Why don’t some atheists acknowledge Gods existence is reasonable?

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Flamenca's picture
Hi, @Benjboi, and welcome to

Hi, @Benjboi, and welcome to the forum. In orden to explain why atheists refuse to take responsability for the burden of proof, please, let me use a short tale to illustrate my point of view on why Mykcob lost his temper and, luckily, it'll get you another perspective. Most of you may be familiar with the plot. Sorry for the length.

One night, after a couple of beers, a friend of yours confesses you that his great-great-grandfather P. didn't spend time in a woman's wound: P. was carved in wood; one night, he became alive and, eventually, changed his wood for flesh and blood.

He shows you some Youtube videos, in which people claim this to be true, that they're able to feel and listen His saviour in their hearts.

Some people even quote Collodi's (their only true prophet) words-taken out of an ancient book, read and believed by millions- as proof, and non-believers are considered angry idiotic people, who refuse to see the truth millions already share; the book saying Lord P. performed the miracle of stretching his nose out should be consider evidence for His divine origin, and it' is good enough as proof of existence as well.

You reply your friend that none of this supports P. was real, needless to say divine. He argues that the story of P. changed his life for the best and gave him a purpose in life, and you need to believe this story, and follow their creed, unless you want to go to hell (literally).

And then, he tells you the burden of proof is ON YOU.


Benjboi's picture
Thanks Angiebot, I think

Thanks Angiebot, I think perhaps my point got lost and maybe that's my fault. To be fair it was past midnight here (in the UK) when I started commenting and through the mental fog that accumulates at that time I didn't even really consider that context is important when making the argument, I was arguing the point that the very act of trying to debate is in itself to adopt a position and to justify it with evidence, in this sense if you engage in debate with a theist as to the existence of God you are obliged by the very nature of debating to justify your position with evidence.

You all (I'm using the royal you here) took it to mean that you have to prove your position in a global sense as in because you believe in something you're obliged to prove it whether challenged or not. This is of course abject nonsense. If some religious bigot or anyone else for that matter tells you that you have to prove your beliefs 'because they're my beliefs now f*ck off' is a perfectly acceptable position to adopt. You're saying I don't want to engage with you and I'd argue it's a far more logical response if ever asked to prove there's no God, or prove there is a God for that matter because it's a concept entirely devoid of evidence on either side.

I believe in God, or I don't believe in God are both perfectly OK positions to adopt. The mistake most atheists make it seems to me is allowing themselves to be goaded into discussion on the matter in the first place. I've been butting heads with Mykcob earlier on a point of semantics, but I hope he'll forgive me in pointing out from the casual observer point of view he behaves like he wants to engage in discussion but then starts from a point of ridicule and doesn't progress beyond that. This is was odd behaviour to me last night, waking up this morning and seeing his post about being an Atheist in the US, I'm entirely sympathetic to why he's like that, I'm quite sure I'd be exactly the same in his position.

Flamenca's picture
@Benjboi, my Pinnochio tale

@Benjboi, my Pinnochio tale was simply meant to point out that the burden of proof should lay on who claims an untestable omnipresent- omnipotent-omniscient invisible entity who controls each one of us, regardless this belief is shared by millions, such as the Abrahamic God.

I can tell why so-called proofs aren't good enough for me; what made me become skeptical, and eventually, atheist; why I think religions are hosted by evil institutions which take advantage of people's natural confidence on figures of authority's worldview; why I think religion should be out of schools... But don't ask me to prove a negative, because I'm not a goddess.

I believe in God, or I don't believe in God are both perfectly OK positions to adopt. I wouldn't called them both "perfectly ok positions", but "possible" and I think you're being simplistic, since this is not a dichotomy, but an spectrum instead: There are people who are completely sure of God's existence, and in the other extreme, others who are completely sure that a god doesn't exist. But in between lays the vast majority of people.

And I think @Mykcob has already given you a detailed -and reasonable- explanation for the way he usually engages in interaction with believers, so no further comments.

AJ777's picture
If God doesn’t exist there’s

If God doesn’t exist there’s no such thing as real harm, misery, or any other description of evil.

Burn Your Bible's picture
so god created Harm, misery,

so god created Harm, misery, and evil?

mykcob4's picture

Atheists didn't make up a god so there is NO reason to disprove a god. Don't shirk responsibility based on ill-fated logic.
There is a possibility of unicorns and the tooth fairy, and Santa Claus. Your argument is childish and immature. If you want to "engage" in a MEANINGFUL discussion, you'll have to do better than that!

