Burden of Proof - Does it ever lie with Atheists?

Retro Rob

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Obviously, this is a continuation from the Bible Movies thread.

I obviously know that if we're saying that God exists, we have to prove it.. this I understand totally.

However, is there every any burden on those who claim the Bible is a work of fiction or God doesn't exist? As far as I know, they unfaily keep the burden on the believer, but they tend to make claims. When asked for evidence (speaking about those I've encountered on this fourm), I hardly see any outside of clams.

I ask because I can't being to recount how many Youtube vids I've watched of Dawkins and other Militant Atheists scream and shout to the top of their voices about we're all delusioned and the Bible is nothing more than a work of fiction. I have also looked to seek out the evidence they have to back this claim. Honestly, for a goup of people who base their whole careers off of whether or not they have something "observable and testable", they surely base all these claims with hardly anything observable and testable.

I don't think the burden is on agnostics because they cleverly, and rightly, hold the default position until they've seen sufficient evidence. However, you have strong Atheists who never really provide any proof for their claims against the Bible, yet it seems ok that they can actually make claims and not prove them.

Any thoughts? I am just curious and if I am wrong, I can take rational correction.
 

Mo0o

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If you read Dawkins' God Delusion, he actually addresses this fairly early on. He admits that most reasonable people are agnostics to varying degrees because it is impossible to prove God does not exist same way we can't prove there is no celestial teapot or the flying spaghetti monster. One can simply argue God is unobservable or untestable or any number of stipulations. However, he also states if there is no adequate proof to support their existence, and we can work to explain the world assuming their nonexistence, whether they exist or not is of no consequence. So really, Dawkins would likely not say "I am 100% sure there is no God." but what he would say is: "I have not seen adequate proof that the Christian God exists in the same way I do not see evidence for Zeus, Gaia, or the celestial teapot."
 

DrPizza

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I don't think the Bible is 100% fiction. However, I feel that a tremendous amount of the Bible is allegorical - stories to try to teach us lessons. (Or is that fables? Parables? I get them all mixed up.) And, in many cases, the Bible is an attempt to answer those questions that have been asked for as long as people have been language. Where did we come from? Where did the Earth come from?

For many of THOSE stories, there is an incredibly overwhelming amount of evidence that demonstrates those stories are not true. They may be based to a degree in some historical event. E.g., perhaps the flood story was related to a great flood; but certainly not a world-wide flood. We have a tremendous amount of geological evidence, dating back millions of years; no world-wide flood.

Speaking of which, some (most? all?) literal believers in the Bible would say that the Earth is approximately 6000 years old. There's at least 1000 times more evidence than necessary to proclaim that "fact" as pure bull dookey.

100% work of fiction? No. Not at all. Lots of fables & other stories that aren't true? Most definitely.
 
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Charles Kozierok

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The short answer is "no".

The burden of proof is on someone who claims something exists, not on someone else to prove it does not. There rational basis for this is that proving that something doesn't exist is generally impossible, and so putting the burden of proof on the person who says something doesn't exist makes it too easy for people to put forth claims without evidence.

Note that this applies to those who do not believe in gods because of insufficient evidence (weak atheists), not those who believe definitively that gods do not exist (strong atheists). The latter position is one that also cannot be proven.

If the above doesn't make sense, perhaps this will: If I say the real gods are Zeus and Hera, is it up to you to prove that Zeus and Hera don't exist?
 

DrPizza

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The short answer is "no".

The burden of proof is on someone who claims something exists, not on someone else to prove it does not. There rational basis for this is that proving that something doesn't exist is generally impossible, and so putting the burden of proof on the person who says something doesn't exist makes it too easy for people to put forth claims without evidence.

Note that this applies to those who do not believe in gods because of insufficient evidence (weak atheists), not those who believe definitively that gods do not exist (strong atheists). The latter position is one that also cannot be proven.

If the above doesn't make sense, perhaps this will: If I say the real gods are Zeus and Hera, is it up to you to prove that Zeus and Hera don't exist?

