The idiom, “seeing is believing” has been inspiring the human race of how powerful evidence is in shaping our beliefs. Therefore, it is a norm in the human culture that any information must embody explicit evidence before it can only be said as true. The same conception was proposed by Christopher Hitchens as he quoted, “that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”. I personally believe that this statement is a false analogy and is rhetorical as it is persuasive in demanding people to perceive in a one-way manner.
Knowledge covers various fields and grounds, with each ground constitute different measures in order to validate information as a source of knowledge. In other words, the need of evidence may also differ between areas of knowledge. Hence, to justify my assumption on the statement quoted by Christopher Hitchens, thoughts with consideration of counter-arguments are assembled to address the relevance of evidence in natural science and religion. Living in the millennium century has enabled us to witness numerous scientific discoveries have been made by scientists.
From one of the biggest breakthrough in chemistry through the uncovering of the atomic theory by John Dalton to the controversial theory of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin, scientific discoveries has significantly contribute to how we see and perceive the world today. No matter how controversial a theory could be, a theory such as the theory of evolution is supported by empirical evidence and facts which guards the theory from being criticized and questioned. The stronger the evidence a theory could offer, the more valid a theory could be.
This truly shows the survival of a theory depends heavily on the presence of empirical evidence. The string theory which suggests that the world is made up of small slices of 2-dimensional membrane wriggling in 11 dimensional space has been backlash in recent years as some scientists say that a theory is not a theory if its predictions are untestable thus, it could not provide an evidence of its validity (Boyle, 2010). Hence, it is wise to say that any scientific theories which provide no sensible evidence are merely an assumption.
However, as we go through the timeline of scientific discoveries, not all established theories have been able to provide us with explanations and evidence. Professor Jim Hill from the University of Adelaide reacted to Einstein’s theory of relativity that up until now there is no substantial evidence that suggests this theory is feasible with any existing transportation mechanism. Nevertheless, it is hard for me to not acknowledge the impact the theory has made in our life such as its application in the production of nuclear energy.
Perhaps technology has become the greatest obstacle which hinders our power to thoroughly obtain explanation and evidence on the theory of relativity. Therefore, I am really curious on how evidence less theories could be justified and survived refutes from the science community? As a science student, I always demand reasons on topics that I hardly understand. Since a theory could not provide a convincing reason why it is asserted, I will immediately dismiss it.
As I come to think about it, observations in natural science are much influenced by our expectation. Einstein as a reputable scientist is well-respected and his ideas will usually gain attention from the science community as he is highly-regarded as a genius due to his incredible range of theoretical physics publication in the early 1900s. Hence, as we are confident of his findings, we tend to believe that the theory is true without the need of being justified. Clearly, the science community is actually making an ad hominem fallacy.
The flaw of natural science through the treatment of double standard shifts the question to be, does the need of evidence in assertions are subjective in natural science? I personally believe that, each assertion deserves an equal treatment of being validate before being dismissed as Richard van de Lagemaat quoted, many scientific discoveries are counter-intuitive and go against untutored common sense. Logically, as the need of evidence is arguably important in natural science, the same must go to other areas of knowledge, including religion.
Nevertheless, proofs of the existence of God are just too vague that they can be easily dismissed by skeptics. While skeptics based their argument of this matter, Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid explained that there are actually three categories of evidence which proves the existence of God, which are the instinctive evidence, tangible evidence and revelatory evidence. Therefore, this explains why religious scholars often based their reasoning that God exists through the existence of the holy book – the tangible evidence.
One could still argue that, relating the creation of the holy book with the existence of God is merely a fallacy portrayed through circular reasoning, i. e. what makes you say that God exists? Because there is the holy book. Who created the holy book? God created them. In fact, since the holy book itself is a form of historical document, the holy book could be influenced by deliberate manipulation by individuals to suit their interests. Therefore, if the information of a historical document such as the holy book is altered, the reason to claim that it is a proof of God’s existence is no more valid.