What is evidence?

It has not occurred to me that the meaning of evidence was ever in contention until a few days ago. The great antagonizer has asked this question on his blog.  Debilis, who we have already met and Mark Hamilton have also written articles on the same and the two of them ask what do we want as evidence for god.

I know this post will not deal completely and exhaustively with this question but will attempt to answer some of the questions the three bloggers have raised and hopefully help us in moving the conversation forward.

To deal with this problem, I am going to start by giving definitions then proceed to point out where I think they are wrong.

Definition from Merriam Webster

1 a : an outward sign : indication

b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically :something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter

: one who bears witness; especially: one who voluntarily confesses a crime and testifies for the prosecution against his accomplices
From oxforddictionaries.com
the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid
and from dictionary.reference.com

noun

1.that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
2.something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.
3.Law. data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.

verb (used with object)

4.to make evident or clear; show clearly; manifest: He evidenced his approval by promising his full support.
5.to support by evidence: He evidenced his accusation with incriminating letters.
First, we look at Debilis’ claims
When the statement is made, it would seem to mean that there is no scientific evidence that God exists. Whether or not that is true, the idea that there is no physical evidence for the non-physical is hardly mind-blowing. Rather, it is a simple category error. It has no more weight than saying that there is no mathematical proof that Winston Churchill was the Prime minister of Great Britain, or that there is no grammatical evidence of cosmic expansion.
There are historical records, photographic records and video reels that confirm a Winston Churchill was Prime Minister of Great Britain. These information can be corroborated independently from newspaper articles, magazines and books on British or World History. The same can’t be said of Debilis’ god. No one is asking for physical evidence, that would be a bonus though, all we ask is for any evidence. You must be all aware of a study done a few years back to study the efficacy of intercessory prayer, whether this can be proof for god is for you to decide. What non-physical has the theist offered as proof that their god exist? I think there are many reasons to believe we live in an atheistic universe than a world managed by an all-powerful benevolent master. The presence of any form of natural evil is evidence against the existence of a god that is absolutely benevolent!
He[I hope am correct on this] goes on to say
But, taken more broadly, the claim is simply false. That is, if the claim is taken broadly enough to be relevant to metaphysical issues such as God’s existence, then the metaphysical arguments for God’s existence is such evidence.
This statement makes no sense. The use of metaphysical here is to make the arguments look more than just arguments which they are. The metaphysical arguments, I believe this are the logical arguments for the existence of god, have been refuted and any one keen on apologetics would know this unless they present new arguments and we will be waiting to refute them. The theist has not defined god coherently so that to prove that such a thing can exist is even problematic. The discussion collapses even before it can lift its ass off the ground.
We can debate whether or not the evidence is sufficient, but the bold declaration that there is no evidence for God’s existence is simply out of touch with the facts.
What facts could these be? Is it that atheists have chosen to be blind to these facts. Why then do we still have apologists? In fact, why would we need apologists to defend god, an all-powerful and all-knowing being/non being [I don’t know the one theists prefer]? Don’t any of you think that if this god is what is claimed of it, we would have at least have had an appearance to answer the doubting Thomases once every so often. Any theist claiming this would not be good for us has not read Genesis where god visits with Abe for BBQ and clean up but find nothing wrong with it. If it was fine then, it must be more than urgent now!
Mark on his part starts by asking a question
Can you prove that I have a liver?
Yes, all mammals have been found to have livers so we don’t need to operate on you to confirm this and should you be found to not have one, it would be a serious birth defect and everything will be done to get you one. So this is what the Buddha would call a useless question.
He continues to argue
For many people this is the kind of evidence they want when asking “Is there a God?” They want something they can see and smell and experiment on.
This is simply not true. I can’t experiment on Cicero but I have sufficient reason/evidence to believe he existed. Empirical evidence is just one type of evidence. Looking at the definitions of evidence I gave at the beginning of this post, is there any where the theist has passed the test? Maybe I missed this evidence, whoever has it could be kind enough to share 😀
Mark proceeds to tell us
And it’s true, I do take it on faith that God exists. I don’t have empirical evidence for God. I also don’t have empirical evidence for the existence of my liver.
Then am accused of hypocrisy when I point out that faith requires belief even when one has no evidence. He would be dead if he didn’t have a liver. So to compare the two is to commit a fallacy of false analogy.
From here, our apologist jumps to the cosmological arguments for god and argues as William Lane Craig that an infinite regress of creators is logically impossible and then presents the statement of his argument thus

1. All things that come into existence have a creator.

2. Things exist.

3. Therefore, something must exist that has always existed.

After saying this he proceeds immediately to tell us

Now this does not prove the existence of God. But it does show that somewhere there must be an eternal and uncreated Something that everything else is based on.

Even if this were true, it does not answer whether it was one god, a bazillion gods and whether such gods are still alive today.

Nobody has ever observed, weighed, measured, or tested something that by necessity has always existed. It would be impossible to observe something to have always existed unless the observer has also always existed as well.

I don’t know, but how does this statement support his cause? He claims to have evidence for god, has he [Mark] always existed or how did he come by this evidence?

He ends his piece thus

 However we still can reasonably believe in it’s existence despite the impossibility of ever finding empirical evidence for it. I have faith in God’s existence the same way I have faith in my liver’s existence: confidently and reasonably without need of empirical evidence.

I definitely need help here. What is reasonable here, I must have missed it somewhere so friends please help. No your having faith in having liver is supported by many things, for example that you can take a piss, that you are not dead and more specifically because you have seen that all mammals have liver, you don’t have comparable evidence for god and so again you commit a fallacy.

I apologize for the long length of the post but I hope that I have been able to answer some of the questions concerning evidence, and specifically evidence for god.

No, I don’t want to kill myself

I like to meditate about death, I like to think how I will die and I really would want to pass to the nether world peacefully and painlessly. There are my friends who fear the mention of death. To them I can’t help them.

To those of us who accept that death as negation of life is slowly approaching, I stumbled upon a beautiful piece on death that I thought I would share with all of you. It is suited for those of us with no belief in the afterlife and see death just as what happened to us before we were born, we cease to exist.

I hope you like it and find it uplifting.

I do not fear death