who does the responsibility of proof fall to?

one big topic that comes up in theist vs atheist debates is who does the responsibility of proof fall to?

does it fall to the creationists to prove that god DOES exist?


does it fall upon those who do believe that god does NOT exist?

AND, can you give your reason(s) why?

I personally think that it is the creationists responsibility to prove god's existance BECAUSE: throughout the entire history of science, science has only ever proven the existance of things, science has NEVER proven that something DOES NOT exhist. eg. earth, air, fire and water were proven not to be elements, because of the discovery of the EXISTANCE of the true elements (hydrogen, carbon etc), but neither earth, air, fire or water were proven not to exist by this discovery, they were simply proven not to be fundamental elements. the EXISTANCE of the atom was proven, and that discovery did not prove the NON-EXISTANCE of anything. the EXISTANCE of the forces of Gravity, Electromagnetism, Strong and Weak nuclear forces have all been proven, but that too has not proven the NON-EXISTANCE of anything. same goes for the existance of micro-organisms, dinosaurs, black holes, other stars, planets, galaxies, protons, electrons, electrons, neutrons, matter, antimatter, energy etc (the list of things that exhist is very VERY long). not once has science ever proven that something does NOT exhist, so why should it start now? why is there no evidence for the non-existance of non-existant things? because non-exhistant things have non-existant evidence for their non-existance, therefore you do not need to provide evidence that proves that something does not exhist, but if you claim that something DOES exhist, you must provide the proof or evidence that it exhists.

please i encourage anyone to comment if they can think of an instance where something has been proven not to exist, unlike the vast majority of creationists, I am open to new knowledge and new information and to changing my personal views and beliefs and to being proven wrong, i am always looking to review and refine my definitions and explanations of my knowledge and beliefs.

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Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 26, 2013 at 11:20pm

Science has quite clearly proven that the Luminiferous Aether does not exist.  It's quite easy to prove that something does not exist when that thing is defined in such a way that it would have some measurable effect on an experiment.

The trouble with disproving 'gods' is that they don't exist, even as a consistently defined philosophical concept.  Gods used to be absolutely real: you could perform a ritual (ie, prayer) and observe a measurable result; they brought living things into existence (ei, every live birth was just willed to be by magic).  Unfortunately, with the invention of statistics, the results of rituals were suddenly claimed to not occur if you were counting.  With an understanding of embryonics, the magic of conception became a spiritual rather than physical event.  The list goes on and on and on.

This leaves us with the world 'god' having no meaning whatsoever.  As soon as you can pin down a theist on their personal definition of their 'god' you can either prove that their god does not exist or prove that it is nothing extraordinary at all.

I don't even bother trying to prove their gods do not exist because I can't find a single theist who will commit to any meaningful definition of what their god is.

Comment by Lance Angus Miles on April 27, 2013 at 3:23am

true, however, the Luminferous Aether was not directy proven to not exist, instead science (courtesy of Einstein) proved the existance of what we call the theory of relativity, which disproved the existance of the Luminferous Aether, there was no way to prove that the Luminferous Aether did not exist without the discovery or proof of the existance of something else in its place.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 27, 2013 at 3:37am

An alternative to the luminiferous aether was not necessary to discounting its existence.  Michelson/Morley only continued their experiments (which showed there was no luminiferous aether) because they were not prepared to accept the rather bizarre but mathematically inherent implications - that time and/or space might not be constant.

Relativity did not prove that the luminiferous aether did not exist - it simply illustrated the mathematical implications of light speed being constant, which was the result of attempts to locate the orientation of the luminiferous aether which did not exist.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 27, 2013 at 3:44am

By the way, had theists been more scientifically literate, the failure of the Michelson/Morley experiments to delineate the orientation of the luminiferous aether COULD have been used to suggest that the earth was centered as well as anchored firmly within a fixed point of the luminiferous aether <- undoing the theological ramifications of Copernicus.

That was one possible interpretation but Einstein chose a more mathematical/less theological approach by mucking with other factors in the velocity equation.  As it is, his theory is the one best supported by data we've really only collected in the last few decades.

