This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
OK. By Antony's logic, it would be irrational for any Christian to disbelieve in Zeus, Pangu, or Brahman.
Someone posted a response here back in 2010:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2010/07/do-new-atheists-unjustifiably-shirk-their-burden-for-evidence/#disqus_threadHopefully this will stimulate some more discussion.
ajq1987,Thanks for posting that link. Daniel Fincke did an excellent job of addressing the issue. Frankly, I can't think of much else to say about it. The only thing that comes to mind is the general rule regarding the burden of proof: the burden of proof resides with the alternative hypothesis and NOT with the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is what one would assume to true if there was NO evidence at all. When we consider questions about the existence of something we need to remember that there are vast number (perhaps infinite) number of things that could exist but don't and that there is a finite number of things that actually do exist. So, if you pick a possible thing at random then it almost certainly doesn't exist - which means that "non-existence" is the null hypothesis in existence questions and therefore the burden of proof is always with the side claiming a thing exists.With respect to the question of the so called strong position of atheism that makes the positive claim about the non-existence of any gods, I think in terms of a criminal trial analogy. Here in the US the defendant does not have to prove that he is innocent, all he has to do is show that the prosecution has failed to prove his guilt - he does not have any burden of proof. But that doesn't stop him from presenting a positive defense attempting to prove his innocence. So, the so called "weak" atheist position is analogous to claiming that the prosecution has failed to prove guilt and the "strong" position is analogous to claiming to demonstrate innocence. But in neither case does the defendant (or the atheist) actually have the burden of proof.
JDH: So, if you pick a possible thing at random then it almost certainly doesn't exist - which means that "non-existence" is the null hypothesis in existence questions and therefore the burden of proof is always with the side claiming a thing exists.VR: Even if that "thing" is the external world?
VR: Even if that "thing" is the external world?JDH: My initial reaction is to say yes - after all it was good enough for Descartes. But I tend to side with that Prime Minister (Disraeli?)who kicked a rock to counter Berkeley's notion that only Ideas are real. As I see it, I have a simulation of the external world in my brain that captures some aspects of that reality that are useful for staying alive. But that manifest image of reality is only a tiny sliver of the full range of reality. So, for me, the task is not to decide if the external world exists but to determine what aspects of the external world are real and what is stuff we just made up. I guess the central tenant that I hold is that the real world can hurt you even if you don't believe in it. But if you have something that isn't real then it can only hurt you if you do believe in it. A rather pragmatic philosophy.
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