When does information become evidence? Is information evidence just because we call it evidence? Does information have to pass some sort of a test in order to be considered evidence, or can anything be considered evidence just because we believe it is evidence or because we say it is evidence?
These are some of the questions which have presented themselves to me when I have tried to discuss what constitutes "evidence" with a believer. A believer has already come to a conclusion, so I doubt that evidence is actually required. I think the process of determining evidence is flawed if you already believe that your proposition is true. This can apply whether you have an economic belief, a cultural belief, a political belief or a religious belief.
If a conclusion has already been reached, the temptation is to select information which is compatible with the already held belief and to discard information which is incompatible. That is, a process of "cherry-picking" the information which is called evidence, takes place.
Does a believer actually weigh the information and test it for veracity so that they can then consider the information as evidence? I don't think they do. But this is exactly what a religious person told me that they do. I was told that they believe in allah/god because of "the evidence."
Now my opinion on god belief is exactly that. It is a belief and as such it doesn't require evidence. As a christian, you are required to believe that jesus died on the cross for your sins regardless of the information or lack of it, which supports this belief. It is entirely a matter of faith. And as a result, god believers BELIEVE that the existence of a god or gods best explains inexplicable or intangible conditions.
Mind you, when I was a believer, I didn't believe for those reasons. I held religious beliefs because it gave me comfort to believe, which is precisely the same reason why millions of people still believe. Now, because I received emotional and psychological comfort from belief, isn't evidence for the existence of whatever it was I was believing in. It does suggest however, that the process of believing (not specifically in gods), may produce physicochemical or psychochemical reactions which the mind and body probably find pleasurable.
Anyway that wasn't specifically what I wanted to write about. I want to ascertain when information is categorized as evidence.
Information is evidence if it can be confirmed as evidence. It is NOT evidence just because we believe it is or because we say it is. When trying to confirm something or trying to establish the certainty or validity of something else, information is presented which is then tested to see if it can be considered as evidence.
In order to confirm something as evidence, the information presented needs to be established as being relevant, true or genuine. Information cannot be presented as evidence in order to authenticate a proposition, theory, or concept unless these criteria are met. The information isn't evidence unless it can be shown to corroborate, to demonstrate, to validate, or to verify something else. In orther words, for the information to constitute evidence, it must be demonstrated that it is directly related to the proposition in question.
If ALL information can be considered evidence then the word "evidence" becomes meaningless.
I will use this proposition as an example. ~" My poop doesn't smell because it is a full moon." Not many people would suggest that because it is a full moon that this is information which would be classified as evidence as to why my poop doesn't stink. In other words, that which is presented as evidence must be able to be shown to be directly related to, or to be acting as a direct influencing factor upon the initial claim. So how do we determine if information is evidence?
All information is not evidence, but all evidence is information. The difference is that the information you claim as evidence needs to be able to be demonstrated as influencing the proposition which you are trying to prove.
If I claim that grass is green because of the existence of the "green tutu fairy", believing that the green tutu fairy exists is not evidence that grass is green BECAUSE of the existence of the green tu tu fairy. This would be considered a logical fallacy and an example of circular reasoning.
It might be admissible as evidence if and when I can demonstrate the existence of the green tutu fairy. And even if I can demonstrate the existence of the green tutu fairy, I need to be able to directly correlate green grass with the green fairy. I need to be able to demonstrate HOW they are related.
Once again, I need to be able to demonstrate how that which I claim as evidence, is directly linked to the proposition I am trying to prove. I need to be able to demonstrate how the green tutu fairy did it.
This is information. "I believe in the existence of the green tutu fairy." This is information because I have now imparted to you what I believe. It doesn't mean that the information is accurate. Nor does it mean that it is inaccurate. It doesn't mean that the green tutu fairy exists, nor does it mean that the green tutu fairy doesn't exist.
This is information which claims to be evidence. " I believe that grass is green because of the green tutu fairy." This is information which cannot be considered evidence to verify the colour of grass because:
1. Evidence for the existence of the green tutu fairy would be necessary or we are just indulging in circular reasoning.
2. Let's say the green tutu fairy exists, how do we confirm that it is the reason why grass is green?
3. How do we demonstrate that they are directly related?
Evidence does not require belief that it is evidence. Information is evidence if it can be demonstrated to be evidence. My believing it to be evidence doesn't make it any more valid than believing that my shit doesn't stink. By the way, I can demonstrate that my shit stinks, but I am sure most of you will take my word for it.
Unfortunately, this is what god believers do all the time. They claim that something else is evidence for the existence of their god. In reality, they need to provide evidence for the existence of the god first, then we can discuss what they claim their god does. God believers begin with the belief that god exists. This is why they are called "god believers." In an attempt to validate and legitimise their belief, they shoehorn every bit of information they have about the world into that belief and call it "evidence" for the existence of their god.
The process of shoehorning is diametrically opposed to the scientific method. This is information. "My grass is green."
This is information which is also evidence as to why my grass is green.
"My grass is green because of the existence of chlorophyll."
It is information AND evidence because: ~
1. The existence of chlorophyll can be observed.
2. The existence of chlorophyll can be confirmed as molecules which absorb sunlight and use its energy to synthesise carbohydrates from CO2 and water.
3. The existence of chlorophyll is responsible for the perception that my grass is green.
The existence of chlorophyll in grass is evidence which explains why my grass is green. I don't need to believe that it is evidence for it to be classified as evidence. It is evidence because it can be demonstrated to be evidence. It is evidence because it can be demonstrated to be information which is directly linked to why I perceive my grass as being green.
A broken window is not automatically evidence of a burglary. It is information that may or may not be evidence that a burglary was committed. It becomes admissible evidence when it is determined that a burglary has been committed. Up until then, it is just information which may or may not be relevant or pertinent to the case in question.
In the same way, a flower is not automatically evidence of the existence of a god. It is information that may or may not be evidence that a god exists. It becomes admissible evidence when it is determined that a god actually exists. Up until then, it is just information which may or may not be relevant or pertinent to the case in question and does NOT constitute "evidence."
"Evidence doesn't have a personal opinion."
(Yes, the misappropriation amd misuse of words in an attempt to gain authenticity or legitimacy for an already held belief, gives me the shits.)