The OP wasn't talking about the existence of God. He was talking about the fiction vs non-fiction basis of the Bible.
 

Charles Kozierok

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The OP wasn't talking about the existence of God. He was talking about the fiction vs non-fiction basis of the Bible.

I think the argument applies equally to the existence of God and the historicity of the bible, the two being intrinsically linked.
 

Mo0o

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The OP wasn't talking about the existence of God. He was talking about the fiction vs non-fiction basis of the Bible.

I think OP asked about both

"However, is there every any burden on those who claim the Bible is a work of fiction or God doesn't exist?"
 

Retro Rob

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Apr 22, 2012
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The short answer is "no".

The burden of proof is on someone who claims something exists, not on someone else to prove it does not. There rational basis for this is that proving that something doesn't exist is generally impossible, and so putting the burden of proof on the person who says something doesn't exist makes it too easy for people to put forth claims without evidence.

Of course, but I would not ask for anyone to disprove my belief... just to prove their claim (the Bible's a work of fiction). In my experience, all they have is speculation at best -- nothing solid. Yet the pressure never seems to shift to them.

Note that this applies to those who do not believe in gods because of insufficient evidence (weak atheists), not those who believe definitively that gods do not exist (strong atheists). The latter position is one that also cannot be proven.

If the above doesn't make sense, perhaps this will: If I say the real gods are Zeus and Hera, is it up to you to prove that Zeus and Hera don't exist?

It's my job to prove Zeus and Hera doesn't exist if I make the factual claim that the don't. Of course, some things are common sense, others need backing for a valid investigation (i,e. if someone claims those gods are real, I won't waste my time if the claim isn't backed by anyone else).

There are scholars who both support and deny the Bible's validity. The Bible has enough academic backing for it to warrant a burden of proof to give a negative claim, substance.
 

Retro Rob

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Apr 22, 2012
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I think OP asked about both

"However, is there every any burden on those who claim the Bible is a work of fiction or God doesn't exist?"

I was focusing on the Bible more since this is a carry-over from the other thread... not so much God, but they are linked -- it's hard to talk about one without the other.
 

Charles Kozierok

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It's my job to prove Zeus and Hera doesn't exist if I make the factual claim that the don't.

Really?

So do you think the exist or not? I'm assuming the latter. How can you prove they don't exist?

Of course, some things are common sense, others need backing for a valid investigation (i,e. if someone claims those gods are real, I won't waste my time if the claim isn't backed by anyone else).

There are scholars who both support and deny the Bible's validity. The Bible has enough academic backing for it to warrant a burden of proof to give a negative claim, substance.

Truth is not a function of how many people believe in something. At one point most humans believed in any number of things that they believed at the time to be "common sense" and that we now know to be completely false.
 

Mo0o

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Of course, but I would not ask for anyone to disprove my belief... just to prove their claim (the Bible's a work of fiction). In my experience, all they have is speculation at best -- nothing solid. Yet the pressure never seems to shift to them.



It's my job to prove Zeus and Hera doesn't exist if I make the factual claim that the don't. Of course, some things are common sense, others need backing for a valid investigation (i,e. if someone claims those gods are real, I won't waste my time if the claim isn't backed by anyone else).

There are scholars who both support and deny the Bible's validity. The Bible has enough academic backing for it to warrant a burden of proof to give a negative claim, substance.

How are you defining truth as it relates to the Bible? That everything it says should be taken literally?
 

Retro Rob

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Apr 22, 2012
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Really?

So do you think the exist or not? I'm assuming the latter. How can you prove they don't exist?

I won't bother to try, if I don't believe the claim has enough support. Secondly, I won't even deny the existence of something, I simply won't believe it.



Truth is not a function of how many people believe in something. At one point most humans believed in any number of things that they believed at the time to be "common sense" and that we now know to be completely false.

