Argument From Ignorance

By: Michelle Zorzella

You may have heard nonbelievers say they reject belief in Gods due to the lack of evidence in favor of their existence. Some will even boldly declare that “Science has disproved God.” It is not my inability to accept such an audacious claim that I renounce it without much dilemma. Rather, it is with consideration of the principles of correct reasoning that such statements cannot be considered valid if they are to be honored appropriately. It comes as much surprise that anyone who claims to adhere to these principles would propose such an argument and yet fail to identify the obvious error within their own thinking. For the absence of evidence should not be taken as evidence of absence in any matter we wish to deal with intelligently.

In pointing out this flaw in the nonbelievers worldview, they may attempt to defend it by stating “in particular circumstances, it is most appropriate to assume absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence.” That is to say, it is permissible on occasion to violate the fundamental conventions of argument by which coherency is provided. This point can be illustrated in the following example, where evidence of absence is allegedly demonstrated in discovering that ones keys are not on the counter where they expect they had forgotten them. However, this argument is uncompelling since the existence of the keys is not called into question when we do not find them in their supposed location. Therefore, such an analogy can hardly be said to provide any parallels by which we can reasonably claim there is ever a circumstance where an argument from ignorance could produce logical conclusions.

Furthermore, there is the additional problem that is the questionable criteria upon which nonbelievers determine what may constitute as evidence for the existence of a divine being. How can the laws of nature inform us of what may or may not exist beyond the natural world, given that such explanations can only be said to describe natural phenomena? And to what extent is nature so that we may know the whole essence of its identity? I suppose if it is not required that the nonbeliever consider their own position as critically they do believers, such arguments may continue to satisfy such distorted reasoning. In all, the argument that the absence of evidence for the existence of God is proof no such being exists at best is fallacious.

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2 comments

  1. Tom Leeds a.k.a. Tom your friendly neighborhood atheist

    I am an atheist, the reason I don’t think there is a god is not due to a lack of evidence for it but a lack of reason to think any god exists. I don’t think there is a god because anyone can come up with the idea of a god but no one has successfully given any reason to believe that god was real. If I came up with the concept for a god and convinced a billion people that it was real would it make that god real? No, of course not. So no, it is not do to a lack of evidence for a god, obviously there is no credible evidence and on that even most theists will agree. It is the lack of a reason to believe that god might be real that leaves me no reason to believe.

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