I read this post and went upstairs to ask my 13 year old son “What proof do you have that God exists?” He thought for a minute and sarcastically said. “I don’t think you could have asked that question if there was no God”. So, at least to the average 13 year old, the best proof we have of a God existence is seen in your ability to abstractly discuss the lack of that existence.
Personally, I prefer the ontological argument. It’s just as self-referential, and problematic in similar areas, but the logical trick it uses is ingenious.
As for Mike’s argument, I abstractly discuss the nonexistence of God because there are about 5-5.5 billion people who disagree with me on it. I could just as well abstractly discuss the nonexistence of dragons, the astral plane, and magic with geeks who ODed on AD&D. However, if such geeks exist, they’re not a potent political or philosophical force.
It’s similar to my attitude toward radicals. Ordinarily, I prefer to ignore them, because they’re politically irrelevant. I pay attention to them when the blogs I read become embroiled in arguments with them, or when they’re intellectually respectable on their own. No matter what I think of Chomsky, he’s important enough even politically to deserve to have his points addressed.
As it happens, religion is nothing if not politically relevant. A supermajority of the world believes in some deity; hence, it makes sense to abstractly discuss the non-existence of those deities. Thirty years ago, it made sense to abstractly discuss the minutiae of Marxist theory – after all, one of the two global superpowers adhered to it.
Even so, note that my discussions of God’s nonexistence mostly revolve around refuting arguments that God does exist or that religious faith is rational. It’s been four years since I last sought to logically prove that no god can exist. Surely my desire to refute wrong arguments that underlie common beliefs can’t be taken as evidence these beliefs are true.
And even if I did actively seek to prove God didn’t exist, it would say nothing about whether God actually exists. Many anthropologists publish research showing that the biological concept of race just doesn’t exist, and any genetic differences across populations are too minor to be bases for traditional ethnic divisions. That in itself doesn’t make race a real concept. Even people who reject that view argue with facts rather than make an abstract claim that the debate itself makes them right.