Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lack of Evidence

In my previous post, I compared the evidence for the existence of God with the evidence for the existence of mosquitoes.  I'd like to take that idea a little further and generalize it a bit.

Given the claims that are made about the properties of the Christian God, the overwhelming lack of evidence of its existence provides a strong argument that it doesn't exist at all.  Of course, lack of evidence is not proof of nonexistence.  Until recently, we had no evidence of exoplanets - planets orbiting other stars.  We now have lots of evidence of exoplanets.  They clearly exist.  The difference between exoplanets and a god is that we simply didn't have the proper technology to detect the exoplanets.  According to many Christians, their god is everywhere on Earth, and he is constantly involved with peoples' lives.  We should have ample evidence of his existence.  It's not the case that we're just waiting for someone to build a sufficiently sensitive god-detector, and then, voila, there he will be.

But this blog isn't intended to rehash the arguments of my last blog.  I want to apply the same concept to other supernatural claims.  Let's take psychic powers as an example.  If humans had actually evolved psychic abilities of some sort, then we would expect that there would be lots of people walking around with some level of psychic ability.  In fact, I imagine that psychic ability, say the ability to read minds, would have incredible evolutionary advantage.  Imagine being able to walk into a room and being able to immediately know which person in the room is interested in mating with you.  I'm not talking about the perceptive abilities of a drunken frat boy who thinks that every woman in the room wants to mate with him.  I'm talking about the ability to actually read minds and know what other people want and think.  It would be an incredible advantage in dating, business, and politics.  It would be well known that people with these skills exist and who they are.  In fact, they would likely be so successful in mating and surviving that those genes would quickly be prevalent in the population.  Everyone would have a psychic ability just like everyone has a sense of smell.

Instead, we have people who claim to have psychic abilities and advertise them to con a few bucks off of gullible suckers.  Last year I was walking along the street in the Greektown section of Detroit.  I was directly across the street from the Greektown Casino.  I noticed a sign over a door advertising a Psychic.  Amazing.  Of course, if that person really had psychic abilities, they would just walk across the street into the casino and walk out with a fortune.  Instead, they have set up shop across the street and are preying on the statistically challenged (and obviously reality challenged) customers of the casino.  If this isn't adequate evidence that this person's claimed psychic powers are a fraud, I don't know what is.

You can take this same argument and apply it to lots of claims - Bigfoot, UFOs, alien abductions, cases of autism caused by vaccines, funny Adam Sandler movies, etc.  In all cases, the complete lack of evidence that such a thing exists is very strong evidence that it doesn't exist.  It doesn't prove it, but it's a good first approximation. 

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