Atheism and burden of proof

Christina here…

I stumbled upon this blog, Choosing Hats.  On said blog, the author, BK, wrote about atheism and burden of proof. I shall quote it somewhat liberally, but you can read the whole post if you like:

This position of not having a burden of proof is fine until one considers that holding any position whatsoever – even one of skepticism – implies a lot of things about reality, knowledge, possibly ethics, etc.

So, the challenge for the atheist comes when they are presented with the question “Do you believe *the God of the Bible* exists?”

The God of the Bible isn’t like any other God. He claims that everyone knows he exists. He claims that he created the world. He claims that his existence is necessary for knowledge, ethics, aesthetics, etc. In short, he makes a bold claim about everyone’s ability to reason, weigh evidence, draw conclusions, etc. He claims that none of those actions that we all do on a daily basis would be possible unless he existed as described in the Bible.

So that opens up an interesting challenge to the atheist. They aren’t explicitly denying the existence of God when they say “I don’t believe he exists”, but they most definitely are *implicitly* denying his existence. Why is this? Well, it is because they are doing all these things that the God of the Bible claims ownership to, while at the same time they are saying “I don’t believe he exists.” They are relying upon all these basic beliefs that the God of the Bible claims *only* make sense if he exists.

To say they don’t believe he exists is to say that it is *possible* to do these things (reason, weigh evidence, etc.) without him existing. But God says it is not possible to do them without him existing. Therefore (by implication) they are saying “This kind of God *does not* exist”.

It isn’t an explicitly positive claim that God does not exist, but is rather an implicitly positive claim. Either way, it is a positive claim, and therefore they own a burden of proof.

In other words:

Someone Like Me: I don’t believe in This Thing.

Dude: But This Thing does exist.

Someone Like Me: Well, prove it.

Dude: I don’t have to. You have to prove The Thing does not exist.

Someone like me: Come again?

Dude: The Thing claims that The Thing is the reason that people can even reason about The Thing, because The Thing actually created reason and critical thinking, so you can’t even reason or think about The Thing without using tools that The Thing gave you. So, the burden of proof is on you to prove you can do reason without The Thing. Therefore The Thing is real, so there.

Someone like me:

Christina, looking confused.








Dude: Oh by the way, Jesus.

Someone like me: Wait, what?

What if I told you that the Ultimate Chili exists, and that the Ultimate Chili must exist because among other things, The Ultimate Chili claims that no chili can exist without the Ultimate Chili, because Chiliness is not possible without the Ultimate Chili giving chili its chiliness? We know chili exists, so now the burden of proof is on the a-ultimate-chilieist to prove that there is no Ultimate Chili. That makes just about as much sense.

Let me know when your god can prove that we are unable to reason without him. That’s a pretty powerful positive claim. He’s got to prove he exists first though…

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.


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