I ask this question in all seriousness. What proof do atheists and agnostics seek when they say they want proof of God? I’ve asked a couple (most notably a blogger on here named truelogic) but haven’t really received an answer, so if an atheist or agnostic could clear it up for me I’d be very grateful!
Is it physical proof? If so then do you really think that physical facts are the only things which exist? As one example of why I don’t believe that physical facts are all that exists I refer to Frank Jackson’s “Black and White Mary” case, which can be found in his paper “Epiphenomenal Qualia” ( it first appeared in Philosophical Quarterly, 32 (1982), pp. 127-36) and for further reference would point to Thomas Nagel’s “What is it Like To Be a Bat?. But, on to the thought experiment, and I quote it word for word:
Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of vision and acquires, let us suppose, all the physical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’,‘blue’, and so on. She discovers, for example, just which wavelength combinations from the sky stimulate the retina, and exactly how this produces via the central nervous system the contraction of the vocal chords and expulsion of air from the lungs that results in the uttering of the sentence‘The sky is blue’. (It can hardly be denied that it is in principle possible to obtain all this physical information from black and white television, otherwise the Open University would of necessity need to use color television.)
What will happen when Mary is released from her black and white room or is given a color television monitor? Will she learn anything or not? It seems just obvious that she will learn something about the world and our visual experience of it. But then it is inescapable that her previous knowledge was incomplete. But she had all the physical information. Ergo there is more to have than that, and Physicalism is false.
Clearly the same style of Knowledge argument could be deployed for taste, hearing, the bodily sensations and generally speaking for the various mental states which are said to have (as it is variously put) raw feels, phenomenal features or qualia. The conclusion in each case is that the qualia are left out of the physicalist story. And the polemical strength of the Knowledge argument is that it is so hard to deny the central claim that one can have all the physical information without having all the information there is to have.
Is Jackson wrong? What other kind of evidence do you seek? A personal (subjective) experience?
I want to thank you all before hand for your comments!