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Burden of Proof Fallacy 
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Post Burden of Proof Fallacy
Fundamentalists atheists commit this fallacy more often than any other.
Be advised next time you encounter the cult of new atheism.

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Burden of Proof is a fallacy in which the burden of proof is placed on the wrong side. Another version occurs when a lack of evidence for side A is taken to be evidence for side B in cases in which the burden of proof actually rests on side B. A common name for this is an Appeal to Ignorance.


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to dismiss something on the basis that it hasn't been proven beyond all doubt is also fallacious reasoning.



https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/burden-of-proof



Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:12 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
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Example: Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can prove him wrong, his claim is therefore a valid one.

I think someone is missing an important point. Bertrand Russell's teapot is an analogy to show that the burden of proof is always on the person making the claim. In this case, those who assert the existence of God should not expect others to believe them based on their belief alone. Just as if Russell were to assert, without proof, that a teapot is in orbit between Earth and Mars, he would not expect anyone to believe him. The burden of proof would be on him to prove the existence of the teapot.

So this is certainly not intended as an argument for the existence of the teapot. It's supposed to show believers what nonbelievers are confronted with when any claim is offered without proof.


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Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:59 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
And here is another quote from Russell on the same point:

“I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.”
― Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects“

And a few more thinkers on the same subject with ideas worth contemplating.

“I don't accept the currently fashionable assertion that any view is automatically as worthy of respect as any equal and opposite view. My view is that the moon is made of rock. If someone says to me 'Well, you haven't been there, have you? You haven't seen it for yourself, so my view that it is made of Norwegian Beaver Cheese is equally valid' - then I can't even be bothered to argue. There is such a thing as the burden of proof, and in the case of god, as in the case of the composition of the moon, this has shifted radically. God used to be the best explanation we'd got, and we've now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining. So I don't think that being convinced that there is no god is as irrational or arrogant a point of view as belief that there is. I don't think the matter calls for even-handedness at all.”
― Douglas Adams

“A theist can't empirically prove that God exists but he believes in God because no one can allegedly disprove God's existence. By his logic, you must believe in anything you can't disprove. That means all things are real until disproved--including the tooth fairy, the Loch Ness Monster, Santa Claus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, etc.”
― G.M. Jackson, How to Prove God Does Not Exist

...what about the stone, Mr Lovegood? The thing you call the Resurrection Stone?"
"What of it?"
"Well, how can that be real?"
"Prove that it is not," said Xenophilius.
Hermione looked outraged.
"But that's—I'm sorry, but that's completely ridiculous! How can I possibly prove it doesn't exist? Do you expect me to get hold of—of all the pebbles in the world, and test them? I mean, you could claim that anything's real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody's proved it doesn't exist!”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows



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Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:35 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
Ant is referring to the strongest of positions on the spectrum. The hard atheist. The atheist that says god certainly doesn't exist. That's a positive claim, and requires evidence. At the same time, he's referring to the loosest definition of a deity. A naturalistic deity that created everything then went into hibernation. There isn't sufficient evidence to show that a naturalistic deity doesn't exist. The burden of proof isn't fulfilled regarding that definition of a god. Which means the only sensible position regarding a naturalistic deity is the agnostic position. I don't believe there is a naturalistic deity, but that's my belief rather than my knowledge.

I've met a few people who hold this position, but they're merely under-informed rather than part of some cult. It's even more rare for someone who understand the nuances of this argument to be both a hard atheist and hold that position against a naturalistic deity. I haven't yet met someone who holds that position. I think Ant lumps everyone into this nonexistent group because he refuses to acknowledge the nuances.

Regarding the god that everyone is actually referring to... there is enough evidence to say he doesn't exist.


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Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:51 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
You can judge by burden of proof only when you have definite attributes to go on, which is what I think you've said. So if God is said to be a being who answers prayers, there is evidence that such a being doesn't really exist. If God supposedly cares for human beings in general, there is evidence against his existence--Zika virus, for instance. A God who doesn't do things for our benefit and doesn't care about us could exist, though.



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Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:06 am
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
Interbane wrote:
Ant is referring to the strongest of positions on the spectrum. The hard atheist. The atheist that says god certainly doesn't exist. That's a positive claim, and requires evidence. At the same time, he's referring to the loosest definition of a deity. A naturalistic deity that created everything then went into hibernation.

Yes, the definition of "atheist" changes with the definition of "God". Most of us are atheists with respect to the Greek gods or Yahweh of the Old Testament. That's why it's so crucial to define God first. I wish I had remembered to say this the other day when my brother asked if I was an atheist. For some reason, it really disturbs him that I think of myself as an atheist, but he's got it in his head that atheist means the militant variety.


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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
geo wrote:
For some reason, it really disturbs him that I think of myself as an atheist, but he's got it in his head that atheist means the militant variety.


Perhaps your brother could benefit from a special present under his tree this year. Louise Antony's book "Philosophers Without Gods" might give him a wider perspective on the subject. The following description describes it very well.

