Is Absence of Evidence for God, Evidence of Absence?

by Christopher Copan Scott

There is a central question that must be answered in the philosophy of religion: Is absence of evidence, evidence of absence? The answer is that it all depends on what the thing in question is.

Examine these two scenarios:

Suppose in S1 (scenario one) Bob is invited on a challenge to find one golden ant, the only golden ant, and it happens to be somewhere in the 1.7 billion acres known as the Amazon Rainforest. If you were to find this one golden ant in 24 hours you would be rewarded with a large sum of money. Furthermore, suppose Bob the contestant is unsuccessful in this challenge and as a result complains to the organizers of the event saying that because he could not find the golden ant, it therefore does not exist. The problem with his complaint is that in S1, the absence of evidence for this one golden ant, gives little to no justification for you to conclude the non-existence of it.

Let us go on to S2. Here Bob is confronted with a similar challenge, instead he is not trying to find an ant but an elephant, and the environment is not the Amazon Rainforest, but his small office room. In S2, one’s assertion that the lack of evidence of the elephant in his office is evidence of absence of the elephant would be warranted…


Is Absence of Evidence for God, Evidence of Absence? | Christ, My Redeemer

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