Support adds validity, though. If you were on trial for murder... 50 people said you're innocent, 3 people said you're guilty, what claim is more likely to be investigated?
 
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Mo0o

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Support adds validity, though. If you were on trial for murder... 50 people said you're innocent, 3 people said you're guilty, what claim is more likely to be investigated?

Wouldnt you investigate the question of "guilt or not guilty" since the claims are mutually exclusive, so proving one disproves the other. The fact that any people say youre guilty would lead to an investigation, but in our justice system the burden of proof then rests on the prosecutor to prove the guilt (to varying degrees depending on the charge).
 

spittledip

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It seems to me that atheism is like darkness and theism is like light. If the light did not exist the darkness would not either. If the idea of God was completely washed from people's minds, atheists would no longer exist. Atheism is merely a reaction to theism, and nothing more. There are no "positive" beliefs in atheism- it is about anti-belief. Now atheists themselves hold "positive" beliefs, but these beliefs are totally separate from their anti-belief of atheism. That one anti-belief cannot hold a burden of proof.

However, everything else that is left hanging is fair game- morality, existential issues, etc.
 

Dendra

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I obviously know that if we're saying that God exists, we have to prove it.. this I understand totally.

If you can prove a God exists, it's no longer 'faith'. Faith is believing something in the absence of proof.
 

randomrogue

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Jan 15, 2011
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Is there any burden of proof on Atheism as far as god NOT existing? No of course not. If someone is not sure of this all you have to do is substitute the word god for leprechauns, unicorns, and krackens. This is pretty obvious.

As far as the bible though it's a long book. So is it fact or fiction?

Have you read the book Shantaram? Great book. The author claims he wrote it while in prison over many years but the guards found it and ripped it up. So he had to rewrite the whole book. It was billed as a true story. Turns out however that while there are many truths in the book it was written in such a way to make it interesting and filled with drama. He added some bad guys, changed the timeline, etc.

"With respect, Shantaram is not an autobiography, it’s a novel. If the book reads like an autobiography, I take that as a very high compliment, because I structured the created narrative to read like fiction but feel like fact. I wanted the novel to have the page-turning drive of a work of fiction but to be informed by such a powerful stream of real experience that it had the authentic feel of fact.

As with the novel Shantaram, the experiences in The Mountain Shadow are derived from my own real experiences, and the characters, dialogue, and narrative structure are all created
This is how the bible is. It's got some real places. It might have real people. It's got a story worth reading. The difference is they created a religion out of it. It's just a book though. A novel. Is the burden of proof on an Atheist to prove that the whole thing didn't happen? They don't need to just like I don't need to prove that Vampires don't exist for Bram Stoker's book to just be a novel.
 

Retro Rob

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This is how the bible is. It's got some real places. It might have real people. It's got a story worth reading. The difference is they created a religion out of it. It's just a book though. A novel. Is the burden of proof on an Atheist to prove that the whole thing didn't happen? They don't need to just like I don't need to prove that Vampires don't exist for Bram Stoker's book to just be a novel.

So, Atheists have no burden of proof, none? They can make all sorts of claims, negatively, and walk away?

If it has real places, perhaps real people, then they need to back their claims. If it had NO real places, NO real people, then that's different.

Sorry, you can't get off that easy..
 

randomrogue

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So, Atheists have no burden of proof, none? They can make all sorts of claims, negatively, and walk away?

If it has real places, perhaps real people, then they need to back their claims. If it had NO real places, NO real people, then that's different.

Sorry, you can't get off that easy..

I was trying to be nice. What evidence is there that the main characters in the bible existed? From Jesus to the Apostles what evidence is there? Without using the Bible can you prove that a single one existed?
 

jackstar7

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So, Atheists have no burden of proof, none? They can make all sorts of claims, negatively, and walk away?

If it has real places, perhaps real people, then they need to back their claims. If it had NO real places, NO real people, then that's different.

Sorry, you can't get off that easy..

I believe he's saying that disproving just about any bit of it unravels the beliefs of any who claim it is all the literal truth (that it is fact cover-to-cover).

