Certain believers think a good comeback to an atheist who expresses the lack of evidence for any divinity is to ask why he believes in gravity. Gravity, the believer says, just like God, is invisible and everywhere. Most people believe in it without evidence, so why not believe in God?
Here is an example:
There are many good answers, but I am interested in how people in this forum might respond to the argument. It has been said that when Newton introduced the notion of a gravitational force, he was accused of bringing the occult into science.
Rather than say what God is like, it would be better to describe what God is. In concrete terms.
When Newtons universal law of Gravitation was first published (F=Gmm/r2), it was open to everybody to examine, refute and/or prove to be true or false. This formula can be used to measure how celestial bodies move through out the universe. It's not perfect but it's pretty accurate over short periods of time. We can feel the effects of gravity, see the effects of gravity and calculate the effects of gravity. Gravity exists.
So what about God. There are no effects from God. If God is like gravity then we should be able to calculate the effects that God has on us, we should be able to see and feel the effects of Gods power on us.
I the author's mind, his analogy for God being similar to gravity is not crazy.
I offer this not as some sort of scientific proof of God (an exercise I consider to be pointless), but rather to point out that a perfect God isn’t such a crazy thought.
Why mention 'crazy' in the first place? And if scientific proof of God is pointless, then why compare God to something that scientists try to prove scientifically.
But people who cavalierly dismiss any who do believe in an all-powerful God bother me.
Most arguments by non-theist's are dismissing the belief in God. Not those that believe. But the Westboro Baptist Church would be an exception to this.
At the time Newton published his theory all he could show was that the inverse square law could explain Kepler's three laws of planetary motion. He had no direct evidence of the existence gravitational force from experiment. Only a few were in a position to understand what he had done mathematically.
Consequently acceptance of Newton's work was slow and sometimes grudging. Sir William Temple, considered one of the leading intellects of the day, wrote in 1690 that there was little new in astronomy since the ancients except perhaps the Copernican system, and that, he felt, was not assuredly new and of no use whatever. He was spectacularly wrong of course, but his remarks illustrate the temper of the times.
These 'certain believers' sound like stupid idiots. Gravity is explained by science.
I would respond to the argument by saying 'fuck off you idiot' and then walk away.
There is an old saying that if you associate with dirt you get dirty.
Oh, you mean like god sucks the way gravity sucks?!?
At least we can STUDY gravity, quantify it and make predictions based on observations made. We can theorize about quantum gravity and make estimations regarding the existence of something which may be a "graviton." Whether the Higgs field and the Higgs Boson are part of this business, I don't know. Oh, and leveni, thanks for reminding me of Newton's equation for gravimetric attraction ... takes me back to ... damn, was it high school physics?!?
In any case, we can see the effects of gravity. We CANNOT see the effects of any form of deity, certainly not to the point where all other possible explanations are eliminated. Once again, the believers want to take a CONCLUSION and build a case around it.
That crap didn't wash in the past, it doesn't wash now, and it never will.
While I'm not a scientist, physicist or engineer, I would add my laymen's 2₵ worth of understanding to what levini and Loren said. Not only can the effects of gravity be measured, those effects can also be accurately predicted. When Voyager I and II traveled into interstellar space, I believe the ground crew used the gravitational pull of the various planets to act like a slingshot for those craft to propel beyond the limits of the solar system. These predictions proved to be accurate based upon a known force of the physical universe. As opposed to, ohhh I don't, the countless failed predictions of end times, the return of one or more messiahs, 12th imam, etc.
And, I agree with Napoleon. Never argue with a fool. People looking in from the outside may not be able to tell the difference.
Voyager II did, indeed, do a "Grand Tour" of the planets, made possible because some bright scientist knew the dynamics of gravity and the paths of the planets, saw the potential and the limited window of opportunity, then developed and presented a credible proposal to NASA. The result: we learned a LOT more about our solar system and especially the outer planets than we might otherwise have been able to at that time. The basic principles of gravity as outlined by Newton and the motion of the planets, as laid out by lights such as Copernicus and Galileo and Kepler and Laplace, among hundreds if not thousands of other contributors, made that now-famous mission possible.
And let's remember that old story of Laplace, working to understand the movements of those planets, and Napoleon, who asked why there was no mention of god in the astronomer's work. Laplace's answer: "I had no need of that hypothesis."
Fact is, there never has been a need for it ... and I hazard to guess there never will be.
Notice immediately that this person says "I don't mean exactly the god of the Bible." OK, for me that ends it all. This book, the Bible, is supposed to be the handbook that tells you about God and what he expects of you, tells you how to live, and explains everything about the deity and the afterlife, what to do to be favored by God, etc. Once we establish that this book is no more than fables and stories it all goes out the window! We find that "god is not trying to get in touch with you," and that IF a god did exist that he doesn't give a tinker's damn about you one way or the other! It means that God does not answer prayer, and is a 99.9 percent probability that God is imaginary!
Now let's deal with "God is like gravity." We can safely say that in some places we have more of this force we call "gravity" than we have in other places. Less gravity in outer space, for example, and more of it on planets like earth. If God is like gravity, and we all want to be with God, we should strive to be in a black hole. I think we should get a ship together and visit a black hole even if we know we will never return. Apparently we have more "god force" inside a black hole where we will be crushed.
"God is like gravity." We might as well say God is like light, or say God is like darkness, which is the absence of light. This is all more than silly! It's absurd! We might as well believe all the nonsense written in "The Proto-Gospel Of James," a second century writing once revered by many, but none the less, a writing that is omitted from "almighty scripture."
"God is like gravity," the man says, and I say "I have a piece of toast that looks just like Jesus Christ."
No kidding, Dennis. I'm reminded of the old and amusing poem of The Blind Men and the Elephant, and especially the conclusion to that charming bit of verse:
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!
That was well said, Loren. I also read the poem.
Gravity is a part of nature and so subject to scientific investigation. It also obeys naturals laws, in fact it is a law of nature. God is claimed to be beyond nature, cannot be investigated by science. Humans understand and use the laws of gravity; humans do not understand god and are not able to use him in any creative manner. The god hypothesis is utterly useless.
I would say we can measure the effects of gravity to the point where it is a mathematical science used to send remote controlled science labs to other planets. The effects of god, however, are noticeably absent. The sick are not healed by prayer (James 5:14-16), for instance. The bible seems to imply the same repeatability (do this; get that) we expect of gravity and these both can be verified empirically. I always see people fall off buildings no matter how hard they believe they can fly. In the same way I never see the sick healed as promised in James no matter how hard they believe that they will be. When god satisfies these basic evidentiary requirements, then the argument you presented would make sense: Believing in him would be like believing in gravity.
Then by excluding god from the empirically verifiable which is measurable and material they seem to both refute their statement that believing in god and gravity is the same. They also seem to disqualify themselves on any discussions that relate to anything that is empirically verifiable. Based on their own definition of god and how he is experienced the only sphere of experience they have any authority speaking about is their own personal internal experience, nothing more. But in fact they believe in a god that does interact with the world by arranging parking spaces, winning sporting events for one side, and securing that promotion. The god they believe in may be immeasurable and immaterial but his interactions are not. I am not clear what point theists are trying to make with "god is immaterial" argument.