On attempted reversal of the burden of proof

Recently my brother stated that “every time you and Megan get together, you relapse”. To believe this, he must ignore the last time in 2013, which happened to be the time I stopped using drugs on the day she arrived with Aishah who was then a baby, and he must ignore that she stayed for two years, the first two years of my time clean, which incidentally is the one and only time that I cleaned up and stayed clean. (“One and only” is OK. This is something I will never need do again because sobriety is for life for me.)

While it is true that there is a higher probability for addicts to relapse if they used to use together, in our case we firstly are not together, and secondly you can’t ignore those last two years, when I initially cleaned up with her there. So clearly “every time we get together” is not true. She may not be staying for much longer anyway, thanks to him and other things. I want to write about that, but I’m holding back for now. (Barely.)

He also implied that someone might make false accusations against me. Ironic because someone did in those first two years. It could only have been either him or his ex wife, both of whom deny doing so.

I blame religious thinking for their kind of logic. The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. I could go ahead and claim my neighbour is a paedophile, just because I don’t like him. But I expect (and hope) nobody would believe me. When you accuse someone, it is not up to them to prove they are innocent, it is up to you to prove they are guilty. Likewise, if you accuse me of using drugs, it isn’t up to me to clear my name. It’s up to you to prove your claim. In any case, if that happened, the first thing I’d do is go to a rehab, one whose tests are recognized by court, and get myself tested. I’d do so at my expense. But what I’d do is not the point and I really wouldn’t have to.

It seems that religious thinkers get so used to reversing the burden of proof every time they discuss their religion with non-believers, they forget that outside of that subject (where the majority of people have religious beliefs and thus get it wrong), this is simply not how it works.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve perused Facebook atheist vs theist debate groups, reading posts where someone with a pea-sized brain demands that we prove their god doesn’t exist, or asks, “How do you know God doesn’t exist?”. Again… Not how it works.

I’m not going to explain why that isn’t how it works, because frankly if you don’t get it, you still won’t even if I write a ten thousand word argumentative essay that explains every facet of why.

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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.

Asking me to prove there is no god is like asking the child to prove that the emperor isn’t wearing clothes

The Emperor’s New clothes is a story I loved and hated as a child. I loved that the child could see through the bullshit and prove everybody else wrong, but I hated it because I could not understand how everybody could believe something that was so obviously false.

But I understand now. Sure, the story is about pretence rather than faith, but that doesn’t matter. The fact is, being an atheist nowadays is like being that child, crying out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. The difference is, nobody joins in the chant. Nobody starts singing, “The King is in the all together, But all together the all together”… Nobody.

That’s what it’s like… That’s the reality of being an atheist, when some idiot asks me to prove that there isn’t a god. That’s what it’s like when you dismiss my criticism of your Bible… That verse over there – is allegory. The pseudo-scientific explanations you give for the curses of the old testament… You don’t realize that by choosing to provide “explanations” for impossible events, which reveals that you disbelieve in the separate impossible events, yet continue to believe in your god, you don’t prove my criticism wrong. No, you dismiss the Bible itself. You dismiss the very claim, but continue to believe anyway, despite having no evidence for that belief. You’re like someone in the parade, watching the naked emperor go by, giving me explanations for why his dick is hanging free… Maybe the clothes are allegory in that instance? In every instance, you have an explanation, and you rationalize away why you can see every bit of his skin from every angle, yet the rationalization somehow does not conclude the obvious solution… that there are no clothes. There is almost certainly no god.

The other day someone asked what we, as atheists, would accept as evidence of god.

That’s a very good question, but one that is of course, impossible to answer. Ask any believer what god is. Go ahead, try it… There is no single definition of god, not even among believers who belong to the same denomination of the same church. Yet I am asked not only to prove that this thing, this thing which clearly is not real, does not exist! Further, I am asked by someone who doesn’t even have a fucking clue what their own god is, what I would accept as evidence. What the fuck? I would accept God Himself, revealing Himself in some way that was clear and unambiguous. I can’t define how that would happen, but I can say that no words, nothing any person says or does, would ever convince me. The only thing that would convince me is God Himself. And I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.