I, and many other people, have looked for where God is proposed to exist for almost the entirety of human history. It is possible that "God's existance" is the most looked for thing ever. But no data has ever been obtained that indicates God's existance.
This strikes me as more of a talking point than an actual argument. You're sitting back with your arms folded and demanding, "Show me the evidence." If there is no evidence forthcoming, you claim victory. It may be technically valid but it's weak.
It's always better to "know" things based on positive evidence rather than lack of evidence.
You have no problem saying "I know that the Loch Ness monster does not exist."
I do have a problem with that actually. I think the likelihood of the Loch Ness monster existing is much higher than the likelihood of fairies or gods existing - simply because there are no unnatural attributes required.
Stile has investigated and found no evidence where such evidence would be expected to be.
That could be because his expectations are unrealistic. If he expects to find an elephant in his living room and doesn't, it may be premature to conclude that elephants don't exist. He may need to broaden his scope.
Or do you maintain that we should stay in a constant state of agnosticism about any and all entities that do not exist?
I think we should maintain a healthy state of agnosticism about things that do exist too.
You don't actually maintain an agnostic position on the existence of Sherlock Holmes as a real person.
Allow me to tweak your example slightly. I have a book which purports itself to be an actual biography of James Bond. It tells what "really" happened in some of Bond's adventures and it also contends that some of them were just made up by Ian Fleming.
Nothing in the book suggests that it is fiction. So yes, I do maintain an agnostic position on whether James Bond was real. It's plausible that he was, just as it's plausible that Sherlock Holmes or Jesus was real. The one difference in Sherlock Holmes is that he was billed as fiction.
If we have checked all testable proposals, wouldn't you say that we have broadened our scope sufficiently to rationally say that "I know God does not exist?"
How long did it take to find the Northwest Passage? We've only just begun to explore one little corner of the universe, so I think it's ludicrously premature to pretend that we've broadened our scope sufficiently.
Do you know anything?
I can say that I "know" how to do long division. I think we should leave it at that.
Your idea of claiming we know something until we're proven wrong just seems silly to me.
If these snakes are invisible and leave no evidence of themselves, it makes no difference whether they exist or not - for all practical purposes they don't exist. And given the total lack of any evidence, only the delusional would continue to believe in them.
You're moving the goalposts. We're talking about "knowing" that God doesn't exist. Whether He exists "for practical purposes" is another question. If you can't find Him - and admittedly you've only looked in your own garden - that might mean that He doesn't matter but it has no bearing on whether or not He exists. As long as He could be "hiding", you can't legitimately claim that you "know" He doesn't exist.
It's an error to say absence of evidence is not indicative of a simple absence.
It's also an error to say that absence of evidence "is" evidence of absence. The proper approach is to say that absence of evidence can be evidence of absence. However, it is weak evidence at best, which is why the OP fails.
If you've taken every feasible effort to establish evidence of presence, if it's not found, then it IS evidence of absence.
The operative phrase there is "every feasible effort". As I mentioned earlier, evidence that there is no elephant in your living room says nothing about the overall existence of elephants. Evidence that there are no snakes in your garden says nothing about the overall existence of snakes. And evidence that there are no gods anywhere that we have looked says nothing about the overall existence of gods.
Creationists use the same argument as the OP: Nothing we have tried has produced life in the lab, therefore they "know" that life can not arise by natural means. I don't like it when they use it and I don't like it when you use it either.
I'm not asking for a lot, I'm not saying you have to produce God... just produce anything that even rationally points towards God.
Step outside tonight and look at the third star from the left. It's thirty-nine boolagazillion light-years away. Some day, if and when we develop the capability to study the planets orbiting around it, we might find God on the far side watching a really big big-screen TV.
That's the same position we were in with regard to the Northwest Passage in the 1600s - and your great-great ancestor was claiming that he knew the Northwest Passage didn't exist.
But how do you know that some unexpected anomolous result isn't around the corner?
We don't know absolutely. We have a high level of confidence.
This is the equivalent response to your examples that the invisible snakes and gods that have yet to reveal themselves are to Stile's and Tangle's examples.
Nonsense. The snakes could be living in the neighour's yard and naturally retreat there whenever Tangle looks for them. He can not reasonably say, "I know there are no snakes in my garden." He can only have a high degree of confidence that they're not there when he's actually looking.
The fact that we have checked on every rational indication that's ever been proposed for God's existance (like being in the sun or protecting innocent people...) and they have all come up negative for God's existance.
But that isn't a fact. I've proposed that God could be on a certain planet orbiting a certain star. You are not capable of testing that proposition any more than your ancestor was capable of testing a certain hypothetical passage through the ice in 1600.
So again, what makes it unlikely that God is there?