What if we find no evidence for a theistic creation?
by Titus Rivas
Some scholars believe that absolute or strong agnosticism about the existence of a theistic creator is a rational position. Accordingly, it is in principle, a priori impossible to know whether there is a theistic god or not.
However, as I've shown elsewhere, this position is incoherent, because the definition of a theistic creator implies a created world that is fundamentally different from a non-created world, in other respects than the mere fact that it was created. In other words, a created world has clear and manifest, knowable characteristics which a non-created world would lack and vice versa. It may be very difficult to find out what those characteristics would be and whether they exist or not, but it cannot be in principle impossible, as the notion of theistic creation is by definition very different from that of a completely autonomous natural order.
Now, it is not only absolute or strong agnosticism which is incoherent. So is a theism which rejects the notion that it is possible to find evidence that the world was created. If there really were no evidence of any kind for creation, not only would we have no evidence for the existence of a theistic creator, but due to the definition of a theistic creator, this would amount to evidence against creation and thereby also against a theistic creator. If it turns out there is absolutely no evidence of any kind for a theistic creation (meaning that the natural order could be exactly as it is without having been created), strong atheism is the only rational option.
As long as it is judged worthwhile to look for sound evidence for or against a created natural order, it remains rational to take a provisional position based on the available evidence, be it (weak) theism or (weak) atheism, or to withhold final judgment, i.e. weak agnosticism. Absolute or strong agnosticism is not among the rational choices.
As we have seen, the very theory of theism implies that the world is created in such a way that it radically differs from a world that would not be created. So a theistic creator would by definition create a world, which has crucial characteristics that show that it was created. So a theistic god that remains completely hidden is a contradiction in terms. The created world would have to continuously testify to that god.
I want to thank Chris Canter for improving the English.
This online article dates from 2009. It was updated on March 10th 2018.