Argument from silence
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10-02-2014, 04:34 PM
Argument from silence
Is an argument from silence a logical fallacy?

At issue is the lack of any evidence from the secular record that Jesus actually existed. Theist says that's an "argument from silence" and proves nothing. OK. I'd have to agree with that. I counter with Russell's Teapot. He brushes that off and demands that I produce "documentary evidence from the first century" that Jesus did not exist. Where do I go from here?

Humans arrived on Earth on 22 October 4004 B.C. A few of us are still trying to repair the ship.
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10-02-2014, 04:39 PM
RE: Argument from silence
I would say, why is the onus of proving evidence that Jesus existed on you? It's as if to say, prove there WASN'T a guy in history named Gibberish who was a brilliant philosopher. Why do I have to prove that guy wasn't around. Shouldn't the burden of proof be with the person claiming there was such a person?
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10-02-2014, 04:41 PM
RE: Argument from silence
LOL. Are we gonna run around disproving every possible fictional character? Tell him to fuck off.
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10-02-2014, 04:46 PM
RE: Argument from silence
This might help you.


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10-02-2014, 05:14 PM
RE: Argument from silence
Argument from silence is a potential fallacy, not a disproof.

If, given a premise, you EXPECT to find evidence, yet you find none, you are entitled to draw some conclusions from the absence of evidence UNLESS there is some reasonable explanation for its absence.

Example: Let's say you accuse me of smoking a pack of cigarettes today. You check my house and my car. No sign of cigarette odor, no sign of smoke or ash, no butts. My hands and breath do not smell like cigarettes.

I will argue based on the absence of evidence that I did NOT smoke today.

You may still explain that I had time to clean up and shower and use mouthwash, etc, that I discarded the cigarette butts and the ashes in a neighbor's garbage can, etc. Are your explanations for the missing evidence reasonable? Yes. They are exactly what a smoker would do to hide the fact that he's smoking. So I am not entitled to make a case strictly from the absence of evidence. At the same time, you are having trouble proving your case because you are not finding the evidence you would expect to find.

Mormonism suffers a great deal from the absence of evidence for the pre-European civilizations that flourished in the Americas in ancient times. Archaeology reveals the Book of Mormon to be of no historical value. There, the absence of evidence shouts loud. The civilizations described by the Book of Mormon simply did not exist. And the explanation for the absence of evidence is not reasonable.

When it comes to Jesus as history, ask yourself: What evidence would you expect to exist? Does the absence of that evidence have a reasonable explanation? Are you comfortable with not being certain?

I'm not certain Jesus existed. I think he did. I think a historical Jesus explains the rise of Christianity better than a mythical one. But I would never go so far as to say it's certain he did. I don't think it's certain at all. What's certain is that if he DID exist, he bore very little resemblance to the virgin-born water-walking flying zombie of the gospels.
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10-02-2014, 05:41 PM
RE: Argument from silence
(10-02-2014 04:34 PM)f stop Wrote:  He brushes that off and demands that I produce "documentary evidence from the first century" that Jesus did not exist. Where do I go from here?

Asking for that is completely irrational. donotwant's video is a good explanation why this is so.

You have the right to ask him to produce documentary evidence from the first century that Jesus DID exist. Of course he'll point to the Bible and then that can of worms is opened since the Bible wasn't cobbled together until centuries later but chances are he won't believe that.

I don't hold out much hope for a person who is asking for you to prove a negative.

Richard Carrier does a good job of explaining this here http://infidels.org/library/modern/richa...heory.html

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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10-02-2014, 06:09 PM
RE: Argument from silence
(10-02-2014 04:34 PM)f stop Wrote:  Is an argument from silence a logical fallacy?

At issue is the lack of any evidence from the secular record that Jesus actually existed. Theist says that's an "argument from silence" and proves nothing. OK. I'd have to agree with that. I counter with Russell's Teapot. He brushes that off and demands that I produce "documentary evidence from the first century" that Jesus did not exist. Where do I go from here?

The burden of proof is always upon the person who makes a positive claim, meaning it is his responsibility to provide evidence.

He is asking you for "negative proof" which cannot be done, and his request is a logical fallacy. He is asking you to prove a negative, which as others have pointed out, is like walking into an empty room where a guy says there is a chair in the middle of the room when there obviously isn't. You rightfully say, "No chair exists here," and he then tells you to provide evidence that there is no chair.

In short .... his argument is fucking retarded.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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10-02-2014, 06:16 PM
RE: Argument from silence
Quote:Is an argument from silence a logical fallacy?

No it is frequently misunderstood by people who have a deeply held desire not to understand much of anything.

For example, there is absolutely no evidence that in 1831 a fleet of Martian space ships landed along the Missouri River and had a gang bang with the Indians.

The fact that there is no evidence for or against this proposition does not mean that it might have happened. However, were I to assert that it did happen it would be my responsibility to produce evidence that it happened. It would not be your responsibility to show that it did not.

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10-02-2014, 06:18 PM
RE: Argument from silence
(10-02-2014 04:34 PM)f stop Wrote:  Is an argument from silence a logical fallacy?

At issue is the lack of any evidence from the secular record that Jesus actually existed. Theist says that's an "argument from silence" and proves nothing. OK. I'd have to agree with that. I counter with Russell's Teapot. He brushes that off and demands that I produce "documentary evidence from the first century" that Jesus did not exist. Where do I go from here?

The burden of proof is always upon the person who makes a positive claim, meaning it is his responsibility to provide evidence.

He is asking you for "negative proof" which cannot be done, and his request is a logical fallacy. He is asking you to prove a negative, which as others have pointed out, is like walking into an empty room where a guy says there is a chair in the middle of the room when there obviously isn't. You rightfully say, "No chair exists here," and he then tells you to provide evidence that there is no chair.

In short .... his argument is fucking retarded.

How can anyone become an atheist when we are all born with no beliefs in the first place? We are atheists because we were born this way.
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10-02-2014, 06:19 PM
RE: Argument from silence
Doesn't sound like an Argument from Silence FALLACY to me:


http://www.logicallyfallacious.com/index.php/logical-fallacies/55-argument-from-silence


Argument from Silence

argumentum e silentio

Description: Drawing a conclusion based on the silence of the opponent, when the opponent is refusing to give evidence for any reason.

Logical Form:

Person 1 claims X is true, then remains silent.

Person 2 then concludes that X must be true.

Example #1:

Jay: Dude, where are my car keys?

Bob: (says nothing)

Jay: I KNEW you took them!

Explanation: Refusal to share evidence is not necessarily evidence for or against the argument. Bob’s silence does not mean he took the keys. Perhaps he did, or perhaps he knows who did, or perhaps he saw a tyrannosaurus eat them, or perhaps he just felt like not answering.

Example #1:

Morris: Oh youthful spirit, you have so much to learn. I know for a fact that there are multiple dimensions that beings occupy.

Clifton: How can you possibly *know* that for a fact?

Morris: (raises one eyebrow, stares deeply into the eyes of Clifton and says nothing)

Clifton: Wow. You convinced me!

Explanation: The reason this technique works so well, is because imagined reasons are often more persuasive than real reasons. If someone wants to be convinced, this technique works like a charm. However, to the critical thinker, this will not fly. Silence is not a valid substitute for reason or evidence.

Exception: Generally speaking, absence of evidence is not evidence; however, there are many cases where the reason evidence is being held back can be seen as evidence. In the above example, prompting Bob to share a reason for his silence could result in a statement from Bob that can be used as evidence.



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