You can't prove God doesn't exist

From Iron Chariots Wiki
Revision as of 22:48, 30 November 2008 by Thomas (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

It is not uncommon to hear statements like, "You can't prove God doesn't exist," from apologists when they are challenged to support the claim that God exists. Such statements are an attempt to shift the burden of proof, a kind of logical fallacy.

Statements like this — which is a special case of the more general claim, "You can't prove a negative" — are based on the premise that belief in God is justified until sufficient evidence is presented to refute such existence. While this response may be considered sound under a world view which accepts the premise, this is simply a form of compartmentalization. If we were to apply that premise to all claims, we'd be unable to develop any useful picture of reality, since every claim would then have to be accepted as true (until it is disproved — a burden which is especially difficult when dealing with supernatural claims).

To put it more bluntly, no sane human being would seriously claim that because we have not disproved the existence of leprechauns or unicorns, they must therefore exist (or must be assumed to exist).

More tellingly, though, apologists typically only apply this premise to questions that address their particular religion — and nothing else. The same Christian, for example, who argues, "You can't prove God doesn't exist," would almost certainly reject such an attempt to shift the burden of proof if it was attempted by, say, a Hindu: "You can't prove Vishnu doesn't exist!" This compartmentalization is a form of special pleading.

A somewhat famous counter-argument was posed by Bertrand Russell when he said the following:

"If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."


God is not the same as a teapot, leprechaun or a unicorn; because these three things take up space, consist out of matter and exist in time, so we might not be sure that there is a teapot in orbit around Mars, but it would be possible to travel to Mars and discover if there is a teapot. In other words. The teapot is described as existing in the same basic reality we exist in.

The Christian believe is that God is not part of this universe, but is separate from it and makes his presence known by creating a natural order (time, space and matter) for man to exist in, thus the existence of God is taken to be a priori and can not be verified a posteriori.

This is similar to the principles of contradiction which can not be explained a posteriori but only a priori.

This makes the idea of God a metaphysical notion which can only be disproven by another set of metaphysical doctrines that isolates and captures the notion of God, very similar to the way that the Christian God captures the Hindu God Vishnu; because Vishnu has a form, he takes part in the natural order of the universe, if he manifests directly to the human consciousness then he would exist in time, space and through matter; while the notion of God precedes the natural order and the notion of God does not directly manifest in the human consciousness but only through dialectics or intuition, he is a cause before a cause.

Personal tools
wiki navigation