The December issue of Intelligent Life magazine describes a certain horticultural parable first told by the mid-19th century British philosopher John Wisdom.

Here’s the parable:

Two people return to their long neglected garden and find, among the weeds, that a few of the old plants are surprisingly vigorous. One says to the other, “It must be that a gardener has been coming and doing something about these weeds.” The other disagrees… They pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. The believer wonders if there is an invisible gardener, so they patrol with bloodhounds but the bloodhounds never give a cry. Yet the believer…insists that the gardener is invisible, has no scent and gives no sound. The sceptic doesn’t agree, and asks how a so-called invisible, intangible, elusive gardener differs from an imaginary gardener, or even no gardener at all.


Wisdom’s parable raises a pretty important religious question: is the world watched over by a loving God? Since we can’t touch, taste, see, or hear this God — at least in the verifiable laboratory sense — is it reasonable to assume that this God (or, um, gardener) exists at all?

Here’s what the article’s author, Anthony Gottlieb, had to say about Gardener’s old parable:

It seems that no evidence could make the man who believes in a gardener concede that he was wrong. Come what may, he will hang on to his faith in a guiding hand with green fingers.

The guy who believes in the gardener won’t accept the lack of evidence as disproof of his invisible-gardener theory. The obvious follow-up question, then is What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute for you a disproof of the love of, or of the existence of, God?

I think that’s a really interesting question, so I thought I’d pose it to you guys. Aside from a few of the atheists who read my blog — and I love that you folks are here (stick around, please!) — most of us believe in God. Despite the lack of physical, demonstrable evidence, we believe.

So here’s the question: What would it take to make you stop believing? Is there anything that, once and for all, would disprove to you the existence of God?

Let’s discuss.

[Thanks to my friend, Matt, for the H/T.]

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