Have you ever encountered the claim that there is "no evidence for God?" This is usually thrown out by undereducated, militant, atheistic, online "trolls" and is meant to be a conversation stopper - an irrefutable argument proving the rationality of the atheist position. Ironically, it manages to do just the opposite.
Is There A Lack of Evidence for God?
The first problem with this line of arguing is simply that it is demonstrably false. Theists have any number, I can think of at least twenty of the top of my head, of arguments that prove the existence of God from various elements of the visible world1. If all arguments for God were of the "I feel God exists/ I want God to exist/ The Bible says God exists/ my parents said God exists" variety then the atheist would have a valid point. Unfortunately for the atheist, this isn't the case. Evidence for God can be found in the fact that the universe has a beginning2 (and nothing can cause itself to begin to exist), in the moral law3, in the beauty and goodness in the universe4, in the intelligibility of the universe5, in the contingency of everything we see around us6, in the history surrounding Jesus Christ7, in the universal testimony of mankind8, in miracles9, etc, etc, etc. The atheist may or may not have engaged some or all of these arguments (more often than not they haven't, at least in my experience) but to simply ignore them all and claim there is no evidence is shockingly ignorant. It would be like a fundamentalist simply saying "there is no evidence for the Big Bang" as a sweeping, and supposedly unanswerable, dismissal of one of the best supported scientific theories. Would this prove young Earth Creationism or would it rather prove the scientific illiteracy of the fundamentalist?
Is the Argument Logical?
Another, and worse, problem for the argument is the bad logic behind it. Even if we granted the atheist the truth of his statement, "there is no evidence for the existence of God," his conclusion, "there is no God," would still not be proven. This type of argument is a logical fallacy, argumentum ad ignorantiam, or "appeal to ignorance10." I usually respond to the atheist by asking if the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life proves there are no aliens. The atheist typically agrees that this is a bad argument, aliens, after all, could be on a planet we haven't discovered yet. Absence of evidence, as we can clearly see in the alien example, doesn't equal evidence of absence. We can't argue from ignorance to any conclusion. The most the atheist argument, "there is no evidence for God therefore God doesn't exist," could rationally support is agnosticism, that we don't know whether or not God exists. This wouldn't however, justify a complacent or comfortable agnosticism, far less an absolute agnosticism that claims we can never know whether or not there is a God. At most, this argument would justify a burning agnosticism - one where the agnostic seeks, with all his power, enough evidence to make a decision on the God question, which is the most pressing question any of us are presented with, as it alone carries with it possible eternal consequences. To conclude that we don't know if there is a God and then to live as if there wasn't one is to make a rather poor "wager," as even the honest atheist will admit.11
Is Atheism Logical?
All of which shows the underlying illogic of atheism. To assert that there are no Gods anywhere, at anytime, inside or outside the universe would require knowledge of all times and all places. Such knowledge would, in principal, only be possible for an omniscient being - a God. Thus, only God could know there was no God, only God could be an atheist, which is immediately self-contradictory. Such an absurdity is the ultimate attraction of the "no evidence equals no God" argument, but, as demonstrated above, that route collapses under its own illogic quite rapidly.
1. For a great summary of the evidence see Kreeft, Peter and Tacelli, Ronald, Handbook of Christian Apologetics
2. The Kaalam Cosmological Argument - see more HERE
3. The Argument from Objective Morality - see more HERE
4. The Aesthetic Argument see more HERE
5. Pope Benedict XVI famously laid out this one. See more HERE.
6. Aquinas' "Third Way" see Summa Theologiae I, 2, 3
7. Lord, Liar, Lunatic - see Mere Christianity
8. Both the "sages" and the ordinary man reject atheism throughout history
9. See Lewis' masterful treatment in his book Miracles
10. From Kreeft's Socratic Logic, "The 'appeal to ignorance' consists in arguing that an idea must be true because we do not know that it is not. It is a fallacy because ignorance can never be a premise or reason. Premises must express knowledge-claims. Nothing logically follow from nothing, i.e. from no-knowledge." (page 86)
11. For more see Pascal, Rene Pensees