Burden of Proof: Really?
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20-02-2013, 08:05 AM
Burden of Proof: Really?
Hi, I take issue with the “burden of proof” argument many atheists use. They say that it is the theists’ task to prove the existence of God, because “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, as Carl Sagan puts it. But obviously, theists and atheists won’t agree which one of those respective claims is the extraordinary one. It isn’t necessarily so that the claim of existence of anything is the extraordinary one: for example, in the case of ether (the assumed medium where electromagnetic waves propagate), it was the claim of nonexistence that was deemed extraordinary and had to be proven. It seems to me that “extraordinary” in fact means “contrary to intuition/common knowledge”, and that is a relative thing.

I think that the key principle that gives atheists the upper hand is in fact Occam’s razor: if two theories both explain a full set of observed phenomena, the one with simpler set of assumptions is to be prefered.

If you think you can beat the aforementioned “annoying relativism”, I will be learn...or just read any of your thoughts on that subject.
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20-02-2013, 08:18 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(20-02-2013 08:05 AM)Averroes Wrote:  Hi, I take issue with the “burden of proof” argument many atheists use. They say that it is the theists’ task to prove the existence of God, because “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, as Carl Sagan puts it. But obviously, theists and atheists won’t agree which one of those respective claims is the extraordinary one. It isn’t necessarily so that the claim of existence of anything is the extraordinary one: for example, in the case of ether (the assumed medium where electromagnetic waves propagate), it was the claim of nonexistence that was deemed extraordinary and had to be proven. It seems to me that “extraordinary” in fact means “contrary to intuition/common knowledge”, and that is a relative thing.

I think that the key principle that gives atheists the upper hand is in fact Occam’s razor: if two theories both explain a full set of observed phenomena, the one with simpler set of assumptions is to be prefered.

If you think you can beat the aforementioned “annoying relativism”, I will be learn...or just read any of your thoughts on that subject.


You don't understand the burden of proof.

The burden is on the one making the existence claim. The 'extraordinary' comes in when the claim is extraordinary, so must be the proof.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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20-02-2013, 08:38 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
I'd just settle for ordinary proof that is logically linked to a god-being. All they seem to have is the argument from ignorance for whatever "evidence" they provide.

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20-02-2013, 09:17 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(20-02-2013 08:18 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(20-02-2013 08:05 AM)Averroes Wrote:  Hi, I take issue with the “burden of proof” argument many atheists use. They say that it is the theists’ task to prove the existence of God, because “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, as Carl Sagan puts it. But obviously, theists and atheists won’t agree which one of those respective claims is the extraordinary one. It isn’t necessarily so that the claim of existence of anything is the extraordinary one: for example, in the case of ether (the assumed medium where electromagnetic waves propagate), it was the claim of nonexistence that was deemed extraordinary and had to be proven. It seems to me that “extraordinary” in fact means “contrary to intuition/common knowledge”, and that is a relative thing.

The burden is on the one making the existence claim.


Not necessarily - that was the point of my ether example. Whatever you argue about, your default position is not "it doesnt exist", but rather the position that seems intuitive to you.
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20-02-2013, 09:20 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(20-02-2013 09:17 AM)Averroes Wrote:  
(20-02-2013 08:18 AM)Chas Wrote:  The burden is on the one making the existence claim.


Not necessarily - that was the point of my ether example. Whatever you argue about, your default position is not "it doesnt exist", but rather the position that seems intuitive to you.


Again, no.
Non-existence is not provable; non-existence is always the default until evidence for existence is discovered.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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20-02-2013, 11:22 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
That there is no evidence of anything supernatural having ever occurred, any claim of the supernatural is extraordinary. The ether was shown to not exist when Michaelson and Morley tried to measure the Earth's velocity through it and found that its existence was incompatible with measurements.
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20-02-2013, 11:56 AM (This post was last modified: 20-02-2013 12:15 PM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(20-02-2013 08:05 AM)Averroes Wrote:  Hi, I take issue with the “burden of proof” argument many atheists use. They say that it is the theists’ task to prove the existence of God, because “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, as Carl Sagan puts it. But obviously, theists and atheists won’t agree which one of those respective claims is the extraordinary one. It isn’t necessarily so that the claim of existence of anything is the extraordinary one: for example, in the case of ether (the assumed medium where electromagnetic waves propagate), it was the claim of nonexistence that was deemed extraordinary and had to be proven. It seems to me that “extraordinary” in fact means “contrary to intuition/common knowledge”, and that is a relative thing.

I think that the key principle that gives atheists the upper hand is in fact Occam’s razor: if two theories both explain a full set of observed phenomena, the one with simpler set of assumptions is to be prefered.

If you think you can beat the aforementioned “annoying relativism”, I will be learn...or just read any of your thoughts on that subject.

Yay, another excuse to pull out one of my favorite YouTube videos! Fortunately theists give me plenty of chances to post this gem of knowledge.





:EDIT: Seriously, I've posted this video at least 3 times in the last 2 months...

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20-02-2013, 12:17 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
Geez, really? Like Evolutionkills' Walrus on Pluto or the more well known argument of Russell's Teapot (see below), the burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders of the claimant, period, no ifs and or buts.

