Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


Burden of Proof - Burden of Being Very Convincing

ESSENTIALS

 

The burden of proof or the duty to try to present a decent defence of a claim rests on the person making the claim.  When you make a claim, it is your responsibility to back it up.  It is a kind of lie if you can't or won't provide reasons and evidences.

 

The burden of proof is always on the person who says x is true or seems to be. In the first case you have to prove x is true and then in the second you have to prove that x seems true.


Thus feelings are no good as proof/evidence.


Thus their experience is no good as proof/evidence.  It is no good to anybody who is not them.  And many people claim to experience things they couldn't have.

 

They need to present good reasons and good evidence that will make it possible for another to think that what they say is likely to be true.

 

Not only is their feelings and experience no good it is a violation of the burden of proof. Why? Because depending on them is totally defiant of what truth is all about.

 

The burden of proof is not just on a person who says x exists but also on the person who says it does not exist. Both are making claims and any claim calls the burden of proof down on itself. The burden of proof rests on the person saying God exists. If you want to check this out with evidence that is fine but does not mean the burden of proof rests on you. It does not for you are not the one making the claim.  The burden of proof demands that the claimant put their evidence where their mouth is but invites you to investigate.   That is why the claimant should not get away with any distortion or lies that he presents as evidence. 

 

In matters of religion, donít make the mistake of saying its always the believer who has the burden of proof. If you say the believer is definitely wrong or probably wrong then you have it too. You cannot say that to believe say in God demands a burden of proof and then say the critic who HAS A BELIEF TOO that a religious person is wrong cannot have the burden of proof.  Both sides can be duty bound to provide proof. The believer in x and the sceptic of x both have a burden of proof.

Some argue that the burden of proof between a believer or sceptic falls on the sceptic for the sceptic is using doubt as a methodology when it is more reasonable to use belief when other people mostly believe. This amounts to saying that the burden of proof rests on the minority view.  That view must be regarded as nonsense.  It is not a numbers game - it is about how people use evidence not what they think.

So whatever about sceptics, believers in a God of some sort do bear the burden.  They give you evidence for God.  Fine.  But it is their responsibility to consider and provide the case against their claim and deal with it.

It is not just about evidence but about people's wellbeing. When you don't know the truth, you are put at risk of harm.
  
Should a claim need evidence?
 
So some say, "If you make a claim, you don't always need to try and give proof or evidence along with it. You do however if the claim seems ludicrous or speculative, is heretical, huge or will do significant harm if it is wrong. If you challenge the accepted or default position you need to tell people why it is wrong or probably wrong."
 
All or most people believing something does not make it true. The argument that a claim needs backing only if it is original or unusual or against everybody else is nonsense because truth is independent of what people think.
 
The correct view is that a claim needs backing no matter how many or how few oppose it.  And for the sake of learning, even if it does not need it, look for it anyway.  If it is the truth it needs to be shown to be the truth. If you want people to accept the claim or consider it, that is an another reason for providing evidence.

Even if you did not have to try and give evidence for every claim, in the ideal universe, people will support all their claims important or not.
 
When you make a claim, it is your responsibility to back it up. It is your responsibility to consider the case against it and present it and deal with it.
 
When you have to provide evidence for what you claim, that is called the burden of proof. The burden of proof is on you. We are not saying you need absolute proof - just enough evidence. You must do your best to show as far as you can that the claim is true or probably true. It could still be wrong but that is unlikely.

Bigger claims need bigger checking ie evidence
 
The amount of support from logic and reason and evidence you need depends on the claim. The more outrageous the claim the stronger the evidence you need.
 
The evidence for a claim that a dog eats carrots does not need to be as good as the evidence for the claim that the dog can talk.
 
If you make an unusual or very implausible claim, you must back it up with proof or at least good evidence to show that your claim is probably true. Good evidence for the truth of a huge or weird claim is by itself not enough. You need enough of it.
 
Good evidence means that you take account honestly of evidence against the claim and explain that evidence. You cannot dismiss or ignore it or make excuses for denying it. If you do any of these, you are deliberately trying to get people to believe for the wrong reasons or to believe rubbish.

To be careless with evidence for big claims is evil
 
If you can't provide good proof/evidence you are cheating yourself and your listeners. You are being a baddie. You are risking people believing you when they shouldn't and though we all err, error needs to be challenged for when is it unchallenged you don't know what harm it will do.
 
For example, all believers in God claim that God has the right to kill us and take life. That is human life we are talking about. It is very serious. We need very strong evidence for God before we can say such a thing. This is not only out of respect for life but respect for God in case he does exist and is innocent of killing. Believers chip in about how pro-life they are. But that does not matter. The murderer is pro-life too just not pro-life in everything. You do not want to worship a God of death. You do not want to worship a God who accuses girls who take contraceptive pills of murdering babies though reason says a ball of cells is not a child.
 
