by Shandon Guthrie
In this exchange I will be defending two major contentions: (1) There is no good evidence to suggest that God does not exist, and (2) There is good evidence to favor the view that God does exist. Upon compliance with Daniel Adams, we will be addressing this important debate from differing views on the matter. Adams comes from the atheist conviction and, as such, makes a claim to knowledge. So he is simply mistaken when he says, "the burden of proof lies upon the positive claimant." This is disconfirmed by philosophers who understand basic epistemological principles underlying the Burden of Proof. If Adams were correct in this claim then that would mean that statements that are negative claims would never have the burden of producing any evidence. Think about it. This would mean that claims like "Death does not exist" or "The geocentric cosmology is not true" would automatically possess a greater balance of truth value ex hypothesi. Instead, philosophers have suggested that the notion of prior probability, or the notion that a claim has a degree of initially accepted concepts, is the antecedent to the burden of proof. In other words, the reason why a claim like "Death does not exist" or "The heliocentric cosmology is not true" must be defended is because the claims themselves are generally rejected by a general consensus. In the context of God, despite the overwhelming acceptance of theism as the better view, we can, for the sake of an academic debate, posit that the consensus is inconclusive. Thus each of us must defend our claim. Now we can begin to examine the evidence for atheism and for theism.
(1) THERE IS NO GOOD EVIDENCE TO FAVOR ATHEISM AS TRUE
When we look at the statement made by Adams about why atheism is true, he simply suggests that theism is not true and, thus, compels us to believe that atheism is true on that basis. But Adams fails to realize that arguments for God's existence may fail, but it does not follow that other arguments or beliefs about God's existence are false. In the movie Contact, the scientist (played by Jodi Foster) experiences an event unconfirmed by the physical evidence. But she (along with the audience) really experienced the event despite the physical evidence. Is she then committed to denying her experience because the available evidence does not point in her favor? Of course not. Therefore, Adams has to provide us with some reasons why he thinks atheism is the better world view.
(2) ONE GOOD REASON TO SUGGEST THAT THEISM IS TRUE
When we ask the questions, "Where did the universe come from?" and "Why does the universe exist instead of just nothing?", we are left with two possible options. (i) The universe is infinite, or (ii) The universe began to exist. But when we consider that infinity minus infinity results in self-contradictory answers, then we have no reason to think that the infinite is anywhere in existence. This includes an actual infinite in time as well as space. Therefore, it seems that (ii) is vindicated. Indeed, modern cosmology has confirmed this in the accepted Big Bang model of the universe. This means that the universe began from a singular point that entailed both the origin of time as well as space. But since things just do not pop into existence uncaused out of nothing, then there must have been a cause for its existence. Given this discovery of the evidence, it seems clear that theism is true.
So far, we have seen no good evidence to favor atheism. But I have provided good evidence to suggest that theism is true. In order for Adams to prevail in his upcoming critiques, he has to do more than just attack my position. He must erect a positive case of his own more convincing than theism. Unless he does this, then the evidence favors theism as the best world view.