This quote was on Theology Web recently, it's obvously an atheist. But I can't find the url or the thread at all. nevertheless I think the quite is general enough it doesn't matter who said it. This encapsulates the basic atheist desire for scientific proof of God. I kind of like the way I answer this:
Atheists are often known to ask:
Scientific evidence is not faith. Science is not faith based. Why doesn't God show Himself or give scientific evidence for His existence?
The questions that science poses and the questions that religious belief pose are totally different sorts of questions. There are points of overlap. Most of these stem form the ages before science really had an systematic to it, the ancient world, pre historic world. These are the days when the most sophisticated scientific knowledge was smelting and sword making, and even that was not understood in a way that we would call "scientific." In that setting it was natural (meaning logical and practical) to use religion as the explanation for the natural world. From this era when people looked to religion to make it answer questions it can't answer, we have hold over ideas (such as Genesis creation myth--which we need to learn how to read as a myth--and that means we need to learn the value in myth) that we have these conflicts.
Understanding the workings of the natural world does not require faith, it requires skills we posess, thinking skills to make systemic use of what we learn, the five senses to gather empirical data, and that means we are limited in that domain to knowledge which can be gleaned empirically.
How are we going to understand the nature of begin empirically when we can't get outside of being to study it? We can understand it from the standpoint of beings in being, but that's subjective. We can't get outside of being to understand what being is. Just supposes for the sake of argument that we believe that God is imagining the world. Our physical existence is similar to that of the "matrix" (I hate that movie) or the Holodeck on Star Treck TNG, (better) in that God is imagining the world. We are figments of God's imagination. Let's just say that for now.
How are we going to know that? We can't get outside of God's imagination because that is the part and parcel of our whole existence. We can't exist outside of that because that's what we are. How can we step outside of what we are to see what that means?
Suppose you had a big room with lots of objects and one pair of scales. Your task is to weigh every object in the room. You have only one pair of scales. how can you weigh the scales themselves?
All you can do is to find an object that feels as heavy as the scales and weigh it. That could be off by a lot, but it's the only way other than just guessing that you are going to get a true reading. Let's also assume that there are materials in the room to build another pair of scales.
That's why my post is about. It's a means of taking some kind of soundings of something that is beyond our ability to sound out. Now you assert that faith is nothing more than belief without any sort of reason just some wild leap in the darkness for no reason. That is a misunderstanding of faith. That is not what faith is. [i][b]Faith is the ability to place confidence in a partially proved hypothesis.[/b][/i]
This means there is evidence upon which faith is based. It's the evidence that amounts to the reasons why we believe. We do not believe because we are idiots or because our parents told us to or any of the other stupid ideas that atheists come up with to convince themselves that they are superior. We believe for highly personal reasons, we believe for subjective reasons.
At this point we raise one more concept that atheists can't handle. Atheist are scared to death of subjectivity. This why atheist cling to empiricism and to scientist ideologies. Because they are scared to death of the subjective. But guess what? there is no objectivity. Humans are not objective. The subject object dichotomy is a sham. There are only varying degrees of subjectivity there is real objectivity.
All scientific knowledge requires an ideological reading at some point. If you read thew works of Thomas Kuhn (No he was not a Christan he was not a creationist such ideas are stupidly idiotic but atheists have concluded that we was because I use him in arguments) if you read his works you will see that scinece turns on ideology. The paradigm is basically a just like a political ideology. When the paradigm shifts, which makes science work, the paradigm becomes like a political machine and is defended exactly like a political regime under attack. So the atheist pretense that faith vs atheism is really faith vs science is nothing more than their ideological reading. Science is not atheism an dit is no a tool of atheism any more than it is a tool of religion. Science is systematic gleaning of human knowledge about the workings of the physical world. There is nothing in that proposition that is anti-religious.
The ideology of scientific empiricism reduces knowledge and thought to a point where all counter phenomena are lost. So spiritual experience becomes a misfire of some chemical in your head. Before you know it you are not even talking about spiritual experience anymore, you've lost the phenomena. Then the reductionist pretends it never existed.
Because reductionism and empiricism are factually oriented they reduce all knowledge to facts about the world. So it is predictable that they understand belief in God adding a fact to the world. This is why they go through this stuff about "faith is not based on any evidence." Because they only accept as evidence that which supports their ideology.
God is not just anther thing in the universe. God is the basis of all that is. God is not on the list with existing things, not because there is no God but because God is transcendent of "thingness." God is not just another thing alongside "stuff" in creation. God is the basis upon which "stuff" exists.
This means God requires a different kind of evidence and different level of knowing than do scientific facts. You have to talk differently you have to read a different set of books, you have to hold a different set of epistemic priorities. Given all that God belief is backed up by a wealth of knowledge, but you have to understand that new way of understanding. Its' not reductionism. It's holistic. It's not [b][i]empiricism[/i][/b] it is [b][i]phenomenology[/i][/b]