Is it true that, as atheist biologist Jerry Coyne recently put it at his blog, “[T]here is no evidence for any divine being . . .”
I don’t think so.
God belief, like atheist belief, is an inference that people make when they look at the universe whole. In other words, the universe, taken as a whole, is the evidence from which an induction is made. Both the theist and the atheist have a reaction to existence and surmise to themselves: “There must be a God!” or “There must not be a God!” And if you are an agnostic like me, you look at the universe as a whole and say: “I genuinely can’t decide. I see serious problems with both the theist leap and the atheist leap. I don’t know if mind precedes matter or matter precedes mind.”
Below is a quote that I believe provides an example of what I mean. In 1984, at the age of 78, and thirteen years prior to his death (he died at the age of 91), Nobel Prize winning Harvard biologist, George Wald, made this confession before a meeting of the Quantum Biology Symposium:
“It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals. In them the universe begins to know itself.”
Dr. Wald was a lifelong skeptic who, late in life, came to infer the existence of mind prior to matter. Science, for Dr. Wald, was not in the service of atheism, nor of theism. Science just returned answers to questions he asked of nature, and he thought about those answers and drew inferences.
Until God, like a UFO, lands on the White House lawn and says “I’m here!”, or science returns non-question begging material solutions to the riddles of the universe’s and life’s origins (as well as the origins of information, mind, free will, and the laws of physics) there’s plenty of room for atheistic and theistic inferences. At least there is for an agnostic like me. I simply don’t see any smoking guns presented by either side, and I see a lot of holes in both theist and atheist attempts to account for all that we actually observe in the universe.
I wonder, for example, what it is that makes Jerry Coyne a confident atheist. What is that “smoking gun piece of evidence” for Coyne that makes him say, “Atheism is true”?