“Let us say: 'Either God is or he is not.' But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question." Blaise Pascal.
Like Pascal, many theists believe reason cannot determine whether or not God exists. Indeed, many suppose that, because God, if he exists, transcends the physical reality to which we have access, it is in principle impossible for determine whether God exists to settle the matter simply observing it. Science, and empirical observation more generally, can provide, at best, a few clues. They cannot settle the question beyond reasonable doubt.
I reject that view. It seems to me that by observing the world around us, we can answer the question of whether God exists. In fact, think it’s pretty obvious there’s no God.
That last claim may surprise even some atheists. How could it be pretty obvious there’s no God? Surely this is a tortuously difficult and complex question over which the greatest minds have pondered for millennia, without ever reaching any real consensus. How, then, can the answer be pretty obvious?
Well, I think the (evidential) problem of evil, combined with an absence of any half decent argument for the all-powerful, maximally good God of traditional monotheism, shows beyond reasonable doubt there's no such being. We really need to do little more than look out the window to see there's no such God.
True, many theists will be outraged by that, and will suggest all sorts of subtleties and sophistications. Indeed, they typically say: "But what about the arguments of theologians X, Y and Z? Until you've dealt in depth with all their many moves and arguments, you surely cannot say it's pretty obvious there's no God."
Trouble is, much the same sophisticated evasions etc. can be made in defence of belief in an evil God (as my The God of Eth begins to illustrate). Yet it remains pretty obvious there's no such evil being. The moral is obvious....
Indeed, isn't this just the courtier's reply, so nicely lampooned by pharyngula?
I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.
Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.
Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.
Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor's taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.