Explaining the Burden of Proof

Dec 29, 2012

Cyclist wrote:

But see, there in lies the problem…unbelief in something does not make it untrue. Lets say I abandoned my belief in God, my abandonment of belief does not make him any less real.

Lets say for example, I decided man never went to the moon, that it was all a hoax. Does that make it any less real that they did?

Truthfully, you can not prove God doesn’t exist any more than I can prove that he does. You can offer why you believe he does not, but you can’t offer fact based evidence that shows he does not. I can offer why I believe he does exist but can not offer tangible fact based evidence that he does.

johnheadCyclist,

Correct, non-belief does not equal non-existence. I never said that it did and atheism, despite what many misinformed people may say and what you may have been told, is NOT the assertion that gods do not exist. That position is called anti-theism.

Correct, your abandonment of belief in gods will have no effect on whether or not gods actually exist. Your abandonment of belief does not make your god any less real. Likewise, your current belief in no way makes your god actually real.

Correct, if you told me that you disbelieve the claim that man walked on the moon you would be contesting a positive claim; that man did walk on the moon. The burden of proof would be upon the person making the claim. Let’s say I am the one making the claim. I could point you to the mountains of evidence like moon rocks, photos, and even video. Fake you say! OK, I could point a laser at one of the three retro reflectors that astronauts left on the surface and show how reflected laser light can be detected by a photo multiplier. I could even show you images taken recently by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter here which show the actual landing sites and left over crap from 40 years ago. The last thing I would do is tell you to have faith. There is no need for faith because we have evidence.

(Now if I told you man walked on Mars, I would have no evidence for that claim and you would be justified in not believing that claim)

I cannot prove your god doesn’t exist, but then again nobody bears any burden to disprove any claim. There have been more than a thousand different gods which have been worshiped and claimed to exist throughout recorded history. Should you be expected to disprove all of those gods? NO. Does your inability to disprove Thor or Oden mean that belief in Thor or Oden is justified? Certainly NOT.

Imagine I told you that there was a teapot in orbit around mars, you would have no way to disprove that. Would that inability to disprove my claim justify some belief that a teapot was orbiting Mars? NO. The default position with regard to any existential claim is to disbelieve until that claim is demonstrated to be true.

Going back to what I said in my previous post, I am not claiming there are no gods. All I am stating is that the theist has not met their burden of proof and there is no evidence yet discovered which can demonstrate that gods either exist or are required for the cosmos to operate. This is the null hypothesis, which by definition can never be proven.

If you can offer a good reason why you believe then let’s examine your reasoning for any flaws. Have at it.

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