for the good of everything, some of the “higher” grade of existence can “leak in” and cause what we call “a miracle.” (Related: https://philosophy.inhahe.com/2017/02/15/on-the-term-supernatural/.) I do believe, for example, that medical miracles have occurred and there is documentation to prove it. I don’t know if they imply that God “intervenes,” per se; maybe they only evince the power of creation we have in each of us.

In answer to the question, “How can people believe truths without evidence?”

There are many ways of knowing; evidence is just the most base way, perhaps the crudest–or at least it’s crude to staunchly rely exclusively on evidence–although it’s of course the most effective and incontrovertible (except to the degree that evidence can be misinterpreted, of course). This is why so many people feel that they should base their beliefs solely on evidence and nothing more; it’s based in fear, it’s a retraction. There are various causes for this fear and retraction, depending on the individual.

Some are deathly afraid of the possibility of being wrong about something, on a social level. Believing in something without stark evidence could make them vulnerable, because they can’t support their belief in the face of someone who believes something else, probably strictly on the basis of evidence.

Some have seen the way others are often misled and wrong in their beliefs, such as those influenced by religion, popular misconceptions, sources of intentional deception, wishful thinking and other cognitive biases, etc. etc. They conclude that we just can’t know anything for sure except on the basis of evidence.

Some have recognized being wrong in their own thinking, for some of the reasons listed above, and hence fall back to (retract to) believing only what can be proven.

In actuality we believe many many things in daily life that aren’t and can’t be proven, but some people don’t really reflect on it much in their moment-to-moment activities and believe that they believe things only on the base of evidence. And they do, when it comes to the big truths, just not to the more trivial truths. And the characteristic that it takes on when it comes to the big truths is one of denial / rejection by default of anything mysterious, amazing, extraordinary, or potentially paradigm-changing, or that could get them ridiculed for believing in. It’s not simply a state of non-belief or open-mindedness about a given subject prior to the evidence; it’s still biased, just in favor of the status quo and the mundane.

And of course they’re not actually considering all the evidence available. Just like regular people are afraid of getting laughed at, scientists aren’t free to report positive results in parapsychology and the like because those who do get promptly ostracized from the community and thought of as nut-jobs, regardless of the solidity of their data. So those people who believe they’re basing their beliefs on evidence are actually basing their beliefs on the biases of the scientific community, in some areas of belief. The belief that the practice of science is infallible, vis a vis the fact that scientists are merely human in practice, serves only to reinforce some of the prejudices that already exist in society.

But back to the main point..

Some believe that evidence is the only way of knowing things because anything other way of knowing must be psychic, and psychism is axiomatically impossible because it defies the laws of physics. Of course it doesn’t—it just defies some precepts that the type of people who like science (and the scientific community at large) are typically enveloped in. You can’t actually get from the known laws of physics to a proof that something psychic/parapsychological/paranormal can’t happen or that there can’t be some kind of synchronistic, mystical or spiritual correspondance between two things, etc.

Granted, it is hard to know what’s really true that isn’t proven by evidence. People are notoriously bad at surmising such truths, which is why so many people believe so many crazy things and nobody really agrees with each other on anything they can’t touch. But it’s not fair to leap from the inability of most people to correctly surmise truth to a condemnation or just a dismissal of anybody, categorically, who says they know something that isn’t necessarily or wholly based on evidence. Some people are just more astute than others.

We are not isolated collections of neurons exchanging impulses around in our heads, with our only links to the outside world and truth being via our physical senses. On a spiritual and mental level, we are simply connected, like everything is somewhat “embedded” in everything else. And you don’t have to be a bona fide psychic to utilize this facet of the universe, everyone does through inspiration/imagination/”random” thoughts and intuition to some degree, and on a regular basis.

But I make it sound as if the only way of knowing other than via evidence is via psychism. This isn’t strictly the case. You can surmise things, perhaps intuively, based on experience and patterns, connecting the dots in the tapestry, in a way that you could say is ultimately based on evidence (being that it’s based on experience), but that isn’t directly based on evidence in the sense that the conclusion is provable from experience or in the sense that there’s a more-or-less one-to-one correspondence between a piece of evidence, or a formally identified collection of pieces of evidence, and a given fact interpreted from it. It’s modeling, it’s heuristics, it’s induction, it’s varying degrees of liberty in what one might call “jumping to conclusions,” all of which imply degrees of freedom in what’s concluded.

Of course, in reality an intuitive impression is neither all pattern matching nor all psychic, it’s an interplay of the two.

An article which may or may not be relevant to the question, or at least to some of my answer, is “Doubting Doubt,” which was written by a person with an IQ in the top 99.9999 percentile, and can be found in this PDF: http://megasociety.org/noesis/197.pdf