I've been having a good discussion with a former atheist now believer. This person, who calls herself WingAbouts, has a degree in biology (or so she claims) and is a former believer in evolution, and now claims that the Theory of Evolution has been disproven, by scientists, in the 1950's. I have asked for references and, so far, haven't been given any. I have also asked her to provide some arguments for why the Bible is reliable and to provide references for that as well. She has provided some very thorough answers on her blog which I would encourage everyone to go read. Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now to look up the references she provided, but I do intend to.
I want to talk about the nature of evidence and proof. In debates such as believer vs. non-believer, nothing can be proven. The very object of our debate is faith-based, admittedly so, even by believers. Neither side can prove their case.
According to dictionary.com, evidence is defined as: 1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof. 2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign
Proof: 1. evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth. 2. anything serving as such evidence. 3. the act of testing or making trial of anything; test; trial: to put a thing to the proof. 4. the establishment of the truth of anything; demonstration.
Notice the definition of proof says "evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true". This means that evidence can be found to support both sides of an argument but evidence does not prove it until it is sufficient. We have all seen a mystery murder case where it strongly appears that a certain person is guilty, but in the end it is always the person you least expect. Proof is provided, and in the light of the truth, it is usually clear how the former suspect appeared to be guilty. We must be very careful about drawing conclusions from evidence until there is a sufficient amount to "rest the case".
Further, religion proudly claims it finds truth using faith, not evidence, so in my mind, this very greatly negates any evidence they try to produce. The problem with finding evidence in favor of religion is that the person seeking it is almost always biased. He sets out with the pre-determined conclusion that his religion is correct. This is unfortunate because, along the way, he will probably stumble across evidence which does not support his views. This evidence will be tossed aside and only that which supports his pre-determined conclusion will be presented to argue his position.
Do atheists do this too? I'm sure some do, and this is not the way to find truth. I can only speak for myself when I say that I am willing to look at and analyze any evidence. Believers might bring me an argument that I can't refute, and a few have.
However, I can't base such a huge conclusion on one piece of good evidence when I have been presented with hundreds of good arguments against it. It's like a basketball game: the winner is determined by who has the most points when the time runs out. It doesn't matter how those points were scored: free throw, lay up, slam dunk, 3 pointer, net or rim. What matters is who has the most points at the end.
A religious "slam dunk" is still only worth 2 points and that doesn't mean they win. An atheist "free throw" shot might only be worth 1 point each. But if there are three of them, a score of 3 to 2 means that atheists win. In the end, not one individual score won the game, but their combined effort if they were sufficient.
(There would be some cases where a single piece of evidence would outrule all the others, such as god actually making a public appearance, or video of the crime taking place)
That being said, after taking an objective look at the scores put up by the religious and non-religious, I have to determine, based upon the evidence and not my own bias, that non-religious wins. Of course, having a little common sense, reason, and free thinking helps too. This is the precise path that I followed when becoming an atheist and it was a process that took nearly two years.
Let's tally up the score and see who wins. Anyone is free to add points to either arguments:
The Bible contradicts itself - 1 point
Stories in the Bible are based on magic - 1 point
The Bible condones slavery - 1 point
No scientific evidence supporting the great flood - 1 point
Snakes don't talk - 1 point
Fruit doesn't make you damned - 1 point
Men don't come from mud - 1 point
Women don't come from ribs - 1 point
Virgins can't be pregnant - 1 point
It is impossible to walk on water - 1 point
Dead people don't come back to life - 1 point
According to the Bible, god kills lots of people - 1 point
Research shows that prayer actually has no effect - 1 point
Council of Nicaea - 1 point
A dozen deities with the same attributes as Jesus - 1 point
Christian beliefs borrowed from Paganism - 1 point
Christians can't even agree with each other - 1 point
Much evidence for evolution: 10 points
The Bible says so - 1 point
The Bible is perfect - 1 point
I feel it - 1 point
I believe it - 1 point
I prayed and got what I prayed for - 1 point
I let you comment on my blog - 1 point
My preacher said you would say that - 1 point
My faith over rides any evidence - 1,000,000 points
1,000,007 to 27. Religion wins by a blowout!
So you can see that no matter how many arguments there are for the non-truth of religion, you just can't compete with that darn "faith overrides evidence" argument. Damn it!