And when they’re asked what evidence they have, how do believers respond?
In my conversations with religious believers, I’ll often ask, “Why do you think God or the supernatural exists? What makes you think this is true? What evidence do you have for this belief?” Partly I’m just curious; I want to know why people believe what they do. Plus I think it’s a valid question: it’s certainly one I’d ask about any other claim or opinion. And if I’m wrong about my atheism — if there’s good evidence for religion that I haven’t seen yet — I want to know. I’m game. Show me the money.
But when I ask these questions, I almost never get a straight answer.
What I typically get is a startling assortment of conversational gambits deflecting the question.
I get excuses for why believers shouldn’t have to provide evidence. Vague references to other people who supposedly have evidence, without actually pointing to said evidence. Irrelevant tirades about mean atheists. Venomous anger at how disrespectful and intolerant I am to even ask the question.
Today, I want to chronicle some of these conversational gambits. I want to point out their logical flaws. I want to point out the fiendishly clever ways that they armor religion against the expectation — a completely reasonable expectation, an expectation we have about every other kind of claim — that it back itself up with evidence.
And I want to talk about why believers resort to them.
Thus begins my new blog post up at AlterNet, Hey Religious Believers, Where’s Your Evidence? In it, I point out some of the specific ways religious believers dodge the simple question, “Why do you believe what you believe?” I point out the holes in these arguments, and point out how they aren’t actually arguments — they’re simply armor against the entirely reasonable expectation that religion support its claims with evidence. And I talk about why, exactly, believers resort to these deflective gambits, instead of just explaining why they believe what they believe.
This is the fourth in a four-part series about atheism I’m writing for AlterNet. I’ll be reprinting all these pieces here on my own blog eventually; in the meantime, enjoy this one on AlterNet!