Consider these recent pronouncements --
William Vallicella: The Decline of the Culture of Free Discussion and Debate
... And now we notice a very interesting and important point. To be a liberal in the old old sense (a paleo-liberal) is, first and foremost, to value toleration. Toleration is the touchstone of classical liberalism. (Morris Raphael Cohen) But why should we be tolerant of (some of) the beliefs and (some of) the behaviors of others? Because we cannot responsibly claim to know, with respect to certain topics, what is true and what ought to be done/left undone. Liberalism (in the good old sense!) requires toleration, and toleration requires fallibilism. But if we can go wrong, we can go right, and so fallibilism presupposes and thus entails the existence of objective truth. A good old liberal must be an absolutist about truth and hence cannot be a PC-whipped lefty.Now, aside from the fact that we *can* know that God is -- that in fact, we all do know it already -- the reason to tolerate God-deniers has nothing to do with knowledge or ignorance of the reality of God.
Examples. Why tolerate atheists? Because we don't know that God exists. Why tolerate theists? Because we don't know that God does not exist. And so on through the entire range of Big Questions. But toleration has limits. ...
By Vallicella's rationale for tolerating them, should the majority of humanity come to accept the truth that we human beings can, and do, know that God is, it would then be “right” to cease to tolerate the God-deniers amongst us. You know, like they do to us whenever they get their filthy paws on the levers of governmental force. And the reason they *always* persecute us is precisely because their metaphysical commitments provide no reason to refrain from doing it.
William Vallicella: Does the Atheist Deny What the Theist Affirms?
So I am quite puzzled by Ryan's claim that the existence of God is contradicted by much of what we know to be true. I would like him to produce just one proposition that we know to be true that entails the nonexistence of God. The plain truth of the matter, as it seems to me, is that nothing we know to be true rules out the existence of God. I cheerfully concede that nothing we know to be true rules it in either. Pace the doctor angelicus, one cannot rigorously prove the existence of God. One can argue for the existence of God, but not prove the existence of God. By 'argue for the existence of God,' I mean give good arguments, plausibly-premised arguments free of formal and informal fallacy, arguments that render theistic belief reasonable. What I claim cannot be done, however, is provide rationally compelling arguments, arguments that will force every competent philosophical practioner to accept their conclusions on pain of being irrational if he does not.Look at this, the last paragraph especially: right there, the fool *has* proven that atheism is false -- which is to say, contrary to his continuous insistence that no one can either prove or disprove the reality of God, *he* has proven, right there, that God is.
2. Ryan also claims that there is no evidence for the God hypothesis. This strikes me as just plain false. There are all kinds of evidence. That it is not the sort of evidence Ryan and fellow atheists would accept does not show that it is not evidence. People have religious and mystical experiences of many different kinds. There is the 'bite of conscience' that intimates a Reality transcendent of the space-time world. Some experiences of beauty intimate the same. There are the dozens and dozens of arguments for the existence of God. Add it up and you have a cumulative case for theism.
The atheist will of course discount all of this. But so what? I will patiently discount all his discountings and show in great detail how none of them are rationally compelling. I will show how he fails to account for obvious facts (consciousness, self-consciouness, conscience, intentionality, purposiveness, etc.) if he assumes that all that exists is in the space-time world. I will expose and question all his assumptions. I will vigorously and rigorously drive him to dogmatism. Having had all his arguments neutralized, if not refuted, he will be left with nothing better than the dogmatic assertion of his position.
But he refuses to see it, for he is a fool: he values something more than he values truth. And one of the things he values more that truth is "discussion and debate" (as in the title of the first linked post)
(*) his characterization of me as a "punk" is a manifestation of his refusal to reason about the matter, pure and simple.