Benjboi's picture
Can I ask you why the

Can I ask you why the hostility? I have not come here seeking to force an opinion if anything I enjoy having my beliefs challenged but in the course of civil debate you construct and rebut, both sides have a burden of proof on them it's just the nature of what it means to debate. I understand that if you think I'm some sort of Catholic, Christian, Islamist nutjob you might think I'm demanding you prove your position and this must seem like an insult, after all, you guys are in the entirely logical belief camp that says there is no God. I have no evidence to support my belief in something more (I'm loathed to use the word God because it seems so emotive around here) and I don't seek to convince you. You'll note that in none of my comments have I nailed my flag to a mast one way or the other, I don't quote scripture because quite frankly I couldn't, even if I wanted to. So why am I deserving of your ire?

I am simply saying that to insist on irrefutable proof from one side of the discussion whilst not holding yourself to the same thresholds is not a debate and secondly the existence or none existence of a God is impossible to prove which kind of makes the discussion of it no more than an expression of personal opinion which therefore bears no more right to respect than someone stating their shoe size.

Is also argue that your comments about santa and unicorns is a far more childish argument than anything I've said this far.

I don't think anything I've said here is particularly controversial or deserving of hostility.

Flamenca's picture
@Benjboi. In a hypotethical

@Benjboi. In a hypothetical scenario (unfair to atheists as some of us, @Mykcob included, have tried to explain to you before); anyways, let's say the burden of proof was on us all... Where is He to be found?

- He's capable to decode our brain impulses when we send Him private messages, marked them as urgent if they're in form or prayers and answer to us on real time, while he's having other billions of conversations at the same time. Yet not a single piece of evidence in brainscanners, machines capable of distinguishing complex emotions (love, hate, sex desire, long-term love, etc.)

- He interferes in events on daily life -such saving one white child in South Dakota in a car accident, while ignoring the dozens of black children dying of hunger in Africa at the same exact minute; and to create all living beings, yet we can even grasp a single track of evidence of this supposedly superpowerful, Swiss-army-knife (several uses at the same time) energy in an era we've created a neutrine detector...

So which reliable tests should we run to confirm this entity is real?

AJ777's picture
Wouldn’t a good standard be

Wouldn’t a good standard be that which is used in a court of law? Beyond a reasonable doubt. A good philosophy 101 class will teach you why you can’t prove anything is true, including whether or not you exist. We can examine evidence in order to come to a verdict.

Keith Raye's picture
If your philosophy teacher

If your philosophy teacher has taught you that "you can't prove anything is true" he has no business being a teacher because that statement is an outright lie. Conversely, if that statement were true it would mean that you can't prove the existence of your god. What this reasoning of yours shows is that you lack the ability to separate truth from untruth, in which case there is no point whatsoever in debating anything with you.

AJ777's picture


Benjboi's picture
Totally agree about the

Totally agree about the innate potential for evil, the second you place yourself at a position that is at odds with another group and you close yourself off from all other possibilities you create that potential. The same could be said for sports fans. Religion is just better at polarising the weak but then they should be, they've had enough practice at it.

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the subject of proof. I believe that if you engage in discussion that you automatically have a burden of proof if you want to have a conclusion to the debate. I believe in nothing has no more right to be respected than I believe in something without offering some defence of your position. As I said before if you genuinely have no desire to influence or debate it then I suppose it's fine.

Algebe, believe me I'm far more on your side than you might think. Whilst not a committed atheist I am totally anti religion, some of the most horrifying things both now and in the past have been done in the name of religion and they deserve every ounce of scrutiny and ridicule they get. I can also understand how frustrating it must be to have evangelical zealots hijacking your forums in an effort to convince you that you're going to burn in hell fire. Part of the reason I'm here is that I love a good debate,
sadly the art of respectful construction and rebuttal has been lost, especially with the keyboard warriors in most corners of the Internet, so again I share your pain. Whilst I haven't experienced the ire of the religious community yet, I have had my fair share of idiots painting opinion as fact and then resorting to ugly language and slur when you attempt to engage in civil discourse.

Sorry just realised you'd been autocorrected to algebra on my last post, the irony of my phone autocorrecting you to perhaps the most logical branch of the sciences is not lost on me ha ha.

algebe's picture
Benboi: "Sorry just realised

Benboi: "Sorry just realised you'd been autocorrected to algebra"

I was about to think up an insulting mispelling of your online name, but then I thought "Algebra" is probably a compliment, so no harm done.

