Guest Post by Doubting Thomas, "On the God Question, Philosophy is in Over It's Head"

Submitted by Doubting Thomas who is a regular commenter here.
I'm a bit of a nerd. This often comes in handy. It certainly did on my last trip to Mexico. I was studying the local flora with a magnifying glass when I noticed something amazing. I spotted a tiny, though fully mature spider and, given my knowledge of arachnids, I was pretty certain I had discovered the smallest known spider in the world.

Upon my return home, I quickly met up with my friend from the local university whose specialty just happened to be arachnology. He was understandably excited and wanted to know more. He asked to see a specimen, but given customs laws, importing unknown animals to the country is illegal. He wanted to see a picture, but the camera on my phone wouldn't zoom in enough to get a good shot. He asked me what evidence I had to show that this wonderful new thing existed, and so I told him the following:

“Premise 1: Tiny spiders exist.
Premise 2: The law of division states that everything can be divided into something smaller.
Conclusion: Very tiny spiders exist.”

As you're probably guessing, none of this actually happened. I don't carry magnifying glasses on trips nor am I cool enough to have friends high up in the spider world, but it also shows a fundamental problem. The issue isn't that my logic is flawed or that a premise is incorrect. It's that I'm doing it all wrong. I didn't take a swing and a miss. I'm playing the wrong game.

I love philosophy. It's a wonderful tool to learn how to think better. It helps us check ideas against other ideas and against what we know about reality. But in order to gain that knowledge about reality, we turn to the hard sciences. Philosophy has never and will never demonstrate the existence of anything. Such a demonstration takes more than arguments or logical proofs. It takes observation and experimentation. Such things are not the realm of philosophy.

Einstein's general theory of relativity posited the existence of black holes back in 1916, but it wasn't until 1971 when scientist used giant telescopes and radio wave detectors to confirm their existence. When people started dying from an unknown cause in the early 80s, scientist speculated that their deaths were the result of an unknown viral infection, but it took another two years and numerous studies and analyses to actually find the virus that causes AIDS.

Now I can already hear the objections from apologists. Tiny spiders and black holes aren't analogous to God. This is true. Tiny spiders are geographically limited. They can only eat tiny bugs and spin super cute tiny webs. God, on the other hand, is everywhere and can do anything. Black holes are indifferent about us. They don't care about our lives or try to communicate with us. God, on the other hand, loves us and wants a relationship with us and has rules for us and on and on. The claims about god are vastly more grandiose than any example I have used therefore the evidence should be equally grand.

But if we want something more analogous, all we have to do is turn on any current “science” channel. There are no shortage of ghost hunters and paranormal investigators out looking for spooks and spirits. Do they do this by sitting around and thinking up nice sounding arguments? Of course not. They set up cameras and audio equipment and spectral telemetry recorders. And while all they're really good for is a laugh or jump scare, at least they understand the game and try to play by the rules.

That's more than I can say for any apologist I've ever read.