Ever since I read the Quran for the first time, I knew that there are only two discoveries that were demanded of its addressee by its author: One, he discovers the fundamental characteristics of his creator on his own; and two, that he discovers that there is a day of judgment for him. The first one the author wanted to be discovered from a combination of ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Evidentiary Reasoning’; while the second one: as a consequence of the first one. Hence, actually it was just one demand: that he discovers ‘the’ God; the other one just flowed from it.
To this day, I have always thought that my nature, coupled with evidence spread all around me, has always vindicated the verity of the God of the Quran.
Then I came to know that there are people in this World who have claimed that there is another ‘fundamental’ question, that precedes this discovery exercise. Namely: How do we know there is a God, or Gods?
My first reaction to this was nonchalance. I thought to myself that asking absurd questions is a human condition, which to my knowledge, is irrepressible. After all, assuming a creator for creation was only the most obvious and reasonable assumption. So I shrugged it off thinking it was just a fad, would never attain any traction, and would fizzle out with time alone. I know that most theists do think and act the same way, still.
I too still believe that my initial analysis of the problem was correct. My response, however, was not. Because what I discovered later on was that many, if not most, very intelligent and genius people, some even scientists no less, have so ardently started believing there is no God(s) that they have started flaunting it around in a triumphant fashion as the only reasonable position: to an extent that some of them have started rubbishing the intellects of those who believe in any sort of deity.
I was introduced to this trashiness when I started following Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins on twitter; two authors I have come to admire for their writing prowess, while one of them I dearly adore. While both of them generally conduct themselves in a befitting manner on twitter, their followers and acolytes do not. They think that since they have realized an obvious ‘illogicality’ in the theistic approach, they have somehow acquired the right to ridicule all theists. Because, and reasonably so, if blatant-absurdity is something you are targeting, ridicule might not only be a just device, but also a fruitful one.
The question these new-atheists are brandishing in this escapade is ‘What is the Evidence for God’? A question that was most profoundly explicated in ‘The God Delusion’ and ‘End of Faith’. In the latter, Sam Harris has perhaps organized the most compelling groundwork to legitimize this question. Richard Dawkins too has had millions of copies of his book sold that deals with this question from various angles. But Sam’s work, to me, is more academically sound and seminal. Not to mention its sublime literary excellence. In fact, the following discussion will make much more sense if readers have gone through ‘The Nature of Belief’ from Sam’s book. Although both these authors’ books have perhaps unwittingly most often dealt with the issues of ‘a God’ of a particular religion, and seldom ‘God’ as a concept, but there is some pretty gripping stuff on the latter therein, nonetheless.
The predicate of the question is a very logical one: i.e. without evidence, no belief should be or can be entertained. In fact, I concede unapologetically, it is a principle to live by. Add to this my endorsements that belief should fulfil everything Sam says in ‘The Nature of Belief’; and evidence should be everything both authors outline. I totally agree with them on accounts of prerequisites of ‘belief’ and ‘evidence’ as they state. Therefore, it must be recognized, the question is predicated on firm grounds.
You must’ve read or heard somewhere about the concept of ‘burden of proof’. The concept states that “the proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies a fact cannot produce any proof.” Prima facie, it seems that the proposers of the aforementioned question are only applying this logical maxim – which is obviously an unassailable expression of reality about the world we live in. More so, it is something that is explicitly stated by many atheists like Dawkins, or is clearly implied in comparisons and analogies with unicorns or celestial teapots, that many atheists strike. So, according to this logic – which I confess is undeniable – the questioners challenge that since believers are the ones affirming that there is a God, and they are merely but denying, hence the burden of proof lies on the believers. And consequently they logically ask: Where’s that evidence? It might seem, and has seemed, like a done-deal to many. But it’s not! Instead, it is an ideal case depicting usage of a perfectly valid logical device in a manner that is fundamentally flawed.
Let me highlight the manifest flaw by example. Let’s say somebody comes to you and says that aliens exist. Surely you’ll ask for evidence. In doing so, wittingly or unwittingly, you’ll be applying the same principle. He is making a claim that aliens exist: he is the affirmer. You are merely denying to accept his claim: you are the denier. The burden of proof therefore resides on the affirmer, not the denier. Very well!
Now take another example. Let’s say somebody comes to you and says he was born without a father. You say, no, you must have a father. Who is the affirmer and who is the denier? Although that someone is merely denying that he has a father and you are affirming that he has a father, for the purposes of this maxim, however, that someone is the ‘affirmer’ and you are the denier. This means that he has to prove his claim, not you. But why?
You see ‘affirmer’ and ‘denier’ are two variables in this maxim. What goes into each has to be carefully considered, for these variables do not represent ‘linguistic values’, but ‘logic values’. What this means is that a person can be an affirmer in the linguistic sense of the word, yet he would be the denier in the logical sense. As we saw in the 2nd example above, the person affirming that he did not have any father was actually the denier, although he was making a claim and we were actually denying it.
