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Proof #17 - Think about Leprechauns
Many believers will say, "It is impossible for you to prove that God (Allah, Ra, Vishnu, whatever) does not exist. There is no way to prove that something does not exist." This is a silly argument for the following reason.
Imagine that we have a conversation one day and I say to you, "Today I believe in the gerflagenflopple. You cannot prove that the gerflagenflopple does not exist, therefore it exists." You can see that this is ridiculous. Just because I have invented something out of thin air does not mean that its non-existence is suddenly unprovable. There has to be some evidence, or some reason, that the gerflagenflopple exists in order to assert its existence. Since there is not, it is quite easy to say that the gerflagenflopple is imaginary until such evidence is provided. We also know that the gerflagenflopple was made up on this web page. The word did not exist until created here.
In this way, the gerflagenflopple is like Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer: "Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward." We know Rudolf is fictional, and imaginary, because we can point to the fictional story that is his source.
Now let's imagine that we have a conversation one day and I say to you, "I believe in Leprechauns. You cannot prove that Leprechauns do not exist, therefore they exist." You actually have heard of Leprechauns. There are lots of books, movies and fairy tales dealing with Leprechauns. People talk about Leprechauns all the time. Leprechauns even have a popular brand of breakfast cereal. A page like this describes/defines the traits of Leprechauns. But that does not mean that Leprechauns exist.
If you read the folklore around Leprechauns, you realize that certain aspects are impossible. For example, Leprechauns are defined to be beings who keep a crock of gold at the end of a rainbow. But anyone who understands rainbows knows that there is not a geographic location associated with rainbows. Rainbows are not physical objects, but instead are optical phenomena dependent on an observer. Therefore rainbows do not have fixed X/Y locations for their ends on the ground. This is the problem with the Leprechaun legend - Leprechauns have a property that is impossible, and therefore we can say that Leprechauns do not exist. There is no "end" to any rainbow, and therefore no pots of gold located at such a point, and therefore no Leprechauns. They are as imaginary as the gerflagenflopple.
Is there something that would prove Leprechauns to be real? First, we would need to change the definition of Leprechauns. We would have to drop the "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" part of the definition, because that part is impossible. But if we do that, we are not talking about Leprechauns anymore. This is another way to know that Leprechauns are imaginary.
Another imaginary thing that, like Leprechauns, we hear quite a bit about in our culture is the story of Noah and his Ark. How do we know that the Noah's Ark story is imaginary?
If you think about it, you will realize that there is no difference between God and Leprechauns. Lots of people talk about God as though he exists, but there is no actual evidence for God's existence. And there should be, because there are many positive claims in the definition of God. For example:
Here is a second way to look at the same question.
With every other object and phenomenon in our experience, we use the scientific method to determine whether it exists or not. For example, X rays are invisible, but we know that they exist. We can devise scientific experiments to prove that they exist. Then, once proven to exist, X-rays can be used predictably in all sorts of beneficial ways.
If you would like to hypothesize that God exists, then you should say to yourself, "Let's devise a repeatable scientific experiment to provide evidence that God exists." Every experiment we devise demonstrates, yet again, that God is imaginary. This page provides a simple example of such an experiment - if God were real, we should be able to have him to appear as described in the Bible.
Isn't it odd that God, unlike everything else in our universe, has been put into a special category? When we talk about God, we are supposed to do so "philosophically." Why? Why not treat God just like all other objects and devise experiments to detect his presence or absence?
The classic religious response is, "God must remain hidden. If he proved his existence, that would take away faith." This is clever -- here we have an object named God that proves its existence by completely hiding its existence. Of course, in the real world, any object that provides no evidence for its existence is classified as imaginary.
Even more interesting, this object called God, which is supposedly hiding its existence completely, is in the meantime supposedly writing books, answering prayers and incarnating itself. How can that be? This obvious contradiction shows how imaginary God is. When we look at prayer scientifically, we find that "answered prayers" are actually nothing but coincidences. When we look at the Bible scientifically, ethically or rationally, we find that the Bible is wrong. When we look at all of Jesus' miracles scientifically, we find that none of them left behind any scientific or historical evidence. Nor, for that matter, did Jesus, nor did Jesus' resurrection. Strangely, not a single historical source independent of the Bible ever mentions the resurrection.
There is a famous saying: "Absence of evidence is not evidence of Absence." And that is true sometimes. But in many cases the statement is not true. As we saw with Noah's Ark, the event would have necessarily left evidence behind in many different forms and places. Therefor, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence in this case. God suffers from the same type of problem. God is defined, for example, as a prayer answering being. We can easily demonstrate that the belief in prayer is a superstition. That contradiction shows God to be imaginary.
The reason why we can find no empirical evidence for God's existence is not because "God is a magical being completely able to hide from us." It is because God is imaginary.
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