Bertrand Russell proposed the idea of a teapot orbiting the sun between the Earth and Mars in 1952. The teapot is too small to detect with any instrument, so it’s impossible to prove this claim wrong.
Russell pushes the teapot contention to the limit:
Quote:But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is 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.
How valid is the comparison of God with an orbiting teapot? We know that there are teapots, and we know how to put things into solar orbits. It’s just technology, and an orbiting teapot violates no scientific laws. But the God hypothesis is far bolder because it demands a new category, that of supernatural beings. They may exist, but science acknowledges no examples.
Is there such a teapot? Maybe, but why live as if there is? We can’t invalidate the teapot hypothesis, but that’s not the same as proving it true or even showing that it’s worthy of consideration.
We don’t give equal time to the orbiting teapot hypothesis, so why give equal time to similar claims that are equally poorly evidenced, like God?
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamin...ls-teapot/

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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 in Eruption
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20-02-2013, 12:24 PM (This post was last modified: 20-02-2013 01:05 PM by Full Circle.)
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(20-02-2013 09:17 AM)Averroes Wrote:  
(20-02-2013 08:18 AM)Chas Wrote:  The burden is on the one making the existence claim.
Not necessarily - that was the point of my ether example. Whatever you argue about, your default position is not "it doesnt exist", but rather the position that seems intuitive to you.

Personal intuition is a poor thing to hang your hat on without further examination.

Definition of INTUITION

1

: quick and ready insight

2

a : immediate apprehension or cognition
b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

Throughout history conversions happen at the point of a sword, deconversions at the point of a pen - FC

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 in Eruption
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20-02-2013, 12:36 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(20-02-2013 08:05 AM)Averroes Wrote:  But obviously, theists and atheists won’t agree which one of those respective claims is the extraordinary one.

Maybe this will help.

As an atheist, I claim that the universe exists. But that is all I claim because I don't really know how or why it exists and I don't claim to have such knowledge. As a theist, you claim that the universe exists and you claim that god created it.

We both agree on the first point so there is no debate; the universe exists. You, however, are the one with a second claim. You're making the claim, regardless of whether we call it extraordinary or not. Your claim that god created the universe is your claim and the burden of proof is on you to support that claim.

As for the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" quote, well, that is only talking about the magnitude of the claim. For example:

"I have a pet dog". There, I made a claim. How much evidence do you want? Maybe you'll even take my word for it without evidence; after all, hundreds of millions of people on this planet own dogs, maybe even billions of people. It's a very ordinary thing to own and claiming to own a dog is very ordinary. Now that I have told you I own a dog, will you demand to see it, touch it, examine it, just to verify my claim? Will you demand that I provide proof? Probably not, that would be silly - we're just talking about a dog.

"I have a pet fire-breathing dragon". There, I made a claim. Now how much evidence do you want? Will you take my word for it without evidence? Probably not, since there are no known dragons in the world, no dragon fossils, no evidence at all that dragons are real, and certainly nobody has ever demonstrated that they own one, so why would you take my word for it? Would you accept a photo of me and my pet dragon? Probably not, those can be faked. What about a few testimonials from my friends and neighbors? Probably not, they could be lying, or maybe I tricked them somehow. Wouldn't you demand to see it, touch it, examine it? Of course you would - you certainly won't just believe that I have a pet dragon without first satisfying your need for proof.

My first claim was easy, ordinary, and you probably won't care but if you did, you'd probably require little or no proof. My second claim was very extraordinary, and you almost certainly will not believe that I have a pet dragon. Equally certainly, you will demand very conclusive proof before you start believing that claim.

That's the difference between ordinary and extraordinary claims, and the amount of evidence each requires.

(20-02-2013 08:05 AM)Averroes Wrote:  I think that the key principle that gives atheists the upper hand is in fact Occam’s razor: if two theories both explain a full set of observed phenomena, the one with simpler set of assumptions is to be prefered.

You're right.

But the trick to Occam's Razor is to phrase the question right.

Consider:

Which is more likely:
God made the universe and all of us.
or
A gazillion random unexplained and unknown events happened to randomly cause the universe to exist, to randomly cause the earth to exist, to mysteriously create life, and to randomly evolve that life into us through a series of trillions of random and unexplained and unproven random events.

When you put it that way, Occam's Razor seems to point at the existence of god.

But consider this:

Which is more likely:
The universe has always existed and life is random.
or
An impossibly all-powerful being with no reason for his power and no explanation for the how, why, where, or when of his existence, who also impossibly knows everything and always has, even when he existed all alone in an empty universe with nothing for him to know, has always existed for no reason and for no reason decided to make a universe that is big enough to hold a gazillion planets full of intelligent sentient beings but he only created one planet, earth, where he put only one sentient species for no apparent reason.

Now it looks like Occam's Razor points at the non-existence of god.

But when you trim out all the BS and all the presuppositions and ask the question fairly, it looks more like this:

Which is more likely:
The universe exists.
or
The universe exists and god exists.

I'll let you decide what Occam's Razor points to.

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