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Margee

'prove' The Non-existence Of God ?

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Doesn't an atheist have to actively assert the non-existence of deity, to defend that position?

My only "position" is that I don't believe in things that are highly improbable if they have no evidence. In other words, I don't need to prove that the multitude of magical beings others have claimed to be real in fact do not exist; those making the claims must provide evidence if I am to take them seriously. That is not taking a position that must be defended, it's common sense.

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Does this mean that we all still have a certain degree of 'faith' - that there is no god?

I don't consider atheism to be an active position. It takes no faith to NOT believe in invisible pink unicorns, but if no evidence is ever presented for same, then you can reach a reasonably certain conclusion about it.

 

Margee's going to drive you crazzzzzy tonight! :wacko: Doesn't an atheist have to actively assert the non-existence of deity, to defend that position?

 

You're confusing knowledge with belief. Agnosticism is a position of knowledge, atheism a position of belief. The agnostic says we cannot know whether a god exists or not. Atheism is a lack of belief in one or more (but usually all) gods. Therefore when I call myself an agnostic atheist, I am saying that we cannot know whether there is a god or not, but I most certainly do not believe that any of the gods which have previously been defined by humans are our creator.

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Margee, you have received some very good responses to your question and I applaud all of those responses. I would like to give you some guidelines to use in this inquiry.

 

When setting out to "prove" something, one way or the other, you must first define what it means to prove something. Does proof require 100% certainty or will something less than that do? Here's an example to illustrate the point. Let's say a young woman gets pregnant and takes a man to court seeking child support from that man. She claims, of course, that he is the child's father amd, therefore, should be required to pay child support. The man denies paternity and demands a DNA test. So they do the DNA test.

 

Now, let's assume the DNA test comes back negative. That is, it shows that the man is not the child's father. Assuming the test was done properly and nothing got screwed up in the laboratory, then that is 100% proof he is not the father.

 

Now, let's assume the DNA test comes back positive. That is, it shows that the man is the child's father. To really understand the DNA test, one must understand that the results of a positive DNA match is not 100% proof of paternity. It is really a statement of odds. It is saying that certain markers in the man's DNA showed up in the child and the odds are something like we are 99% certain that this man is the child's father. But the expert who testifies on the witness stand will concede that there is a chance that the man is not the child's father. He or she will concede that it is possible that some other man who has those same DNA markers could be the father. In that situation, the Court will accept that DNA test as proof of paternity, even if the woman slept with five or ten other men while she was capable of getting pregnant. The man could insist that all of the other five or ten men also be given a DNA tests, but chances are that his lawyer will advise him that he is wasting his money since he would have to pay for those tests.

 

The point is that in my example, "proof" did not require 100% certainty.

 

But, neither does proof necessarily require 99% certainty. Let's say someone is accused of murder and stands trial and that there is no DNA evidence involved at all. The whole case is based on eye-witness testimony, motive, lack of an alibi, opportunity, etc. After the trial is over and the jury is to deliberate to make their decision, the judge will instruct them that the State has the burden of proof and that the standard of that proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt." Note that the judge will not instruct the jury that they must be 100% certain to convict. All the state has to do is to convince the jury "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the accused is guilty. And, what is more, at least in those States where the death penalty may be imposed, the man, if convicted, can be legally executed based on that same standard, "beyond a reasonable doubt." So, even to execute somebody, we need not prove a person's guilt to 100% certainty.

 

So when you ask can we prove that god does not exist, think about what it means to prove something. But there is another aspect you need to consider beyond what level of proof is required. And that is how well defined is this god.

 

If we are called upon to "prove" the existence or non-existence of a well-defined deity like bible god, then we have the whole bible to use since in its pages it defines this god fairly well. So we could point out inconsistencies and the like and assert as a matter of logic that this particularly well-defined deity could not exist as a matter of logic. But even that could not be up to the 100% standard, but may reach something akin to "beyond a reasonable doubt."

 

However, and this further distinction is important, if what we are called upon to prove or disprove is whether some amorphous, ill-defined concept of god exists or not, that is a whole different matter. Let's say the issue is whether some deity created the universe. For purposes of the issue, there is no definition beyond that it is a being with the power to create something from nothing and that this deity created our universe. That would be something that no one could ever prove or disprove, I believe, even to the level of "beyond a reasonable doubt." Each side would have their arguments, but I think it would be a stalemate between the two sides. At that level, then, the issue becomes a matter of personal persuasion. That is, does the level of proof satisfy you personally.

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[is it possible to prove the non-existence of god just by saying we don't have verification? :shrug:

 

I want to address this specific question, Margee. The short answer to your question is no.

 

Saying that we have seen no evidence that is satisfactory does not "prove" the non-existence of god. Let's take whether cigarette smoking increases the risk of lung cancer. In the 1930s there was mounting evidence that there might be a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. This correlation was based primarily on anecdotal reports in the medical literature where doctors would report that they had a patient or patients who died of lung cancer and they would remark that his person smoked. Those case reports grew in number as time went on. But any scientist worth his or her salt would concede that those case reports were not proof. So during that time period, would it have been proper for the cigarette companies to make the affirmative assertion that cigarette smoking does not cause lung cancer? I do not think the cigarette companies could have made that assertion because it would have been based on a lack of evidence. The most they could have said would was that those case reports do not prove that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.

