If that strikes you as rather obvious, I should add that many don’t seem to understand the implications of this. I’m speaking, as some of you may have guessed, of those who insist on assuming materialism when evaluating whether or not theism is true. If that’s one’s modus operandi, atheism is a foregone conclusion, and only thing left to be done is to drop the facade that we’re actually investigating theism.
At first blush, this may seem a rather obvious mistake to make–that very few would fall into this trap. I’d probably agree, were it not for the fact that I’ve encountered this approach more often than any other challenge to theism.
Every time someone declares that “science hasn’t found evidence for God” (apparently ignorant of the fact that science only looks for the material) is assuming that the material is the only thing out there to be studied.
When someone claims “belief in God is no different from believing in an invisible unicorn”, the same mistake is being made. Anyone who can’t see that inquiring into the truth of claims about physical things doesn’t automatically settle non-physical questions is assuming that the physical is all there is to study.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the statement “there’s no evidence for God” by anyone who didn’t end up insisting that evidence needs to be physical. If we’re simply throwing out the non-physical from the start, we’re assuming materialism.
There are many more examples, but the point is that all of these arguments rest on the assumption of materialism. This makes every last one of them a circulus in probando fallacy. If one needs to assume that materialism is true in order to make an argument against belief in God, then one’s case against God is only as strong as the case for materialism.