Evidently That Isn’t Evidence

January 2012

in Self-awareness

Back in my high school days I struggled with the issue of the existence of God. At one point I determined there was little evidence that God, if he existed, was actively involved in our lives. So I ended up with belief in a non-interventionist God – a God that existed, perhaps did the initial ‘push’ to get the universe started, but was otherwise uninterested in the activities of human life.

One day it struck me – I don’t remember where the thought came from – that my belief in a non-interventionist God implied that there was no evidence in the universe that he did or did not exist. If God didn’t intervene in any way, there was no intervening to observe. In other words, my belief provided no way to verify itself! Here I had decided that it was impossible to ‘observe’ God, yet continued to believe that God existed. Why was that?

It turns out I did not have a good reason to believe God existed, I merely believed that I ought to believe in God.

That didn’t feel right. It felt a little forced. Why lean a certain way? Why believe I ought to believe anything at all? Obviously, you ought to believe something if the evidence is there, if you have good reasons. But believing that you ought to believe something, merely because you ought to… that seemed silly!

I dropped the belief, and went looking for something better.

It wasn’t explicitly obvious at the time, but it’s clear now that the other reason my belief was flawed was because my anticipations were the same regardless of whether the belief was true or not. Observering no intervention by God wasn’t only evidence that a non-interventionist God existed, because it can equally be used explain that there is no God.

If evidence can be used to defend your belief and the opposite belief, it is not evidence!