The Burden and merely admitting you are unconvinced about God and religion
 
Many unbelievers don't actually deny the truth of religion and God. They simply don't affirm that they are untrue or improbable. All they do is reveal that they are unconvinced. They are merely saying they see no reason for agreeing with the believers.
 
These do not have the burden of proof. These unbelievers in religion and God say that believers have the job of showing them why they should believe too. They are right. There are too many religions and versions of God and you cannot expect them to investigate them all!
  
But all atheists claim that conclusively disproving God is unnecessary!
 
Atheism, according to many atheists, cannot be proven true or false for it does not claim anything. It does not claim that there is no God. But surely it claims however that trying to disprove God is unnecessary?
 
Saying, "I do not believe God is real" might seem to be the same as saying, "I believe God is fictitious". But it is not necessarily. The first is only saying that you don't believe but that does not amount to a denial that God exists. It is not claiming that God doesn't exist but only that you haven't seen enough evidence. You are implicitly saying there could be evidence that he exists. You are implicitly saying the evidence does not favour God as far as you can see and that amounts to a sort of belief that he does not exist.  Saying, "I believe God is fictitious" is an outright denial.
 
Though the two statements are not the same, you have to say, "I do not believe God is real" before you can go on to reason that God is fiction.

 

For that reason, if you are more about the absence of belief in God than outright belief that there is no God then you avoid the burden of proof.  The burden lies with the believer.
 
When believers deny the burden is on them
 
Conniving believers try to get out of having to provide evidence for their assertion that God exists.
 
They argue that instead of believers having the duty to show that what they believe is probably correct, it is up to these unbelievers to show that denial of religion and God is probably correct. But believers who argue that way are being dishonest and probably suspect there is no God so they try to avoid having to provide evidence for God for there is none. The rule is, if you assert that something is true or isn't true, the burden of proof has to apply. If believers assert God exists they must show he probably does. If atheists say God probably does not exist then it is up to them to show it. Nobody has the right to say that it is only the other side that has the burden of proof for asserting something when they assert something themselves. Fair is fair.

Argument from Ignorance
 
In philosophy, you engage in rational deduction. You think things through in tune with the rules of logic. You avoid contradicting yourself or sneaking in prejudices. That is all logic is.  None of that logic will help you prove that the tooth fairy cannot exist. You cannot tell for sure what exists and what does not by mere deduction. Atheists are said to think they have proved by mere reasoning or mere thinking that God cannot or does not exist. They are said to be arrogant because you would need infinite knowledge in order to be able to be sure that God could not and does not exist.
 
That is not true. You do not need infinite knowledge or to know everything in order to refute the existence of God.
 
Thinking and deductive reasoning do disprove certain things. You know for example that an infinite God made of cheese does not exist. You know that a God with no intelligence does not exist. That would not be a God.
 
God is a bigger concept than the tooth fairy. The bigger the entity or the more powerful the entity or the more important the entity the better you can show that its existence is unlikely.
 
God is infinite - there is no power that is not his and he is his own power. That would mean God cannot create things from nothing. God makes all things from himself. But we know that creation is not God. Thus we have proved that God cannot exist.  
 
Denying that the burden of proof is on the believer
 
Some thinkers say that when the believer says there is no evidence for God and still believes, that the burden of proof is on her or him.
 
A burden to prove what?
 
That there is no evidence? Yes for he claims there is none and the whole point about having evidence or non-evidence is that you have to look at it.
 
That he believes without evidence? God is that which alone ultimately matters so if you believe without evidence you have to explain how God could matter in the absence of evidence. Important things need verification and you are claiming your faith is important.
 
Our average believer is in no position to say there is no evidence! What if some sign from God took place somewhere and the believer has never heard of it? This great faith is really arrogance. It shows a dislike for evidence. What is happening is that the believer fears there is no evidence and then turns against evidence in the name of faith.
 
Some say that God is to be found in mundane things. He is not like something that is so out of the ordinary that he needs special proof. He is not out of context in the universe. He is the ordinary. The plant with the pretty flower. The stone in your rockery. The water you sip at the well. God is more like them.

 

If God is that ordinary then there is no burden of proof on the believer. But is he that ordinary? God is not your teapot but an infinite mystery. The answer is no. The argument is deceptive.


Most of our fundamental beliefs about the world are not based on rational and conscious choices.  We should be questioning the evidence and reasons we accept important things more often.

 

FINALLY

 

The burden of proof rests on believers and those who believe in non-belief.  Any belief or knowledge claim demands evidence.  You can avoid the burden of proof by being the kind of atheist who denies God indirectly.