Burden of Proof

downloadWhen being a good thinker and sceptic it’s important to know who has the burden of proof in arguments. Burden of proof is simply who has to provide the evidence for their position. This can be seen in the American justice system. The prosecution gets the burden to proof to show that the person on trial is guilty. If the lawyer was to demand the defendants to prove that he didn’t do it, he/she would be shifting the burden of proof.

In other words, the burden of proof rests on the person making the claim. If someone claims that God exists, the burden of proof is solely on them. But if the other person says the God doesn’t exist, they have the burden of proof as well. But if the person disbelieves or doesn’t know that God exists, they don’t hold any burden of proof. Saying I believe X is false is different from saying is I disbelieve that X is true. In other words, not guilty is different from innocent. The same happens in football when they are reviewing the play. The play can be confirmed, the play can stand as it is, or the ruling can be overturned. To put it simply, if there’s not enough evidence on the field to overturn it then the ruling on the field stands or not guilty. But if there is enough evidence, then the play is overturned.

If someone says, “I believe in Aliens. Prove me wrong. You haven’t experienced aliens, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” The problem is that I shouldn’t have to prove them wrong. I can just take the agnostic position on the claim. They are asserting that aliens exist, so they must provide evidence for their claim because it’s a claim that goes against all of our experiences. The latter claim regarding existence is true. However, this seems to be misrepresenting the skeptic. The skeptic will say that they have no reason to believe in aliens because they are suspending judgment, not that aliens don’t exist. Sure it might be possible that aliens exists, but that’s not a reason to believe in them. It might be possible that I will one day be a billionaire, but that’s not a reason or evidence to believe such a proposition.




3 thoughts on “Burden of Proof

  1. I agree. Someone can disbelieve or lack a belief in God and still be an atheist. Often people think to be an atheist you have to make the claim that God doesn’t exist, which would require a burden of proof even thought it seems to be a negative claim, but not in the same sense as the other type of atheist I’ll mention.

    Some would argue that absence of evidence for God’s existence can count against God’s existence because if God existed we would expect more evidence than we currently have, which if true is a good argument

    Some atheists are strong atheists, which is what I was talking about above, but in my experience I don’t run into many atheists like this. Rather they say they don’t believe that God exists. In other words, they don’t see any reason to accept that claim that God exists. Theism to these people hasn’t met it’s burden of proof. It not necessarily that it’s false, which is a metaphysical claim. Rather there’s no good reason to believe theism, which is an epistemological stance.

    Furthermore, I think there’s confusion in that most people, including philosophers, think that agnosticism is an in-between state between atheism and theism. However, this isn’t the case. Agnosticism and Gnosticism address knowledge. Atheism and Theism address the question of belief. Therefore, one could be a gnostic-atheist. This means that they disbelieve and know that God doesn’t exist. One could be an agnostic-theist and not know that God exists, but still believe in God. This position is very dangerous because to believe things without evidence is a huge moral problem.

    Also, one could be an gnostic-atheist regarding the Christian God, but be an agnostic-atheist regarding Thor and Zeus.

  2. Pingback: STRUCTURING AN ARGUMENT (CHEAT SHEET) | Ideas Out There

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