For me, and I think for many others here, atheism is not a belief. It's a loss of belief or lack of belief in the supernatural. Many argue also that atheism is the default state of humans, and that religion is a learned behavior. The fact that a person's religion is generally determined by where they're born adds weight to that view. Does someone walking around with a religious monkey on his back have the right to demand an explanation from me as to why I have no monkey on my back?

And of course, the Christian god is only one of an infinite number of things that may or may not exist. An atheist is someone who hasn't seen any convincing eividence to support the god hypothesis ahead of all the other possibilities, such as Santa Claus, Odin, and Amaterasu. So if you ask me to prove atheism, I'm faced with the impossible task of disproving an infinite number of possibilities.

Benjboi's picture
The algebra comment was meant

The algebra comment was meant as a compliment.

Of course religion is a learned state, how could it not be? In the absence of an outside stimuli a child would grow up blissfully unaware of religion. Now that's not to say that the same child won't grow up interpreting what it sees in a mythical context, it probably will in the same way that the Egyptian worshiped ra and out of those ashes the seeds of Judaism formed but to say that a child might grow up Christian without being exposed to Christian influence is patent nonsense.

No one has the right to insist you prove something, if they do you've every right to tell them to f*ck off (apologies for the language) but if you then choose to engage then proof is an expectation.

If you actively engage someone you have a burden of proof (in an unwinnable argument I hasten to add) its just a simple fact of engaging in discourse.

Personally I think you're over exaggerating the issue by saying that you've got to disprove 1000 other positions, actually you haven't. If you want to deconstruct religion you have but if you want to prove your belief is right in the discussion then you simply need to disprove God, based on our current knowledge you might as well say you want to plait water.

I suppose what I'm saying in the most garbled of terms is it's an impossible argument, the existence of God cannot be sufficiently disproven nor can it be proven. So it's the single most pointless argument that could be engaged in. Deconstructing religion however, what a delightfully rich bag of atrocious ideas to attack and that is an argument where there's so much evidence you're almost spoilt for choice.

Keith Raye's picture


Are you quadratic or simultaneous?

algebe's picture
@Keith "Are you quadratic or

@Keith "Are you quadratic or simultaneous?"

Definitely radical.

CyberLN's picture
Benjboi, I think I might

Benjboi, I think I might agree with you if I am correct it n my understanding of what you are saying. Let's find out...
Person A says X is true. Person A has made an assertion and therefore has the burden of proof. So, if a theist says there is a god, they should back it up with proof. If an atheist says there is no god they are equally responsible to demonstrate that.
Person A says X is true. Person B says they don't accept that. Person B has NOT made an assertion. They have simply said they do not accept that X is true. This is the important piece - person B has NOT said X is false, they have said only that they to not accept that it is true. Therefore the onus for producing proof is on person A but not on person B since person B has made no assertion.
Do you agree?

AJ777's picture
Due to the law of non

Due to the law of non contradiction, there are only two possibilities. Either god exists or does not exist. An agnostic or position of ignorance on the existence of god does not need to show a burden of proof. Belief and non belief in god do.

CyberLN's picture
AJ777, I absolutely agree

AJ777, I absolutely agree that gods either do or do not exist. And you can call me what ever you like. Your use of a word might be different than mine. I do not believe in god(s) or fairies. Additionally, I have no knowledge if any gods exist just as I have no complete knowledge about the non/existence of fairies.

Consider the US courts...a person is found guilty or not guilty. A finding of not guilty does NOT equal innocent. I do not accept (believe) the accertion that gods exist. That does not mean I believe they don't.

I typically identify as an agnostic atheist. But like I said, you can call me what ever you like. It makes no substantive difference to me.

AJ777's picture
Interesting you used the term

Interesting you used the term complete knowledge. I think that’s correct that none of us has complete knowledge on any subject. So none of us can say that it is a fact that God does not exist. However, if a person can know something about God, then that something he knows could be that God exists. So it seems that in order to say you can’t know if god exists one would have to have enough true knowledge about gods existence to know he exists. This is a self refuting position.

David Killens's picture
This post breaks down when we

This post breaks down when we arrive at the word "know". You are presenting it as hard evidence of an individual having something more than their imagination. Having fantasies or delusions is not "knowing".