"Atheists are frequently demonized as arrogant intellectuals, antagonistic to religion, devoid of moral sentiments, advocates of an "anything goes" lifestyle. Now, in this revealing volume, nineteen leading philosophers open a window on the inner life of atheism, shattering these common stereotypes as they reveal how they came to turn away from religious belief. These highly engaging personal essays capture the marvelous diversity to be found among atheists, providing a portrait that willsurprise most readers. Many of the authors, for example, express great affection for particular religious traditions, even as they explain why they cannot, in good conscience, embrace them. None of the contributors dismiss religious belief as stupid or primitive, and several even express regret that they cannot, or can no longer, believe. .....they contend that secular life can provide rewards as great and as rich as religious life. A naturalistic understanding of the human condition presents a set of challenges--to pursue our goalswithout illusions, to act morally without hope of reward--challenges that can impart a lasting value to finite and fragile human lives. Collectively, these essays highlight the richness of atheistic belief - not only as a valid alternative to religion, but as a profoundly fulfilling and moral way of life."



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Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:39 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
LevV wrote:
Perhaps your brother could benefit from a special present under his tree this year. Louise Antony's book "Philosophers Without Gods" might give him a wider perspective on the subject.

Wow, Lev, this book looks good. Have you read it?


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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
geo, the book Lev V told us about is available as a PDF. http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5233Y.pdf

I had a brief look and it it seems like one I want to get my hands on. In passing, one thing I appreciate about booktalk is the opportunity it's given me to clarify my thinking, and feelings, about God, god, and spirituality. I still don't have an "elevator speech" on the subject, but don't necessarily want to have one, either.



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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
geo wrote:
Wow, Lev, this book looks good. Have you read it?


I've had the book for about a year and have read about half the essays - some more than once. I was impressed with the range and diversity of perspectives expressed by the authors I've read so far. Most of the authors have a background in Christianity or Judaism but some were raised in a secular family. What they all have in common is a history of engagement with religious issues.

Although many of the essays deal in a general way with philosophical questions on religious issues, I especially enjoyed those of a more personal nature with details on the development of their own positions. I also enjoyed their relating the various ways they deal with their atheism in interactions with family and friends.



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Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:28 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
DWill wrote:
geo, the book Lev V told us about is available as a PDF. http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5233Y.pdf


It looks like this site only has the first two essays and the Introduction - at least that was all I saw when I went to the site.
The available Introduction will give you an excellent idea on the range and scope of the essays.



Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:44 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
LevV wrote:
DWill wrote:
geo, the book Lev V told us about is available as a PDF. http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5233Y.pdf


It looks like this site only has the first two essays and the Introduction - at least that was all I saw when I went to the site.
The available Introduction will give you an excellent idea on the range and scope of the essays.

Right! Thanks for looking further into the link. From the standpoint of the authors and publishers getting some return for their efforts, I'm always okay with paying for the product. Here is the concluding section from the introduction, which I especially liked. Having no "master story" to offer is just how I feel. Some find that unsettling, but I find it exhilarating to be able to go along for the ride.

Humility is a premier religious virtue. I think that all the contributors to this
volume are humble, perhaps more humble than most religious people. Like theists,
we affirm the limitations and fallibility of the human mind; like them, we acknowledge,
with awe, the vastness and complexity of the natural world. Unlike
theists, however, we have no master story to tell about the origins or the ultimate
future of the world. Human science has learned a great deal, we think, but it’s not a
patch on what there is left to know. We have no sacred texts, no authorities
with definitive answers to our questions about the nature of morality or the purpose
of life, no list of commandments that cover every contingency and dilemma. We
can have no confidence, the evidence of history being as it is, that the truth will win
out, or that goodness will triumph in the end. We have no fear of eternal punishment,
but no hope, either, of eternal reward. We have only our ideals and our
goals to motivate us, only our sympathy and our intelligence to make us good, and
only our fellow human beings to help us in time of need. When we speak, we speak
only for ourselves—we cannot claim inspiration or sanction from the Creator and
Lord of the universe.
What we offer here, then, are not manifestos or creeds. We want simply to explain
what we believe, and why we believe. That, in the end, is the best we can do.



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Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:27 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
AMEN to that.



Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:50 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
LevV wrote:
I've had the book for about a year and have read about half the essays - some more than once. I was impressed with the range and diversity of perspectives expressed by the authors I've read so far. Most of the authors have a background in Christianity or Judaism but some were raised in a secular family. What they all have in common is a history of engagement with religious issues.

Hey, I ended up buying a used copy from abebooks.com. Thanks for the recommendation.


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Sat Dec 17, 2016 10:05 pm
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Post Re: Burden of Proof Fallacy
As atheists (or agnostics) I believe many BT members would relate to many of the personal stories in the book "Philosophers Without Gods". Perhaps it could be a future BT book for discussion.



Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:40 am
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