Monday, 10 May 2010
Can You Prove It?
Why believe in that which can't be shown?
The theist may assert that it makes more sense to believe in god than not because it can be shown that god exist while it can't be shown that god doesn't exist. IOW, the atheist is taking an unprovable position while the theist is taking one that can be confirmed. Therefore, the argument goes, the atheist is taking on a position that can never be confirmed, only disconfirmed, which is a losing bet. Therefore, it doesn't make any sense to be an atheist, since you can only be proven wrong, but never proven right.
This is a variation on the oft-heard argument from theists that, "You can't prove my god doesn't exist, so I'm gonna believe until you can." And, yes, I've heard both versions of this argument.
So, let's think about this idea for a bit. If we went by this "logic," we'd also have to decide that it's better to believe in unicorns, leprechauns, etc. Isn't it an unprovable position to take that unicorns/leprechauns/etc don't exist? Well, of course it is. It's just as unprovable as the idea that god does not exist. So, if the theist is justified in believing in god, then everyone is also justified in believing any other idea/creature/etc for which that non-existence is unprovable.
Of course, this is an untenable position to take for the theist. Claiming that their god belief is warranted while other beliefs are not would simply be a case of special pleading. This is why we should rightly recognize that the burden of proof lies on the one making the positive declaration - a position the theist holds by claiming that god exists. Without meeting this burden of proof, the rational position is to simply not accept the claim that god does exist, regardless of whether it can ultimately be proven or not.