Aposteriori unum's picture
Claims have the burden of

Claims have the burden of proof, not beliefs.

Sheldon's picture
Do you generally believe

Do you generally believe things exist when you don't have any knowledge of their existence? You are right that the existence of a deity or deities is either possible or impossible, and that these are logical negations of each other. However if the claim is unfalsifiable we can't know whether it is possible or impossible. So without evidence there's nothing to believe.

Unfalsifiable claims are easy to create and by definition impossible to disprove. It's logically and epistemologically absurd to imply that being unfalsifiable lends validity to a claim.

If someone claimed there was invisible unicorn in front of you that was undetectable in any empirical way do you think the claim should be admitted as 'possible'?

More importantly after you acknowledge you can't know whether it's possible or not, would you believe or disbelieve the claim?

You're attempting to use argumentum ad ignorantiam to reverse or avoid your burden of proof for the claim god exists. It's a logically fallacious assertion. I do nt need to 'know' whether an unevidenced claim is true or not in order to disbelieve it. I'd no more accept such a claim about a deity than an invisible undetectable unicorn.

Sheldon's picture
"Due to the law of non

"Due to the law of non contradiction, there are only two possibilities. Either god exists or does not exist. An agnostic or position of ignorance on the existence of god does not need to show a burden of proof. Belief and non belief in god do."

Not true, the belief that something exists is a claim, not believing something is not the same as claiming it is untrue?

Do believe in garden fairies? If not why not? What if they were invisible and empirically undetectable? If someone claimed they created everything and that they were have a personal relationship with them where they spoke to them what would make you reject that claim? .

Benjboi's picture
Yes absolutely, the former is

Yes absolutely, the former is a debate that latter is not. Either is fine but the mistake I see atheists make is to engage in debate and then refuse to back it up this is not a criticism of their refusal to debate, it is a criticism of them allowing themselves to get drawn into an unwinnable position.

I was pretty frustrated yesterday because on the one hand I can feel the palpable frustration from members of this forum and understand it and on the other I'm standing here shouting 'hey guys don't debate what you cannot prove, it'll just make you look bigoted and aloof'.

It did give me the experience of being on the other side of the fence so to speak and the experience of being treated as an apologist is not all that different from being treated as a heretic by religious zealots. It's a pretty unpleasant place to be.

CyberLN's picture
Agreed, benjboi. I get

Agreed, benjboi. I get terribly frustrated with "do as I say, not as I do" in debate. To throw in another saying...what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I find it inappropriate for either side of a debate to insist on a particular behavior from someone yet not engage in it themselves.

Pitar's picture
I always admit to

I always admit to understanding that the existence of a god is reasonable to a man who wants it to be reasonable. I can't deny that any man who wants to champion such a notion can do so in the manner his imagination and psyche allows.

If I was so persuaded to expunge from my mind all sentient observances recorded in the unbiased historicity of man into antiquity, expunge from my mind the well documented and unapologetic succession of how mankind has unashamedly created god after god throughout his known existence, expunged from my mind the biblical errors one over another throughout its 700,000+ words of plagiarizing or appropriating from known myths and obvious steeping in pagan rituals and conventions, if I could erase such information from my psyche, which is a known ploy in religious memes known as Disassociation (with reality), then I might have a leaning toward embracing a god and one of the known vectors (religious memes) perpetuating its existence. I mean, so many people doing that why should I be different, right?

But, nah. I'll leave that up to reasonable men to rationalize.

AJ777's picture
Pilar, could you elaborate on

Pilar, could you elaborate on the biblical error you referred to? Do you have any evidence that the Christian Bible if that’s what you’re referring to, was fabricated?

Sheldon's picture
"Pilar, could you elaborate

"Pilar, could you elaborate on the biblical error you referred to? Do you have any evidence that the Christian Bible if that’s what you’re referring to, was fabricated?"

Sorry but error and fabrication are not the same. It's also axiomatic that the bible asserts things that are erroneous, and we have amassed scientific evidence to refute some of it's claims that is beyond any reasonable rational doubt. We were not created in our current form, this is quite simply a myth, we evolved as did all life, this is a scientific fact, with overwhelming evidence to support it converging from multiple fields of science.

Nyarlathotep's picture
AJ777 - Protestant Christians

AJ777 - Protestant Christians believe in an unchanging eternal God.


AJ777 - ...Jesus death was the beginning of...

Death is a change.


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