We all like to think that we base our views on evidence, but sometimes evidence gets in the way of a good argument. Here are 8 good ways to avoid evidence (with examples).
Not long after christianity began, a critic named Celsus argued that Jesus couldn’t have been divine, for he missed the opportunity to prove his divinity by disappearing from the cross.
I find this an unsatisfactory argument, because it assumes that Celsus knew what God’s purpose was. And I find similarly unsatisfactory arguments being used today.
I expect discussions between christians and atheists to get edgy at times. We are talking about important matters and the two ‘sides’ are poles apart. But some responses seem extreme, even to people on the same side.
Why do you believe what you do – about religion, politics, ethics or life itself?
Many sceptics about religion are evidentialists, that is, they believe we should proportion our belief according to the evidence. Different disciplines (e.g. law, science, history, journalism and everyday life) require different types of evidence, but the principle seems reasonable.
But what if the sceptics are ignoring their own creed?
The Daily Telegraph in Sydney has been mounting an extensive disinformation campaign on climate change for years now. The tactic is simple, and apparently effective, if not truthful – latch onto any isolated “fact” that seems to show some evidence of a cool world, ignore all the facts, evidence and reports to the contrary, and sneer rather than argue logically. And make sure all your columnists, cartoonists and featured letter writers are ‘on message’.
So now that 2013 is over, what does the data tell us in Australia?