A fantastic post on Shadow to Light about the intellectual justifications provided by academic atheists led to a discussion about just what sort of evidence is required for a scientist to conclude God doesn't exist. One of the better combox discussions recently, because I was dealing with someone with more rhetorical skill than usual - that's honestly a nice change of pace, because the Cult of Gnu attracts a considerable share of morons.
Takeaway points from the conversation:
* The one who makes a claim has to support said claim. Tell me science shows God doesn't exist, and the onus is on you to provide the scientific evidence. If you provide me with evidence and I say it fails, the onus is on me to explain why it fails. But you don't get to tell me science shows God doesn't exist, and then try to pass the burden to me.
* Don't try to compare God to the tasmanian devil, or other extinct species, with regards to finding evidence of their existence. The comparison won't just fail, it will crash and burn spectacularly.
* "Scientism" is a red herring, insofar as it's presented as an investment of too much faith in, or having too much respect for, science. This is not the Cult of Gnu sin. Their sin is the out and out abuse of science, the misrepresentation of it, sometimes willful. They are like caricatures of Young Earth Creationists, just with a single position reversed. They do not love science, they love the authority that comes with pretending they have a scientifically supported view. Who doesn't?
Mike's actual post is grand too, and he hits on a point that took me a while to remember. Saying that 'Prominent scientist believes God doesn't exist' sounds intimidating, because it implies the application of scientific knowledge in their finding. But how often does this really happen? Apparently, not very.