Long-time readers of this blog know I very rarely re-blog. Occasionally something strikes my fancy so hard, I have to (if nothing else) mention it and post a link to it here.
Derek Lowe, a chemist who also writes In the Pipeline, a great chemistry blog, recently posted something striking:
…a new analysis of clinical trials for pain medication shows that the placebo effect in [the area of pain relief] has been getting stronger. The same also seems to be true for antipsychotics and antidepressants, but this effect seems to be mainly (or only) visible in large-scale US trials…
Sometimes, when discussing the possible existence of God (or Gods), there is the question: “Where is the evidence God exists?” One problem with that question is that different groups (believers and non-believers) are seeking different kinds of evidence. It’s a bit like how different groups — often the same two groups — get stuck on meanings of the word “theory.”
Evidence can be probative, circumstantial or even merely suggestive. When it comes to the question of God, some require probative evidence to prove God’s existence. Others, believing faith is central to belief, require only circumstantial or suggestive evidence.
Here are some thoughts about evidence I find suggestive.
One of the things that strikes me about the idea of God is how universal that idea is. To the best of my knowledge, every society in every age has had some sort of spiritual core belief.
I used to state this as the assertion that every society believed in some sort of god or gods, but it was pointed out to me that Buddhists don’t actually have a god. They do have some metaphysical entities, and more importantly, Buddhism is certainly a belief in a metaphysical reality that transcends this one.
So the question is: if humans universally find themselves finding God(s), what does this mean?
It would seem to mean one of two things: First, that there is some universal twitch in the human mind that invents the idea of god to account for the nature of existence. Alternately, it could mean that humans apprehend some aspect of reality (as we do justice and equality) that really does exist.
Atheists are quite clear on it being the former. Theists are equally clear on it being the latter.