The task of disproving a particular bit is something that I believe has been accomplished.
 

Agent11

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There is some historically intriguing things in the bible, especially fascinating in my opinion are the accounts of the various ancient kingdoms of Mesopotamia.
 
Jan 25, 2011
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So, Atheists have no burden of proof, none? They can make all sorts of claims, negatively, and walk away?

If it has real places, perhaps real people, then they need to back their claims. If it had NO real places, NO real people, then that's different.

Sorry, you can't get off that easy..

The thing is atheists aren't the ones who made the claims. An atheist may tell you that man created gods in their own image. It is theists who claim something unprovable exists. In the absence of stories of creation would there be people taking an alternate position?

It's the height intellectual dishonesty to make an unsubstantiated claim of fact and then tell me the onus is on me to disprove your claim with the implication that it's otherwise true if I can not. The burden of proof lies squarely with the one making the claim to begin with.
 

Retro Rob

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This thread is very telling.

I personally don't think Atheists or Bible opponents *can't* successfully challenge the Bible when it comes to claiming something didn't happen.

I don't mean this to insult, really, but it seems as if they can get away with mouthing off about how something is false, then when challenged on that, they want you to prove that the account was real to begin with.

You can't shift the burden like that - life doesn't work that way. You make a claim against the Bible, be prepared to defend that claim. Other than that, please, keep quite about it unless you have evidence to support it.

"The bible is a work of fiction... because I said so". :rolleyes:
 

randomrogue

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This thread is very telling.

I personally don't think Atheists or Bible opponents *can't* successfully challenge the Bible when it comes to claiming something didn't happen.

I don't mean this to insult, really, but it seems as if they can get away with mouthing off about how something is false, then when challenged on that, they want you to prove that the account was real to begin with.

You can't shift the burden like that - life doesn't work that way. You make a claim against the Bible, be prepared to defend that claim. Other than that, please, keep quite about it unless you have evidence to support it.

"The bible is a work of fiction... because I said so". :rolleyes:

You have it backwards. The Bible makes claims. The burden is on the Bible.

You can't just write a book (yes it's a collection of writings) and claim them to be true because they are written. If anything is false, then it remains a work of fiction or at best is fair to call into question the authenticity of the whole story.

Did Jonah get swallowed by a whale and live in its belly? If you believe he did then do we also hold Aesop's Fables to be true (they're about 700 years older than the bible)?

The bible claims all kinds of things with no proof. Immaculate conception, resurrection, angels flying, etc. Is it all true just because it was written?

The Bible makes claims and the burden of proof is on it to verify its authenticity.

About 8 years ago Oprah was championing this book as the greatest thing since sliced bread. A million little pieces. It was a true story and was propelled to the top of the charts by Oprah. The author assuredly made a lot of money from it.

People questioned the truth of the book though and soon discovered that it had been embellished and wasn't entirely true. The man was disgraced, the book was disgraced, and people stopped believing in this book as some kind of get off drugs miracle.

People do not hold the Bible to the same standards. They write off any criticism since it's "the word of god". Well that's not the way it works. Either call it truth and prove it or call it a storybook. Whether you have faith in a story book or not is up to you but don't tell us it's real unless you can back it up.
 

Retro Rob

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Ah yes, it's very easy to try and isolate unscientific claims.

This is actually intellectual laziness because these claims can't be reproduced, and frankly, they don't need to be, and for folks to call into question the ENTIRE historical accuracy based on things that fall outside of human understanding is a copout.

I'm willing to bet that 500 years ago, if you told someone that you could verbally talk to another person 1000 miles away without raising your voice, you'd be laughed out of town, and probably arrested... well, you get my point. Now we can do that, via the telephone. But 500 years ago, this would have been impossible!!!

Please, this is weak argument. "Miracles can't happen, people can't be raised from the dead.. so the whole book is false, and I've essentially been relieved of my burden.".