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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Burden of Proof

There is a quijibo living in my house. Prove to me that it does not exist!

You can't. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to prove to me that it doesn't exist. You can use all your fancy scientific methods of observation to try and prove me wrong, but you will never convince me because I had a personal revelation a few days ago in which the quijibo made himself known to me. Science can explain a lot, but it can't explain the supernatural. So don't even try to convince me otherwise. I know the quijibo exists and you are merely anti-quijiboan if you say otherwise.

Now of course you don't have to prove that my quijibo doesn't exist. Why should the fact that I concocted an entity known to me as a quijibo burden you to prove that it doesn't exist? There are an unlimited amount of supernatural phenomenon I could dream up which you have never considered before. Should you be required to prove that each and every one of them does not exist in order to know that they don't exist? Are you not reasonable in stating that my quijibo doesn't exist until I can prove that it does?

OK, so I'm the only one who believes in a quijibo. It is easy to write me off as a nutcase. But what if we replace my supernatural entity with another one, one that has a much bigger following. You know who I'm talking about, the big man in the sky. Does the fact that more people believe in God than in my quijibo shift any of the burden of proof on to the non-believer to prove that God doesn't exist? Are we not still just as justified to say that God doesn't exist as we are to say that my quijibo doesn't exist?

Just as with my quijibo, the default and rational position is that God doesn't exist until proven otherwise. There is definitely a comfort in numbers, but appeal to the masses (tradition) is not a valid argument for theism for the same reason that personal revelation is not valid, they are both too subjective to be used as proof. Whether one or one billion believe in some supernatural concept, the burden of proof is still completely on the believer and the reasonable and rational default position is that it doesn't exist.

In fact, it has to be this way in order for religion to exist in the first place. For example, does the Christian need to prove that every other supernatural god created, or that could be created does not exist? Does he need to prove that my quijibo is not the supreme ruler of the universe? No. The default and rational position is that all those other supernatural entities do not exist. If this weren't the case, if he were forced to prove that all other gods did not exist in order to justify his own belief, then he would never be able to believe in his own god because it would be impossible to disprove all the others just as he would claim it is impossible for atheists to disprove his own.

Just as the burden of proof does not shift to the Christian with regards to other gods, it does not shift to the atheist with regards to any gods. The default and rational stance is that no gods exist until proven otherwise. The only difference between the Christian and the atheist is that the Christian is willing to accept anecdotal proof for belief in his God while atheists are not (or for any supernatural god for that matter).

One more time, repeat after me. The burden of proof is on the believer and the rational position is that supernatural entities do not exist until proven otherwise.

3 Comments:

Anonymous High Ideologue said...

Scientists in various fields of study have found much to say about the theory that happiness leads to better health and behavior. There are completely new fields of scientific research that address the relationship between emotions and physical health. This scientific research seems to affirm the theory that optimistic thoughts, beliefs, and expectations about self and world have a positive influence on our health. Our various health behaviors, our immune functions, and our biochemical functions are believed by scientists to be improved by our optimistic thoughts, beliefs, and expectations about self and world in ways that make our bodies more resistant to illness and better able to recover from existing disease.  

The idea that we must accept as truth the idea of the non-existence of a deity and or deities because of our failure to be able to use our senses and perceptions to gather objective evidence that leads by valid logical deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that a deity and or deities exists is without merit; because the idea of the non-existence of a deity and or deities is itself a myth. Use of our senses and perceptions to verify that a myth is true makes no sense as a criterion for choosing a myth to believe because myth is myth.

If we recognize that the mystery of existence makes possible an infinite number, diversity and variety of myths only limited by our creative abilities and powers of imagination; and we desire to use ideas that are both possible and imaginable to build a model of self and world in our minds that produces emotional balance conducive to happiness and health; then the logical choice for us to make is to believe in the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence that enables us to have the highest esteem of self and world that we can possibly imagine. That is to believe in divine eternal parts of self and world that I call soul and spirit.

The logical meaning of the word valid is: Containing premises from which the conclusions may be logically be derived. The absence of evidence is not the proof of absence and therefore does not lead by valid logical deductive inference to the conclusion of non-existence. Your entire argument is fallacious and invalid. Your CHOICE of default position is arbitrary. If your choice is arbitrary, then why settle for the myth of non-existence as your default position? If your choice is arbitrary, then why settle for anything less than the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence that enables us to have the highest esteem of self and world that we can imagine: That is: In the absence of evidence and until proven otherwise, why not choose the myth of an infinity, divinity, eternally, one as your default theory? Why not affirm an inability to know the unknowable; claim that this inability leads to a belief in the truth that myth is myth; and choose the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence that enables us to have the highest esteem of self and world we can possibly imagine as your default position?

