Please stop trying to shift the burden of proof

I’ve written about this before so I’ll keep this one short and as simple as I can.

Yesterday someone replying to a comment I made on a debate group (and I do know how to push their buttons these days!) stated explicitly that the Bible is evidence of his god’s existence.

It doesn’t work like that. The Bible is the source of the claim. When you make a claim, the onus is on you to prove that the claim is true.

I can fly.

There. That shit is written. Not only is it written, but it is written by me, the guy who can fly, so you know it’s true. It is evidence that I can fly. See what I did there?

Maybe some people will find it to their advantage to believe this claim… Then they can teach their children to believe it too before they are old enough to think critically. Fast forward to two thousand years later and… that guy, that Jerome guy born in South Africa on 22nd October 1971, he could fucking fly! You should have seen him, souring through the clouds and swooping down. How do I know? Because it is written in the holy post of flight (and some other shit about “burden of proof” that we don’t understand.)! Not only that, but it is corroborated by other holy writings of flight from around the same century, by his first Disciples of Featherless Flight.

Seriously, having your claim written down doesn’t automatically make your claim true. Even having it written in other places doesn’t make it true. If your god were real, it wouldn’t need to be written, because we’d need only to look for it and see this god.

The most common counterargument I’m presented with is that god “reveals himself in various ways”. This is even used to assert that a particular god existed before the claim of the particular religion was made. Here’s the problem with that stupid argument: If claims of other religions made thousands of years before your one are also “evidence” of your god, you admit that you don’t have to follow your religion. It’s not the one true religion any more, so stop telling people they have to accept Christ or Allah or Tinkerbell or whichever one you think isn’t totally made up. You can’t have it both ways.


About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
This entry was posted in Skepticism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Please stop trying to shift the burden of proof

  1. notabilia says:

    Undeniable ripostes – credit to you for your resolve to keep flying into the sun with these believer maniacs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. bbnewsab says:

    Religious people never have the burden of proof. Their dogmas are axioms. They can’t be questioned,

    You should know this, Jerome. After all these years you have debated religious assholes and wing nuts


    • Gerhard Lemmer says:

      [quote]Religious people never have the burden of proof. Their dogmas are axioms. They can’t be questioned[endquote] Your dogmas are also axioms. I (a Christian) regularly question the consistency and completeness of my axioms. (Which includes questioning whether the God’s revelation through Scripture is consistent with God’s revelation through Creation, and whether both creation and scripture are internally consistent. Why? Because any inconsistency in or between scripture and creation violates the axioms of the Reformed Christian theology, IMO.)

      Now I ask you a counter question? Your religious beliefs (apparently including the non-existence of God and/or the irrationality of all religious people) are axioms. How often do you question their consistency and completeness?


  3. Gerhard Lemmer says:

    I agree that often religious people (including Christians) can be guilty of the shifting the burden of proof informal fallacy.

    However, as @bbnewsab accidentally points out above: Religions are based on axioms. Everybody are religious in the sense that their life-and-world-view (a human’s internal model of the universe, himself and the relationship between himself and his environment) is based on axioms, since otherwise he would be completely irrational (which is as impossible for humans as apparently complete rationality is for us).

    We can and should however, test our axioms against themselves. If the test confirms our axioms’ truth, that cannot prove them irrefutably, but can increase our confidence in them being not “too” false. If the test proves they’re false, we’ll need to generalize or we’re stuck with a severe problem if we want to remain reasonably rational.


  4. The thing I see from apologists most often is an argument appealing to fairness. They suggest that we are getting off easy by expecting them to assume the burden of proof. This confuses reasoning with political decision-making. It also ignores some of the benefits that go with the benefit of the doubt, e.g. the privilege of defining the initial case. When I ask Christians to accept a burden of proof, I also accept that their own approach to the issue will be what we are discussing, not one of my own choosing. This isn’t an unusual approach, but you would never know it from listening to the apologists whine about burdens of proof.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      I hate discussing the burden of proof. It never seems to get anywhere. Too many times I have been asked to prove there isn’t a god, and I’ve gotten tired of explaining that’s not how it works.

      It’s not just that they assume a god exists and refuse to discuss their lack of evidence for this assertion (or take other things to be evidence even though this just begs the question), they often then ask me to define what this god is. How can I? I see no evidence for any claimed god, so how can I define what this god is supposed to be? Surely someone who believes in it can define what it is that they believe in…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s