We need proof
One of the challenges presented to people who believe in God by atheists is the lack of what is considered to be acceptable proof for His existence.
But what happens when you are given proof? The case of CV19
I think our experience with covid over the past two years provides a really interesting case study in terms of how people respond to a phenomenon where you could argue that the type of evidence atheists are looking for is available in abundance and yet there are still people who will deny:
- its existence (as happened at the very start of the pandemic)
- its severity (the old death with cv19 or death with cv19)
- the need for precautions (whether to socially distance, wear masks, get vaccines, get boosters)
- the need for any lifestyle changes (travel, socialising, going to cafes etc.)
- the need to address economic inequality (saying no to patent waivers)
Accepting proof can lead to behaviour change
The above list is interesting since the progression of the bullets shows how acceptance of the earlier points is more likely to lead to acceptance of the later ones. If you believe in the severity of the disease, you are more likely to make lifestyle changes in order to address the risks. But if you believe it is as dangerous as ordinary flu, then why make any change at all? All the way through the progression of the pandemic we have seen that there are people who are very resistant to any lifestyle changes - since these invariably involve prioritising health risks above the need to make money (economic activity) and maintain contemporary lifestyles (having fun).
But if you don't want change - question the evidence
And underpinning the difference between accepting the disease and challenging its existence & importance is the issue of evidence. What is the data, how do you interpret it and what inferences do you draw from it?
Throughout the pandemic we have seen people provide what they felt to be adequate evidence for each of the bullets above and for that evidence to be challenged. And even where the evidence has been accepted, there are the new issues raised, e.g. even if closing schools can be effective in slowing the transmission of the disease, we should not do so because of the impact on children's mental health.
Why are people resistant to change?
What the above tells me is that no matter how much proof is provided, you will always get rebuttals and/or people trying to find loopholes even for what is patently something that kills. But why do people do this?
The two most obvious reasons are that as a result of accepting the disease and therefore agreeing to respond to ti, people will need to make social and economic sacrifices i.e. they will need to give up things that they already have and behavioural economics tells us that loss aversion is an impediment to change - people really don't like losing what they already have.
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