Your evidence for god doesn’t mean what you think it means. A lesson in circular reasoning.

Another short one because I don’t really have time to write. The other day I saw a funny meme that mocked atheists… I can’t find it now; the closest similar image I can find is this:

head-in-the-sand_zpsf0805f8e

The one I’m thinking of was divided into two sections vertically; the top showing “evidence of God” and the bottom showing the atheist “response” to that evidence, which was somebody similar to the image above, sticking his head in the sand, presumably meaning atheists are in denial of this godly evidence that’s right in front of us.

The evidence of god in the meme was two photos of sunsets (or one sunset and something else – something about the sky with some clouds and shit). Of course the meme is funny for the wrong reasons.

  1. An image of a sunset is not evidence of god. It’s evidence of a sunset.
  2. Whether I ignore your evidence or appreciate a beautiful sunset doesn’t matter – because your reinterpreting a sunset to be evidence of god doesn’t make it so. It’s still only a fucking sunset.
  3. Thus the meme is funny because it reveals an implicit assumption going on in the mind of a theist. An assumption that highlights circular reasoning.

If you want to rationalize things to be evidence of god, you need to understand that there is something going on in your brain, and only in your brain, giving those things their godly significance.

It is only because you assume implicitly that god exists (implicitly as in, you do not recognize that you start with this assumption), that you can take any of the things that you assume he created as being evidence of his existence. So you’re saying, “I believe that God created these things. Therefore these things are evidence that God exists, because He created them.” This is the same as using the Bible, or the Quran, or the Torah, as proof of god’s existence. What you’re saying then is, “I believe this text was written by God. Therefore this text is evidence of God because God wrote it.” Both examples can be summarized by, “I believe in God because I believe in God.” That’s circular reasoning.

Circular reasoning is a type of logical fallacy where you start with your conclusion. Stated as I have done in the two examples above, it becomes clear that the arguments are wrong, since the premise itself requires proof, which is not provided, but also the premise is the conclusion. It’s less obvious when argued by a theist because the premise is assumed and not directly stated (or maybe not stated at all). So a real-world example of this argument in an online  debate would be stated more like “Here is evidence of God”. (Insert picture of sunset, or kitten, or DNA helix, or eyeball. Or something.) The second argument would just be a few verses of the Bible or Quran, for example, as if those words prove something. Interestingly, neither the premise nor the conclusion are stated; both are implied. (This is one of those “arguments” that isn’t really a valid argument at all, yet any atheist who debates online comes across it every day. And it is without doubt why many atheists regard theists as stupid. One can only refute the same idiotic argument so many times.)

If a god actually existed, surely it would have revealed itself to us in a way that was unambiguous? Surely it would reveal itself in such a way that every man, woman and child knew that this was God? Then there would be no need to have different religions and nobody would need to rationalize and reinterpret other things to be evidence of God. But that hasn’t happened because there is no god.


Aside: The sticking the head in the sand joke, by the way, is based on a fallacy. Ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand.

Another aside: The mind-boggling thing about these circular arguments is that they are independent of the theist’s professed god. (I really wanted to say “agnostic of” but the ironic use of “agnostic” made the word salad distasteful. A pity.) The same circular arguments are used by various theists. As an atheist who partakes in online debates, I often have to refute rantings and ravings about Allah, by someone who believes just as strongly in Islam as my own family believe in Christianity. I’d never have to deal with that as a Christian, yet since I do not profess faith in any god, I can’t prioritize one religion’s nonsense over another. While in every theist’s mind their particular god is the only god to consider when they present a generic argument for the existence of “god”, their gods are the same, and apologists for different religions often use identical weak arguments. As an atheist, I now see them all in perspective.

A last edit: Since theists who participate in online debates often make either these types of circular reasoning arguments, or other generic arguments, but only ever consider their own particular god when making these arguments, you’d think that reminding them that their argument could be applied equally to many other religions, and asking them to provide evidence that their god (Allah for example) is real while another (Jesus for example) is not, would help them see reality. But it doesn’t help. After the obvious is stated to most such theists, they either exit the debate silently, or state their true (illogical) cases, like “My God is eternal; those other gods are false because it says so in [insert holy book]”, or “You atheists must repent or suffer eternal hellfire”. The pretense of rationality is abandoned… and they will have the same argument with someone else tomorrow, having learned nothing.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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4 Responses to Your evidence for god doesn’t mean what you think it means. A lesson in circular reasoning.

  1. bbnewsab says:

    Circular arguments and an inability to see contradictions (like God’s plan of creation is built on a deterministic foundation, while the important concept of free will is almost the antithesis thereof).

    When reading and taking part of your brilliant observations, Jerome, I must conclude that theists and their silly arguments are the same all over the world (as you may remember I’m living in Sweden, in northern Europe, in a so-called secular country, but I see/hear the same type of theistic arguments being used here)..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      Yup, I think they are. My favourite Facebook group is called “atheists in reality vs delusional believers”… The owner of the group is in Sweden, and members are from all over. The arguments are the same, no matter where they come from, although there are always an abundance of Nigerian theists posting gibberish there.

      Funny though… I’m not referring to anything from that group today. “Prove that there isn’t a god”, that misunderstanding of the burden of proof, seems to be a common approach by theists everywhere. And about 2 days ago someone asked what we would accept as evidence of a South African Atheists group. I’m in quite a few skeptic and atheist groups, and the arguments of theists are definitely the same no matter where they’re from. In fact they’re so universal, I’ve noted that the more intelligent theists simply ask more elaborate or sophisticated versions of the same questions. There are no good apologetics arguments… just the same old ones phrased differently. The more sophisticated ones “disguise” themselves better, in their verbosity and their eloquence, but the underlying assumptions, poor arguments and logical fallacies are the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bbnewsab says:

    Yes, it’s the same procedure as last year. As every year. All the same.

    Which reminds me of this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boisQwkK7rs . Have you seen it before, Jerome?

    Liked by 2 people

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