To ponder

Excerpts of posts and articles I found this week in my web research on positive and negative atheism (bold text mine):

Truzzi : “In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded.” (It’s relative; claims are not simply ‘ordinary’ or ‘extraordinary,’ and all claims require evidence.)

Skeptico: “Strictly speaking, all claims require exactly the same amount of evidence, it’s just that most “ordinary” claims are already backed by extraordinary evidence that you don’t think about. When we say “extraordinary claims”, what we actually mean are claims that do not already have evidence supporting them, or sometimes claims that have extraordinary evidence against them.”

Truzzi again: “The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new ‘fact.’ Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of ‘conventional science’ as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis—saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact—he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.”

Skepdic: “Today, there are many bloggers who think atheism should be framed in terms of positive atheism or negative atheism. Positive atheism is called “strong” atheism and holds that no god of any sort exists. Negative or “weak” atheism holds that the evidence doesn’t justify belief in any sort of god, though it is logically possible that some god or gods exist. It seems obvious that strong atheism, like strong theism, requires an act of faith for most gods. However one conceives of one’s god, one can always stipulate that no kind of evidence can ever disprove his or her existence. Your god can be perfectly good but allow evil because his ways can’t be understood by humans. You can claim evil isn’t real, etc. Proving a god doesn’t exist is impossible not because gods exist or “it’s impossible to prove a negative,” but because gods are defined in such a way as to be impossible to disprove their existence. Frankly, concern with this kind of “strong” belief about anything is silly and a waste of time.”

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Posted on January 4, 2012, in Arguments for atheism, Arguments for theism, Logic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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