And again it goes:
“I’ll challenge an atheist to disprove the existence of God and instead of arguments against theism or for atheism I get some variation of, “No, YOU prove there IS a God!”
Atheists! Listen up!
You guys are and always have been in the minority. It has ever been the responsibility of the minority position to have to make its case for validity. The majority position, whether you like it or not [and no one’s saying you do], enjoys the advantage of only having to defend itself against specific objections [or to offer up responses given by challengers]. The minority position, on the other hand, is forced to make its case for superiority over the existing majority, unless of course it prefers to slip into obscurity and irrelevance.
Now, a lot of popular “literature” by fols like Dawkins, Hitchens and that other rude fellow who’s name I’ve [happily] forgotten may give you the impression that atheism enjoys some upper hand, or that it enjoys the upper hand at least amongst educated folk. This is a lovely smokescreen. Stephen Jay Gould did us all a favor of being intellectually honest enough to admit that theistic scienists are at least as common as atheistic scientists. Outside academia, atheism is a decided minority.
Of course, atheists leap at this disparity of disbelief amongst intelligentsia versus the general public and add the non sequitur that the more educated we become the less likely we are to believe in God. This ignores the politics and peer pressure special interest groups may weild. A minority, if vocal, zealous and focused enough, may take over an institution and impose itself upon the majority. Once in key positions it may deny those with opposing views equal opoortunities for advancement, acclaim or simple expression. This has been the case in the universities over the past century. Scientists with theistic theories of origins are largely denied peer review and then their work is decried as not being peer reviewed! Theists are even denied positions in universities for holding THE MAJORITY OPINION of the Earth, that God exists and created the world. In the world of print, Dawkins is particularly vocal in brow beating those who stray from atheistic fundamentalism. They are not winning their argument. They are simply muzzling the opposition. The irony is that despite their usurped monopoly on higher education, attempts indoctrinate new generations in their atheistic dogma have largely failed. The statistics are not much changed. Atheism is still a minority.
So sorry about your luck.
Now, the “No, YOU prove there IS a God!” argument usually invokes a Flying Spaghetti Monster, an Invisible Pink Unicorn or Russell’s Teapot. They’re allclever and they’re all flawed.
The Noodly One deserves especial scorn for it is not so much an argument against theism as against the notion of theistic origins. It has commonalities with the other straw man arguments in that it presupposes no rational, philosophical or scientific basis of any sort for the theistic position. All of these straw man arguments presuppose that religious belief, like the belief in God, is purest superstition that no modern thinking man could ever countenance if he were intellectually honest.
And so the argument is made thus:
We say, “Disprove the existence of God.”
They say, “Disprove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Invisible Pink Unicorns, or Russell’s Teapot, or Dragons, or Fairies, or Leprechauns!”
I’ll say it again: They’re simply repeating our objection back to us. We believe it is impossible to either prove or disprove God’s existence. THAT is our point, but what makes it a straw man is that is is NOT our ENTIRE point.
We do note that it would be impossible to rule out God’s existence unless one knew everything, but we also note that in the end you must believe in God. Again, it cannot be aither proven or disproven. But is it based on blind faith? No, it is not. It is based on a weight of evidences and testimonies.
Bertrand Russell partially addressed testimonies with his Teapot analogy. He noted that if an unprovable, undetectable teapot were also taught as truth out of ancient authority texts, in Sunday Schools and to our children that a man who believed otherwise would be looked upon as an eccentric. I should note that his analogy can be turned upon its head, for nontheistic Darwinism is being taught as truth to our children in our schools and univeristies out of textbooks referring back to the musty text called Origins. It, being a process which takes hideous amounts of time to evolve a species into another kind of creature entirely, is unprovable and undetectable. Scientists may say that this minor mutation or that adaptation is evidence of transition in action, but they are only presuming evolution to be true and presuming that these adaptations and mutations will someday far away lead to such a transition. I digress.
What we are saying when we challenge an atheist to disprove God’s existence is NOT simply that God’s existence can neither be proven nor disproven. We are also saying that atheism [God’s nonexistence] cannot be either proven or disproven. It is however evident that God does exist. The complex, inter-related order and design of the universe, the existence of universal moral law with its inherent sense of justice and a host of other things [like personal experience, reason, philosophy, beauty and meaning] are compelling reasons to believe.
The atheist can give little reason to believe that the universe accientally came to be in such a way that intelligent life searches for meaning yet reasons that neither God nor meaning exists. I digress.
The atheist loves to throw out leprechauns and fantastical creatures of myth, folklore and legend alongside its own creations [for the hypocrites do not actually profess to believe in invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters or undetectable teapots,except with tongue firmly in cheek] and then compare such a belief with a belief in God.
Note: They do illustrate that it’s actually impossible to prove or disprove God’s existence.
By throwing out objections like pasta monsters, invisible unicorns and undetectable teapots, they are ADMITTING this! They are conceding the point.
Note Also: They do not address whether it is more reasonable to believe or disbelieve in God, given the available evidence.
For more on the Flying Spaghetti Monster, read this: Why the Only Rational Atheist is an Oxymoron