Comment by Lance Angus Miles on April 27, 2013 at 5:16am

Luminiferous Aether was a postulated medium in which light propagates, the same as which air and metal are mediums for the propagation of sound waves, long before we discovered that light is in fact a self-propagating transverse wave of electric and magnetic fields inducing each other, which does not travel through any medium, unless you were to consider a vacuum or empty space to be a medium. all mediums for all percievable waves other than light at the time in which the Luminiferous Aether was suggested, were all forms of matter (air, water, metal etc) because at that time light was not known to travel through no medium because even light itself was not properly defined or explained. Luminiferous Aether was an attempted explanation of how light propagates, much like how god is an explanation for how life was created. to quote my hero Christopher Hitchens "if we cannot come up for a good explanation for something, we will come up with a bad one", Luminiferous Aether was a bad explanation which has been replaced by a far better one, courtesy of James Clerk Maxwell we now have such an explanation (one which is supported by evidence) that light does not need a medium, so the propagation of light is now know to not require the existance of a medium which has no proof of its existance. this medium has not been proven not to exhist, it has simply been proven that light can propagate without its existance, much like one could say that the existance of humans and other forms of life is not dependant upon the existance of a divine power, or a "god"

putting this small example aside, my primary question remains. who do you believe the burden of proof falls upon and why?

Comment by Alan C on April 27, 2013 at 9:07am

I think you are looking at this problem the wrong way.  I prefer to look at it as 'how can there be a deity?'

Lance, you are obviously an intelligent man with a good understanding of physics and scientific discoveries throughout history.  Because of this I am going to make some assumptions about your knowledge, the following are based on well documented scientific discoveries that you can research.

I assume that you are probably fairly confident that the earth was formed 4.54 billion years ago and that first life appeared on the planet (prokaryotes) around 3.6 billion years ago, that 99.99% of all species that has lived on earth since then are extinct, that the homo genus evolved around 2.5 million years ago and that what we would think of as anatomically modern humans evolved around 200,000 years ago.

In the last 200,000 years there have been many, many explanations for the occurrence of natural phenomena; thousands of deities, monsters, giant versions of earth based animals and mixtures of all three.  You can read thousands of myths and legends from pre-christian cultures that explain how the earth was made and where people, animals and plants came from, myths created because there were no better explanations at the time.

It was not until a little over two thousand years ago, some 198,000 years after the modern human evolved that someone decided that there should be one god.  And even that is not really true, it was Emperor Constantine 1 (27 February 272 – 22 May 337, Emperor 306-337) who decided that there should be one religion for the Roman Empire and went about deciding which one and what chapters should be included in the book that accompanied the faith.  Then, with a powerful Roman Emperor behind it, that religion's followers went ahead and persecuted all other faiths and forced the populace to 'convert'.

Christianity has been doing the same for the remainder of history, by force of arms, torture, ethnic cleansing and indoctrination.

And therefore, in brief, the bulk of humanity, as we know it, has only believed in a single deity for a little over 10% of its time on this planet, because a very powerful leader decided it should be so.  The religion that bases its beliefs on that deity has persecuted everyone that tries to think or believe differently.  Of course, for balance, the other major abrahamic religion is going through a resurgence and is attempting the same tactics, with a modern twist, now.

So why SHOULD there be a deity that anyone has to prove does not exist?  It is patently obvious it did not exist in the first place. 

