Showing posts with label burden of proof. Show all posts
Showing posts with label burden of proof. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

Theism and Belief: Why is the Burden on Us?

An atheist and a theist engage in a friendly debate about the topic of god; specifically, whether or not one exists. The crux of the atheists' argument is essentially that the evidence for the existence of a god is lacking and has not led to the acceptance (on the part of said atheist) of the hypothesis that such a being exists. The theists' bottom line sentiment is that the evidence is sufficient for people all around the world (him or herself included) and it is up to the atheist to accept this evidence/open their heart/be open minded etc (there are many platitudes that are used in this situation).

This discussion has taken place innumerable amounts of times throughout history, and I don't see any reason to believe that it will not continue to do so for at least the foreseeable future. What I find particularly striking about this fact is that the existence of god is one of the few topics for which it is acceptable to claim that the burden of belief/being convinced lies not on the strength of the evidence put forth to bolster the claim but rather on the target(s) of said claims. A few other topics for which this is true are UFO's, bigfoot and the Illuminati/New World Order. Would anyone care to venture a guess as to what it is that these topics have in common? 

There is no proof that any of them exist (none of them do in my not so humble opinion). 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Have Proof of Your God's Existence? Okay, Let's Hear It.

Believe in a god? Have proof of said god's existence? I'd like to hear it.

Anyone who happens to be reading this and think they have proof of the existence of their god of choice, let me have it. 

However, if I may, before you reveal it, I'd like to set 3 rules.

1) Arguments from incredulity are fallacious and I will not accept them.  For example, saying "Look at the world around you. sIt's too "perfect." It had to be created, therefore, there's obviously a God." This is a logical fallacy. Just because you cannot fathom any other explanation does not mean there isn't one. All you are really saying is "I don't know and I am inserting "god." There are MANY other possible explanations. Some more plausible than others. So please refrain from using this as "proof." I will not accept it.

2) These also are not valid and will not be accepted as "proof:"

-You can't prove there's not a god!

-Without god, people have no reason to be moral.

The first one is just stupid burden shifting (and still not proof anyways) and the scond one is just a bare assertion fallacy (and wrong) (and still not proof).

3) For people who believe in the "one true god....." whatever proof you do have, ask yourself, could that same proof not be utilized by someone else who believes in a different god? If so, how can it be valid for you and not them? Which your logic, their god must exist as well. For example, if you say "God speaks to me" and this is your proof, fine. However, if someone who believes in one of the 3799 other propsed gods says that as well, would that not be proof that their god also exists?

Okay, so if you think you have proof of god's existence and it does not consist of one of the above disqualified lines of reasoning, please do share it! Keep in mind, however, that this is for people who say they actually have proof, not for those who say it's based on faith.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Atheism 101 (Resources for those New to the idea of Atheism)

Some of My Resources for People New to the Idea of Atheism

One of my very first posts here was entitled Atheism is a Religion? and The Burden of Proof.

I just went back made a few changes to that post. The new version can be seen here:

I have added a few things and fixed up a few trouble areas. I believe this post will be much more useful to anyone stubling across this blog who may be interested in atheism in any regard, but is new to the idea and quite unaware of the sort of Atheism 101 type concepts. I have added some things to this end, like an operational definition of atheism.

Also, for anyone who fits this description, you may also want to check out:

and perhaps:

Thanks, and science bless ;)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Atheism is a Religion? and The Burden of Proof UPDATED

This blog will address 2 claims I see made with respect to atheism:

1) Atheism is (or has become) a religion.

2) It takes as much faith to be an atheist as it does a theist (ie, to not believe in a god requires evidence) aka The burden of proof argument, or the ''You can't prove god doesn't exist'' argument.

These of course aren't posited by all (probably not even most) believers, but they do come up often enough in online (and other) discourse.

However, before I get to the two main points, I would just like to operationally define atheism. It's actually quite simple, as atheism is not a worldvidew; it has no edicts, dogma, or tenets. It is literally and simply the lack of a belief in god(s).

Theism=belief in god(s) (deities)

Add the prefix 'a', which denotes lacking, or being without, to it, and you get:

A-theism, or atheism, the lack of a belief in god(s) (deities)

And that's it.

We can talk about agnosticism (which is not a 3rd option, but that's for another day), antitheism, secular humanism, stron atheism (aka there is no god) aka gnostic atheism, etc etc but do not let these ideas become red herrings in discussion. No matter what the Ray Comforts or the Pat Robertsons of the world tell you, that right there is atheism, and any and all beliefs in addition to this are extraneous (not that they cannot be built upon/from it, they can be, and are). All I have in common with other atheists is my atheism. After that, our ideologies will differ as will anybody else's. I might meet an atheist tomorrow who is socially conservative and thinks religion is a positive influence (aka my total opposite), etc.

Anyways, now that we have that under wraps, let's get to the two claims, shall we?

Claim #1: Atheism is a Religion

Point me to:
1) our church
2) our tenets
3) any atheist pageantry
4) where I pay my tithes

Claim #2: ''You can't prove god doesn't exist'' argument

The burden of proof is on the claimant. Not believing claims is not a claim. The burden of proof is on the theist, not the atheist. The ONLY atheists who must shoulder that burden are the gnostic (aka I know there is no god) atheists. The 99% of us that are rational don't claim knowledge. We lack the belief.
Saying I believe no gods exist is a statement that follows from my examination, and subsequent rejection of, the ''evidence'' for the existence of a god(s). I am not making a positive claim; I do NOT have the burden of proof. How would an atheist prove such a negative?

Russell's Teapot exemplifies this nicely:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. -Bertrand Russell, 1952 (unpublished article for Illustrated magazine)

Another way of looking at it is to ask yourself if you believe in the Loch Ness monster, and then ask yourself if it's up to you to prove it doesn't exist, or up to the people claiming it does to prove it. Remember, the lack of evidence is evidence. Not proof, mind you, not definitive, but certainly evidence.

Theists and atheists are not on equal ground. Saying ''I believe god exists'' is NOT equal to saying ''I believe no gods exist'' in terms of the burden of proof. I believe no gods exist because I have not been convinced otherwise. If no one had proposed a god, you would never say I have to prove this position. Now, because gods have been proposed, we're on equal ground?

No way. As soon as these gods were proposed, the burden of proof was on the ones making said propositions. If they fail to prove this claim is true, the person who continues to disbelieve is not suddenly required to provide evidence to show that this unbelief is justified.

This is why, in court, the crown has to prove the defendant is guilty. The defendant is NOT required to prove their innocence, and neither is the jury. The burden is on those making the claim. Until the person was brought up on charges, they were presumed innocent. As soon as the gulty claim was made, the burden of proof was created, and it rests on those making the claim. If this burden is not met (aka reasonable doubt) the propsoal is rejected aka disbelieved, without any further burden on the disbelievers.

This is allegorical to the atheists. Until a god is posited, I'm an atheist. Once a theist comes by and makes their case, the burden is on them. If, at the end of their presentation, I say ''I find the evidence lacking, I do not believe you,'' they don't get to say ''but you didn't PROVE that he doesn't exist!'' That job is theirs.
Theirs and theirs alone.

Unless of course I retort with "I know there is no god!" In that case, I say, good luck, pal ;)