Religious Dispatches had a recent article called “Atheist Monument: Proof of Unintelligent Design” and, as I am wont to do, I’ve gotten into a discussion there with a theist named Nick Rogers.

Nick wants to talk about human rights in a “materialistic” universe and I told him he’d first have to give evidence for his god.

Claiming this wasn’t about the existence of his god, he said:

“No. I made no claim about Gods existence. This is not an argument about Gods existence. The Atheists I argue with almost always pull this move when they are trying to change the subject. Please note, the argument about does God exist or not is one I can have.”

Then he wanted me to agree to this:

“Let us simply do our best to conceive of two universes. One where you are right, there is no god.. And one where I am right, god does exist.”

See the problem here?

He wants me to agree that two universes exist, with one containing a god, without him ever actually providing evidence that this god exists.

Sneaky liar. And then he rushed on with his argument, without waiting for me to agree to the basis, hoping to trip me up.

But mama didn’t raise no fools.

This is all about gods existing and so he words his “reasonable” thought problem to conceal this very basic assumption.

Except I don’t agree.

This is what I wrote back:

“*Sigh* so you were lying when you said this wasn’t about god existing, weren’t you? You want me to agree to your assumptions, which includes a universe and then a universe with a god.

So we’re back to where I started. Please allow me to repeat myself.

We both agree that the universe exists but you add a god whereas I do not. You are making a positive claim that is different from the assumptions that we have both agreed to (i.e. a universe exists).

I’ll spell it out very simply for you:

1) Universe: we both agree it exists

2) Universe + god: we both agree the universe exists, but we don’t agree about the god. You say the god does exist so it’s your burden of proof to provide evidence of that god.

We are stopped here.

We cannot continue until you provide the evidence. Your burden of proof for the god remains.

Please provide evidence that said god exists. Then we can continue.”

We’ll see where he goes from here…but I think it will simply be along the lines of “you have to accept my premise of two universes.”

No, I don’t.

And without that, Nick’s shell game doesn’t work.

Though he could surprise me and actually give some evidence….

Nah, he won’t choose that way. If you were a betting man, you could make some money….