How you might ask do I deal with the possible follow up assertion?: If in the absence of evidence and until proven otherwise we don’t accept the myth of non-existence as the rational default position than any default position can be valid. The beliefs of Muslim extremists would be valid (as a default position). Another meaning of the word valid is: producing desired results. How could making the beliefs of Muslim extremists produce desired results. What desired results would a fraudulent affirmation of an ability to know the unknowable based the lie that myth is truth produce? Are you saying that producing mendacity as a life style is a desirable result? Truth is an idea or set of ideas that can be verified to be true by our senses and perceptions. We do not verify an idea to be true by claiming "Oh I sensed or perceived a good one in Heaven at war with an evil one cast down to and ruling over Earth that only I can sense and perceive and everybody else has to take my word for it because I am special; because of my prestige or status within society; and or because of the size of the army I can raise to force others to agree". We verify an idea to be true by using our senses and perceptions to gather objective evidence that leads by valid logical deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that an idea is true. In that light, we can see that the beliefs of Muslim extremists follow from a fraudulent affirmation of an ability to know the unknowable based on the lie that myth is truth. Muslim extremists perpetrate this fraud in order to be able to make terrorist threats against the life and or after life of anybody that does not submit to their authority. Muslim Extremists use these terrorists threats to extort tithes or offerings in exchange for a life long indoctrination in the lie that myth is truth. If results we desire to produce are truthfulness as a lifestyle, then in the absence of evidence and until proven other wise the beliefs of Muslim extremists are invalid as a new default position.

This argument applies equally well to the belief of all who make a fraudulent affirm an ability to know the unknowable based on the lie that myth is truth. If results we desire to produce are truthfulness as a lifestyle, then in the absence of evidence and until proven otherwise the new default theory follows from an affirmation of an inability to know the unknowable based on the truth that myth is myth. This leads us back to the original point I made your arbitrary choice of the myth of non-existence as a default theory. If your choice is arbitrary, then why settle for the myth of non-existence as your default theory? If your choice is arbitrary, then why settle for anything less than the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence that enables us to have the highest esteem of self and world that we can imagine: That is: In the absence of evidence and until proven otherwise, why not affirm an inability to know the unknowable; claim that this inability leads to a belief in the truth that myth is myth; and choose the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence that enables us to have the highest esteem of self and world we can possibly imagine as your default theory?

Sat May 24, 01:03:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous High Ideologue said...

Scientists say that we use our senses and perceptions to gather objective evidence that leads by valid logical deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that an idea that something exists is true and that is how verification is achieved. What happens if there is a failure to achieve verification because of an absence of evidence that leads by valid logical deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that the idea that something exists is true? Some maintain that in the absence of evidence and until proven otherwise the rational default position is a belief in non-existence. The meaning of the word rational is logical, sane, and or consistent with or based on reason. The meaning word default is to fail to do something that is required. The something that is required by scientists is the verification of the truth of the idea that something exists. Certainly this provides a way of dealing with those who make wild claims such as: There is an alien spaceship buried fifty miles beneath Manhattan; George W. Bush is the reincarnation of Julius Caesar; and Elvis’s ghost is living on Pluto. Another way of dealing with such claims is to ask: Have you ever actually used your senses and perceptions to gather objective evidence that leads by logical valid deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that the claim you are making is true? If the person making the wild claim replies no; then respond: If you can not say that you have used your senses and perceptions to gather objective evidence that leads by valid logical deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that your claim is true then your claim is a myth. If your claim is a myth, then it is a lie for you to claim that myth is truth. This is a round about way of dismissing as a liar the person making the wild claim.

The problem with the taking a default position that seems like a rational way of dealing with wild claims and applying it to a belief in the existence of divine eternal parts of self and world that I call soul and spirit is the results produced are not rational; and neither are the results valid. Let us suppose for a moment that there is an absence of evidence as some claim. The absence of evidence is not the proof of absence and therefore does not lead by valid logical deductive inference to the scientifically reproducible discovery that soul and spirit do not exist. The idea that divine eternal parts of self and world that I call soul and spirit do not exist is a myth; and therefore the so-called rational default position leads to an arbitrary choice of conclusion. The fact of the matter is the presence of the universe is presence of evidence that leads by logical valid inductive inference to the conclusion that soul and spirit exist and to the conclusion that soul and spirit do not exist. We simply do not have enough evidence to determine at this time if either of these two conclusions is correct. To believe otherwise is to maintain an irrational default position.

This leads us back to the assertion that results produced by your default position are invalid. Another meaning of the word valid is: producing desired results. In light of scientific research that seems to affirm the theory that optimistic thoughts, beliefs, and expectations about self and world have a positive influence on our health, how does choosing to believe in a myth that leads to pessimistic thoughts, beliefs and expectations about self and world produce desirable results?
Given that our various health behaviors, our immune functions, and our biochemical functions are believed by scientists to be improved by our optimistic thoughts, beliefs, and expectations about self and world in ways that make our bodies more resistant to illness and better able to recover from existing disease; why not choose to believe in the one myth that enables you to have the most optimistic thoughts, beliefs and expectations about self and world possible. In presence of evidence in the form of the universe, and until proven otherwise, why not choose as your default theory the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence the enables you to have the highest esteem of self and world that you can possibly imagine. Even if your doing so causes you to create a model of self and world that is not in accord with actuality, at least you might have a happier and perhaps healthier life.

Again I am not suggesting that you affirm an ability to know the unknowable based on the lie that myth is truth. I am suggesting that you affirm an inability to know the unknowable based on the truth that myth is myth; and choose to believe in the one myth out of all made possible by the mystery of existence that enables you to have the most optimistic thoughts, beliefs and expectations about self and world; because doing so creates emotional balance conducive to happiness and health; and not because of the lie that myth is truth.

Sat May 24, 04:23:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Jimmy Higgins said...

You know, it is less important whether the quijibo exists, but how good it tastes with BBQ sauce and on a bun.

Nice article. Though I'd argue that happiness comes from being able to accept that life is impermanent and recognize what will and won't make you happy.

Thu Mar 12, 09:10:00 AM 2009  

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