A fairly common rejoinder to atheists’ desire for concrete evidence to indicate the existence of a god is something along the lines of “well, you believe in love, don’t you?” The essence of the argument is that love, like god, doesn’t have any kind of physical form, can’t be seen, heard, tasted, smelt, or felt, and yet pretty much everyone (atheists included), believe that it exists. So, if you believe in love, how can you not believe in gods? Or, conversely, if you don’t believe in gods, how can you believe in love?
This is an equivocation. That’s when you pretend that two things that share only a superficial similarity are actually the same in order to apply to one of them an argument that only supports the other.
You see, god and love are not being said to exist in the same way, so the comparison isn’t actually valid. Love is an emotional state. It is generated in the brains of individual human beings. It manifests in people’s consciousness as a set of feelings. It manifests outwardly only in the way that it compels human beings to behave, and we are able to communicate to each other a shared understanding of how that feels and what actions it motivates. We can monitor brain states and see, physically, how the experience affects the brain. But love doesn’t have any existence outside of that. I don’t think most people believe that love is a conscious entity floating around in the universe doing things independently for its own reasons.
Now, you can accurately say that at least some people experience a god as a set of internal feelings. And that it manifest outwardly in the ways it compels people to behave. That we can communicate a sort of shared understanding of how it feels and what actions it motivates. We can even monitor brain states and see, physically, how the experience affects the brain. But then we’re asked to accept that the god does have an independent existence outside of that. We’re asked to believe that the god is a conscious entity floating around doing things independently for its own reasons.
That’s where the comparison completely breaks down. Evidence that is sufficient to believe in the existence of an emotional state is not also sufficient to believe in the existence of an independent conscious entity. They’re not even remotely the same thing. It’s like asking us to believe unicorns exist because we already believe the color pink exists.
Yeah, I believe in love. Just not God.