But you're missing the point.<quoted text>
I got to thinking about this a bit more. Of *course* absence of evidence is evidence of absence. It may not be *conclusive* evidence of absence, but it certainly is evidence. Furthermore, why is it not conclusive? Because you may not have looked in the correct places, or with the correct means, etc. But if you have looked extensively, and by a variety of means, then the prolonged absence of evidence *is* evidence of absence that increases in quality for each new way of looking and number of times looked.
As an example, there is a law of physics: the law of conservation of mass/energy. The absence of evidence that this law is violated after many and repeated attempts (perpetual motion machines, for example) is, in fact, evidence of absence. Given the number of ways we have looked and the strictness of the law (hence the high degree of testability), the prolonged absence of evidence of violations is very, very good evidence for that law.
So the question then becomes at what point does absence of evidence become strong evidence of absence? Well, we have to have searched in many different way and over a long period of time. We have to have searched in ways that, if the existence was true, we would have found evidence.
So, lets do this: what precise search method that is public and independently verifiable will lead to the detection of a deity? This method should give a different answer if there is no deity than if there is one (or many) and should be such than even an unbeliever will be able to observe the evidence as unambiguous evidence of existence.
If no such method exists, then the default position is the non-existence, just like it would be for Bigfoot, a supersymmetric particle, or an elephant in my room.
There are ways to locate Bigfoot. It has not been discovered even though many many people look for it. All you need is your eyes to see it & any camera to record it.
Same goes for an elephant in your room.
There are no means of analyzing God in the same sense. Your eyes do not see Him. Your ears do not hear Him. Your senses seem to betray you. All known forms of detection fail.
So does that mean God doesn't exist or you simply lacks the means to detect Him?
There have been billions of people around the world (including myself) that claims to have felt, heard or seen God in various different ways.
Until someone comes up with a way of actually detecting the supernatural or detecting God, an atheists opinion of no God is just that - an opinion, not fact.