Comment by Lance Angus Miles on April 27, 2013 at 9:55am

i completely agree, hence the term Roman Catholic.

however the Christians still wave the whole Jesus-performed-magical-miracles-therefore-he-is-the-son-of-God-therefore-God-exists in front of our face (i would like to make a note that the bible was written by people giving their supposed first hand accounts and witnesses of these "miracles" in a time where all disease was considered to be caused by demons, and that from that time onwards for more than 1,200 years you could be accused of being a witch and burned at the stake just because the plants in your garden grow healthier than that of your neighbour so i would just like to point out the intelligence and reliability of the accounts given by such witnesses) and say that we need to prove them wrong with evidence, despite the fact that they have no verifiable evidence themselves, and try and tell us that we are the ones that must prove our claim and not them, even though they are the ones making the extraordinary claim.

and yes, i have heard your breif, accurate summary of the history of life on our planet "... the earth was formed 4.54 billion years ago and that first life appeared on the planet (prokaryotes) around 3.6 billion years ago, that 99.99% of all species that has lived on earth since then are extinct, that the homo genus evolved around 2.5 million years ago and that what we would think of as anatomically modern humans evolved around 200,000 years ago..." quoted countless times by Christopher Hitchens, facts which in his debates, have rarely been rebuked, if at all.

i will however concede that i have heard one, and only one argument (not evidence, argument) for the existance of a divine power, given by William Lane Craig (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxvalmFOgAcbut) NOT a Christian divine power (which chooses to intervene only in the most illiterate parts of the middle-east). that argument is that the fundamental constants of our universe (speed of light, the strengths of the strong and weak nuclear electromagnetic and gravitational forces relative to each other, the universal gravitational constant, the number of spacial dimensions in spacetime, Coulomb's constant, Planck's constant, magnetic constant, electric constant etc.) are all so precisely fine tuned to where the existance of life such as humans is possible, that the chances of those constants having such precise values when there is literally an infinite number of possible values they could have had when the universe began at the moment of the Big Bang is so infinitesimally small, that there must be deliberate, intelligent design behind it. this frustrates me that i do not have an answer to rebuke this argument, but one aspect of being fair in a debate is conceding when your opposition has a valid argument, if you have an answer or a response to this argument im very keen to hear it, luckily for us, 99.9999...% of creationists aren't intelligent enough to be aware of, let alone understand this argument for their belief haha :P

Comment by Alan C on April 27, 2013 at 10:23am

My argument is, given the chance of ANYTHING happening, does it have to be a deity that caused it?  AND if you are convinced that it has to be a deity so as to be able to design within such a complex series of parameters suitable for life to be able to form, and therefore there must have been a designer, where did that deity come from?

Surely the deity that made the universe must have been designed...by what, another, more complex deity?  So its deities all the way up to infinity, all making heavens for their sub-deities?

Damn, I think I just invented a new religion, from now on I'm going to worship the Infinite Deity!  I can make it like a pyramid scheme, for every time you double the number of people you convert you can move up one level of deity!  Now if I ask every member for just one pound/dollar/rupee, etc. per month, for which the 'converter' keeps 5%, in a few months I can be a millionaire!  I'll be rich beyond my wildest dreams!

Comment by Lance Angus Miles on April 27, 2013 at 10:45am

hmm i never considered that answer. probably because it was such a complex question that i automatically expected it to require an equally as complicated answer. this question still continues to bug me nonetheless.

i do however love when we get to the topic of who created the creator? and who created the creator of that creator? and so on.., because that paradox of the infinite diety is irrelevant if the diety does not exist in the first place hahaha :P that just makes it another example of why the existance of a god creates more questions than it answers (note: "because it is god's will" "god did it" "its that way because god made it that way" are NOT reasonable answers, those are the answers that stupid people use who dont know anything about anything)

Comment by Alan C on April 27, 2013 at 11:32am

Exactly, if there is no infinite deity, with deities all the way down, then something, somewhere popped into existence.  Now what is more likely, an intelligent deity popping into existence with the knowledge of how to build a complex universe and then a planet that will support life, then life itself, without ever appearing in front of humanity or providing evidence of existence OR the big bang causing the universe to pop into existence and then the laws of physics allowing everything else to develop naturally.

What caused the big bang is still unknown, and might never be known, but exactly the same argument can be used against deities, and I know what is more logical to me.  There is NO evidence, ever, of a deity existing.  The circular arguments of the bible, koran, etc. have so many inconsistencies and conflicts to ever allow a sane person to use them for research or evidence.


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