Let’s Redefine Evidence, Shall We?

Well to be sure it is a waste of time arguing with irrationalists, but on the other hand I did find out something I’ve been wanting to know, which is what they mean when they say that rationalists and atheists define evidence too narrowly. That seems to be a fashionable thing to say, I keep hearing it and seeing it, but the discussion always seems to go off in another direction before I can pin down what they mean by it. But this time after I asked about fifteen times, the irrationalist (who claims to have a PhD in cognitive science, which I hope is a bit of Walter Mittyism) finally said what he meant: ‘In terms of “evidence”… it can be non-material, non-phenomenological, but impinge upon an individual’s consciousness.’

Oh that. Is that all. Wanting to claim that something that happens inside my head (or your head, or X’s head) is evidence of something, not in my head, but in the external world. That’s what broadening the definition of evidence amounts to; I see. ‘I really really feel that Jesus loves me, therefore Jesus exists.’ In short, a piece of pure Humpty Dumptyism: words can mean whatever I want them to mean. It’s a question of who’s to be master, that’s all. If we can all decide that anything we can dream up in our own dear little minds constitutes evidence, why, what a fun world we can all create. Of course, that will mean we’ll have to come up with a new word which means what ‘evidence’ means now, and then the irrationalists will hijack and redefine that one too, so that we’ll have to come up with another one, and –

This could go on awhile.

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