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God and the tooth fairy

God and the tooth fairy

A few days ago, I posted the following tweet:

“Every time I hear an atheist compare belief in God to belief in the ‘tooth fairy’ I get more evidence for my observation that atheists don’t even understand what they are rejecting.”

The tweet elicited several responses from atheists. Predictably, those included folks that defended the analogy by insisting that there is literally no evidence for the existence of God: none at all. For example,

“When theory and observation meet, we call that evidence. The tooth fairy has no theory and no evidence. God has theory but no evidence.”

“Maybe if there was more evidence for God than there was for the Tooth Fairy then we wouldn’t make that comparison.”

I wouldn’t bother to point out statements like these if they were anomalous, but the fact is that they are quite common among atheists. And the ignorance, hubris, and glaring brazenness of such statements should once and for all put the lie to the silly notion that self-described secular atheists are somehow more rational and carefully critical in evaluating evidence than their religious and theistic neighbors.

So here’s how things usually go at this point. A theist will point out that there is an unimaginably vast literature of reasons and arguments that provide evidence for the existence of God.

And that's what I did. Indeed, I pointed out that I’ve written three books — two co-authored with atheists — on just this topic. 

So of course, I was then insulted for trying to “sell books”. Imagine that, an author who dares make reference to the books he’s written. And even worse, an author who might want to sell those books. The audacity!

And then comes the predictable reply: “Just give me one reason to believe God exists. Give me one argument. Give me one bit of evidence.”

Of course, it’s an utterly silly request. Any person who begins by saying there is no evidence at all is not about to concede anything you present to them. Remember when now-disgraced young earth creationist Kent Hovind promised a $250,000 reward to anybody who could provide any evidence of evolution? It was a fool’s errand, of course, for whatever evidence you might provide, Kent could always insist that he doesn’t accept it as evidence. 

The same is true in situations like this. “That’s not evidence! That’s been ‘debunked’!” As if one’s personal incredulity toward a reason or argument is sufficient to demonstrate that it constitutes no reason or evidence at all.

I guess the bottom line is this: if people really want to keep comparing God to the tooth fairy, you and I probably ain’t going to be able to change their mind.

Dr. Randal Rauser is Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, where he has taught since 2003. He blogs at randalrauser.com and lectures widely on issues of theology, Christian worldview, and apologetics. Randal is the author of many books including his latest, What's So Confusing About Grace?

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