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Shifting the burden of proof?

 In debating the existence of a god, I often hear the believer say " But you can't prove god doesn't exist." And that's correct.

No one making the negative claim can prove non-existence.

But why is it acceptable to claim something is true until proven otherwise?

 
clarity333

Asked by clarity333 at 3:57 PM on Mar. 2, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 22 (13,098 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (27)
  • It is faulty logic. The burden of proof is always on the person claiming the assertion, because one cannot prove a negative. That's basic fact, not something subject to debate. Those who try to shift the burden simply aren't educated enough to grasp that. As long as someone insists on framing the argument in terms of "proof", yes, there is a burden of proof, and yes, it lies with the one claiming the assertion.

    The real fallacy there is insisting upon proof in relation to faith. They are mutually exclusive realms, no matter how much people on either side wish to claim the contrary.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:22 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • From who's assertion?

    From the basic laws of math and logic. You can prove a positive and you can prove a contra-positive. You can also negate these things in order to disprove them. But the two basic fallacies, proving an inverse or converse, involve essentially "proving a negative", where you make a bad conclusion based on partial proof. You can (theoretically) prove something exists by presenting evidence for it. You can (theoretically) prove something does not exist by proving something that prevents it from existing is true. You cannot prove the lack of something existing because there will always be an instance or circumstance yet untested in which that thing may exist. Since there is nothing built into the existence of God which can be cited as preventing it from existing, there is no supporting condition you can prove. It's a "convenience" of the definition of Abrahamic God.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 5:57 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • But why is it acceptable to claim something is true until proven otherwise?

    Exactly- how can you say that you know "the truth" and that there is no God without proving it?
    You never got back to me on the where the Universe started-how we got something from nothing-
    soyousay

    Answer by soyousay at 4:15 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • Because there is no way to prove that a god does exist, so that is the only argument they have.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:58 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • I suppose that's why it's called "faith"... It's not something they can ever prove with physical evidence, so technically, they can't claim "God DOES exist", they can only say they BELIEVE he exists.

    Having said that, I don't really see the difference between God, and Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Nobody can prove they don't exist, yet most adults would agree on Santa and the Tooth Fairynot being real. So why not feel the same way about God?
    Anouck

    Answer by Anouck at 4:16 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • Maybe not both, but perhaps I should have said no one has the burden really.

    I agree- I really do not feel burdened with proving God to anyone that does not believe- I do however find it interesting when people tell me that what I believe to be true is false and then shift the burden of proof back to me- I feel like- now wait-you said I was wrong and you can not prove it but some how I am the one dodging and ducking-hmmmm......
    soyousay

    Answer by soyousay at 4:48 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • Do you believe I have an invisible pink unicorn living in my back yard?

    No?

    Prove it!

    (snark) ;-)
    MamaK88

    Answer by MamaK88 at 6:00 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • Okay, Kennswifey, let's change that to unicorns and BIg Foot.... Like NotPanicking says, you can't prove a negative. The burden of proof lies with those who claim they know something exists.
    Anouck

    Answer by Anouck at 6:04 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • Love when people on here throw that around. I am just being clever.

    No, you are trying to sidestep rules of logic and reason to make a fallacious point.
    NotPanicking

    Answer by NotPanicking at 7:41 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • "I don't really see the difference between God, and Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Nobody can prove they don't exist"

    I am Sanda and the Tooth Fairy. My children have never gotten suprise gifts if I didn't do it, nor have I ever found a dollar replacing their tooth had I not done it. That proves that they do not exist.
    KennsWifey

    Answer by KennsWifey at 4:34 PM on Mar. 2, 2011

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