So how do we define who is the affirmer and who is the denier. Anybody who makes a claim that is out of the ordinary, contrary to our normative experiences of this world, conflicting with our intellects or things we know as facts…is the affirmer. Anybody who is denying to accept such an irrational claim is the denier. The denier, therefore, has every right to ask for evidence before he can accede to the claim, whereas the affirmer is under burden to provide that proof. The maxim, thus, is not on an even keel. It is already inclined towards the denier to begin with.
I hope I have made myself clear. Hence, when some atheists brandish this claim that ‘there is no God’, linguistically they might be merely the deniers; but as we have understood from the discussion above, logically they are the affirmers. They are making an out of the ordinary, unusual, in fact preposterous, claim. Of course, they can claim such a thing provided they have evidence. But it is undeniably so that it is they who have to produce the evidence. But since this argument would amount to a nemesis of their brandished logic, let us discuss it further so that its reasonability is explicated.
As humans, what does our experience say about this world! Do created things demand a creator(s)? I don’t think it even needs an answer: it’s a no-brainer. And when I say created, it simply means anything that comprises of a combination of the most basic and smallest units of matter (overlooking the issue of the smallest units itself), that has a distinct time of coming into existence. We humans ourselves do it every day. And thanks to science, have exceedingly become able to create the most complex of machines humanity could not even have imagined. And every time we create a better or more complicated machine, anybody who has even half a brain can attest to the quality of its creator(s). The more complex a machine, the better and more intelligent the creator(s). The more ingenious a production process devised, the better and more intelligent the creator(s) must be. These assumptions are automatic and like clock-work.
But let’s tone our intelligence way down for confirming the proposition I wish to highlight in this article. Let’s say by looking at a thing, we were unable to say anything about the intelligence of its creator. I mean think of us (and some of the most prolific scientists of yester years) as dumb or something. Still the fact that anything must have a creator, an initiator, is a factual assumption that comes to us rationally as human beings. Otherwise, people unearthing paintings from excavations or anything, would be seen debating the evidence for the mere existence of any painter, before starting to look for one. Though there do exist such a people, that if that painting acquired life, and started walking the earth, suddenly some inexplicable ‘logic’ would ‘inherently demand’ that there be no painter by default!
It is a human precept that everything in this universe that is visible or realizable to us through any means, must have a creator(s). If somebody thinks this is somehow patently illogical, and is contrary to factual human experience, is an affirmer: apart from being eligible to be tested for insanity. Of course, logically, given the right amount of evidence, he can show that no creator is required for this universe. But the fact that he is an affirmer – introducing humanity to a new, exotic and unique proposition – is undeniable. Because anybody who says that things come into existence of their own volition, without the need for external force(s) as actor(s), is claiming something we as human beings are absolutely stranger to.
Sadly but surely, there will be people who’ll hurl ‘Evolution’ as a counter to this discussion. But the moment someone does that, you should come to know that that someone has below average intelligence. Why? Because that would be a discussion of which concept better explains the existence of things around us. It can by no means show that assuming things to have creator(s) (intelligent or not) as a default is somehow manifestly unreasonable and against human experience: that too to an extent that demands ridicule and contempt. It wouldn’t even be enough to obviate the need for creator(s) or initiator(s). Remember, god particle!
Anyhow, there can logically be a million of ways that it might be shown that there is no need for God(s) in order to explain the existence of things around and including us; and I make no exception for ‘evolution’; But know, that all these ways and explanations would need tremendous amount of evidence to tilt the already tilted away keel into the Godless advocates’ direction. Committing the blunder of declaring the person who considers creator(s) necessary for creation as affirmer, and others as deniers, could only be done by the people most deserving our pity and contempt.
To close my article with a further fillip, let me very briefly reply to Bertrand Russell’s parable of the celestial teapot, quoted as an analogy by Richard Dawkins in ‘The God Delusion’. Sir, if there was a celestial teapot between every two planets of the universe; if that was all humanity was familiar with and accepted as the norm; would the burden of proof still lie on the person claiming there is one between Earth and Mars?? Overlooking the inherent flaws in the comparison of God and a celestial teapot, of course!
Hence, as I mentioned in the beginning, when I shrugged this claim off with nonchalance, it was because it was the most necessary assumption, based on human experience, vindicated by human intellect, and fulfilling all aspects of human reason, that it was the only candidate eligible to be considered as the default assumption.
I would love to see any atheist, new or old, correct me by saying that evidence must be provided for God(s) as the default option, and not against, because there is something inherently irrational to assume a creator for creation. Believe you me, despite the fact that a fundamental shift in the human experience would be required in such a scenario, I shall amend my views without a moment’s hesitation. Please, though, do not respond with the arguments that correspond with whether a particular conception of God in a particular religion is evidentially reasonable or not; for then you shall only be exposing the fact that you didn’t understand a word of this article.
Next time an atheist ridicules anybody who believes there must be one or many creator(s) of this universe invoking irrationality, don’t forget to refer him/her to this article; after questioning his logical skills vehemently, that is. Next time an atheist questions the intellect of an absolute majority of mankind throughout generations in believing there was a creator(s), I am sure you’ll remember that you must not indulge into a debate with stupid people. Because all they’ll do is bring you down to their level, and beat you with experience!