Pharyngula

They’re all still arguing against me!

Ever since I ferociously asserted that god was not only dead, but never existed and never will exist, and that no amount of hand-waving speculation will convince me otherwise, those thuggish provisionalists have been gunning for me. Jerry Coyne tried, and now Greta Christina pounds on me, trying to convince me I’m wrong. They’re not succeeding.

I’m merely being honest here. I read Greta Christina’s list of events that would convince her, and I have to say that none of them would sway me. They’d convince me that there are unexplainable phenomena and beings greater than myself, but I already believe that with no problem and without budging from atheism. I’ve already dealt with the 900 foot tall Jesus fallacy (it’s not a prior conclusion of religious thought), and while finding amazingly detailed scientific information in a holy book would be impressive, evidence of beings in the past who were smarter than me isn’t evidence of a god. Also, they haven’t because they didn’t, so postulating circumstances that have been shown not to have occurred is only persuasive in the most abstract and imaginary way possible. I suppose you could postulate that I would be rich if my fabulously wealthy great-aunt had left me her billions in her will, except of course that I didn’t have a fabulously wealthy great-aunt.

Sorry, guys, you’ve failed. Your arguments haven’t even touched my premises.

But wait! There’s another challenger, that sneaky, devious, underhanded, philosophizing gadfly, John Wilkins. I don’t think he’s even trying to address what I was arguing, and he’s snuck in an interesting possibility. He calls it the Greek Panthon test, and he’s basically defining “god” as something with the possibility of existence, unlike the usual ethereal all-pervasive omniscient omnipotent eternal entity that we’ve been indoctrinated to accept as the only true kind of god in our culture. His definition is simple: If it would be a god in the Greek Pantheon, then it’s a god. So capricious, cranky beings with human-like qualities but just a little more oomph and privilege than your average vanilla human, creatures with something that would look to us like super-powers, are all gods.

So angels and saints are all gods, and Christianity becomes a polytheistic religion. Batman is a god. The Easter Bunny is a god. Babe Ruth is probably a god now. Tiger Woods might be a god, but I think the convention is that deifications tend to happen after some isolation from mundane testability, i.e. death.

So I think I’d concede that if you provide a sufficiently trivial definition of a god (but only trivial in the sense that it is probably the most common and most universal understanding of what a god is, anyway!), then you would be able to come up with evidence that would convince me of the existence of that specific being. The requirements for this being, though, would have to be sufficiently loose and achievable that you’d also end up redefining most atheists as polytheists, and you’d probably also piss off all the believers who would be even more peeved at the lumpers who diminish the exclusivity of their pantheon than they are with the atheists who simply say their pantheon is false.