 

If the cigarette companies had made an affirmative statement that cigarette smoking does not cause lung cancer, then they would have to justify that affirmative statement by providing some positive evidence. For example, they would have had to have done their own studies on the subject and, assuming their studies failed to show a correlation, then they could have said our studies provide some evidence that cigarette smoking does not cause lung cancer.

 

Now, let's take this to the existence of god. Let's look at a few scenarios:

 

1. In this scenario, the person says they have no idea one way or the other whether god exists. They have made no statement one way or the other and so they have nothing to prove. If someone wants to try to convince that person that there is a god, then that person must present their evidence to this person.

 

2. In this scenario, the person says they have seen no evidence that convinces them that god exists. What this statement assumes is that they have seen what evidence is out there, but they reject it. This person really does not have any burden beyond their statement because they have simply rejected the evidence of others.

 

3. In this scenario, the person says they have seen no evidence that convinces them that god exists and so they conclude god does not exist. At this point, the person making the statement has made an affirmative assertion and with that affirmative assertion, they do have a burden to support their affirmative assertion. They have to prove that the evidence that is out there is unsufficient, why it is insufficient, and how the lack of evidence proves their affirmative assertion that there is no god.

 

4. In this scenario, the person says there is no god. That is an affirmative statement and the person is called upon to justify the affirmative statement. They can't just lay back and claim it is based on a lack of evidence because that is not what they have said. They have made an affirmative statement that god does not exist and so they have the burden to justify the statement.

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The question being asked assumes "God" exists and I, as an atheist, have to prove otherwise. So what is it, exactly, I need to disprove? Do you have an example? Most likely you're sending me on a wild goose chase. I'll head into the woods looking for this "God" and no matter what I find it won't be "God" or at least your "God." Maybe Bigfoot would be a better comparison? How long have people looked for that thing? And how many theories as to what it just might be have come and gone? But no "Bigfoot." Just wasted time and energy. Into the woods they go and back out they come empty handed. Nessie was (and maybe still is) another one. Once they exhaust all their efforts searching for one type of creature, like a Neanderthal or something, they decide it really wasn't that and now it's some sort of ape or whatever (I really don't follow this enough to know if these are things they actually think about Bigfoot). But the point is the searches fail, the creature evolves, then the searches continue. And on and on. One day maybe they'll capture some large, furry, animal, and that will become "Bigfoot," but that doesn't mean it always was and has been Bigfoot. It's just now what satisfies the people (most like only some of the people and others will keep searching for the "real" Bigfoot).

 

So what is "God?" A man, or group of men/women, on a mountain? A cloud? A sphere covering the planet? A spirit of some sort? Maybe some animals? Nature then? The universe? The omniverse? The parallel-omniverse? A combination of these? None of these? Turtles? What is it I'm debunking? First I would need to figure out what "God" is then I would need to debunk it. But if I find "God" I surely couldn't debunk it at that point. I may not worship it, because who says a "god" must be worshiped, but to find any gods is to acknowledge them. That's the reasonable course. To date only stories of gods exist. Not the actual deities in those stories themselves. Debunking stories is easy. This has been done many times over. The gods have yet to be presented for examination. Stories are not gods. Don't be fooled.

 

mwc

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I just want to thank you all, my dear friends for taking the time to answer and give me all your opinions on this issue. I will again tomorrow, when I am not so tired, go over each and every explanation that you offered to me. What a friggin' bunch of intelligent people on this site. I was so lucky the day I joined this group. Love to each and everyone of you tonight - and again....thank you............:kiss:

 

Sincerely, Margee

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Atheists literally have nothing to prove. Only by verifying there is SOME thing there is it possible to prove no thing. So the burden of proof is on the believers.

 

As it stands, nobody has been able to prove anything one way or another. I have seen nothing to prove to me that there is a god, so I have no reason to believe in one. It's a passive stance.

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Agnostics and Atheists - Question Please.:scratch:

 

How do we 'prove' the non-existence of god? I heard it said many times here that we see no evidence for the existence of god. It that it in a nutshell? Do we have better arguments than this?

 

Is it possible to prove the non-existence of god just by saying we don't have verification? :shrug:

 

 

It is interesting that Christians run on the baseless assumption of God's existence and then demand that others prove them wrong. The problem with proof is that people will believe whatever they want even when faced with evidence to the contrary. Thus Christian apologetics. So my answer is that it depends on the person to whom you are trying to prove it to.

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God only exists between the ears of a believer. Other than that, he does not exist as an entity.

 

Man believes in immortality but sadly, the only truth that comes out of the church is dust to dust...

 

If I meet a god in an afterlife I deny exists, he better be wearing a nad protector as a kick in the nads is what is what he will get from me. :)

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