September 28, 2020

Burden of Proof

meditation Quite a while back I made a comment talking about the Expelled movie where I talked about the “Burden of Proof” and where it lies.  From there, I entered into a fascinating discussion on an atheist blog digging deeper into the topic.  I learned a few things from this discussion, and I thought I’d share a few things with you.

What It Means

“Burden of Proof” is a legal term, and refers to the person bringing the complaint.  The person bringing the complaint is the one that typically has to prove that his complaint is valid.  When I said that the burden of proof was on the Atheist, I was perhaps a bit too simplistic.

Obviously, the scientific community is united behind a belief in TENS (Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection) and the Creationists are trying to prove that it’s not a tenable philosophy.

However, given one of my chief arguments– that TENS and YEC (Young Earth Creationism) both are worldviews explaining facts around them– in a Creationist perspective those that proclaim TENS also have a burden of proof on them.  So, it’s a matter of perspective, and subject to the discussion.

Indeed, on my blog, YEC is the accepted truth and TENS must proof itself otherwise.  Again, this may be a simplistic understanding, but I believe it holds itself in the bounds of the definition of the term.

Slippery Definitions

The definition of Atheism is slippery– in that it has to change with the arguments placed against it to avoid being trapped.  Whereas YEC always means the same thing (a person believing that God created the world in 6 literal days), Atheist may mean that a person believes that there is no god all the way to a person that should be better termed agnostic– I don’t believe there’s a god, so I assume that there is not one.

Here’s where the “null hypothesis” came into the discussion.  Simply put, if the data point is unknown, a value must be assumed in order to make sense of other things.  When it comes down to it, this value is placed there based on faith and what seems logical to the individual.  Theists believe that the number is greater that 0, Atheists believe it to be 0.

So, Atheists avoid the untenable position of having to defend “in order to prove that there is no god, you’d have to know that in all of space/time there is and never was one” by claiming that it’s unknown and assuming it to be 0.  A handy trick, and a rational thing to do, even if it’s just semantics.


Atheists like to play the evidence card.  I found myself quickly inside a discussion that talked about there being no evidence for God.  When pressed, it changed to a discussion about the quality of evidence equaling no evidence.

This is important.

The original statement read “I’ve seen no evidence.”  The problem with this statement is that– to put it bluntly– it’s false.  Most atheists have either read YEC sites, they’ve read parts of the Bible, or some other source– even if it’s just this blog.  They may not trust the things they have read, they may not believe it, but it’s intellectually dishonest to say they haven’t seen it.

As for the “questionable or bad evidence = no evidence”, again, we’re not in  a scientific realm but in a court room.  All kinds of things are presented in a case to make the point– and it’s the final decision that should encompass all the evidence– and questionable evidence may be admitted.

One of the charges was about when the Gospels were written.  I mused on this topic last week.  But we won’t go into it now…

The point is, make sure that you realize that when you’re talking about evidence you’re not simply talking scientific evidence, but documentary and literary evidence.  The atheist must come face to face with the question “if there is a god, would we expect him to communicate with us or not?” and “if they did, would everyone believe it happened?”

These are good questions, and things to think about.  What I’ve learned is that there is still a lot to learn.

Further reading on this topic

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10 thoughts on “Burden of Proof

  1. One thing I’ve noticed is that those who “preach” evolution talk about the body of evidence in favor of it, yet the only “evidence” I’ve ever heard of has proven false or highly suspect. I also find it interesting that any arguments trying to show that the Bible is false, upon closer inspection have been shown to be incorrect.

    Christine @ Serenity How?s last blog post..Blogger’s Day Planner

  2. It really, really, really depends on your worldview. If you believe in Darwinism or Intelligent Design, those presuppositions will affect how you interpret the evidence.

    AGs last blog post..Crazy Beautiful!

  3. Musicguy: Thanks for asking. The most common sources I see cited as evidence in support of Darwinism are: Darwin’s finches, Haeckel’s embryos, and the fossil record.

    With regard to the finches, Darwin was later proven wrong. Haeckel’s embryos were faked, and there’s been no good explanation for the gaps in the fossil record, only good excuses in my opinion (and I recognize that as my personal opinion.)

    As for sources, they are numerous and I would encourage you to look them up on your own. You will find plenty of sources (as I did) citing these as evidence or proof despite their flaws.

    If Darwinism were taught as merely a theory or as one possibility, I would not be nearly as bothered (although it’s obvious I disagree.) What concerns me most is that it’s not treated with any objectivity by those who hold on to it as not a theory, but as AG stated a worldview in which there is no room for the possibility of a divine Creator.

    Christine @ Serenity How?s last blog post..The Ways of the Lawn – Part 2

  4. “the Creationists are trying to prove that it’s not a tenable philosophy.”

    Even Darwin understood it was not a tenable philosophy in the sense that he said that he would not want to live in “such a world” as far as human morality (or lack thereof) might be derived from evolution. However, it is the only tenable science. And now T. Rex DNA is similar to modern birds. And there’s Tiktaalik. So sure, if you want to ignore astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, and a host of other fields of science, (not to mention biology), go ahead and believe your dusty old book.

    “As for sources, they are numerous”

    Yes, there’s certainly no “suppression” of creationists’ silly ideas. Now about that “Germ Theory of Disease”. Let’s not get carried away and let a child die by ignoring modern medicine and simply praying that she will get well. Oh, they did. I’m sorry. Well, ideas have consequences.

    And then there’s the understanding about lactose-intolerance, gluten intolerance, etc. All genetically-based problems. Well, modern medicine doesn’t need “evolution”, just ask Egnor, the DI’s medical stooge. So we wouldn’t want to actually come up with a cure for these problems if it required us to understand the genetics, would we? That might be a little too close to endorsing evolution.

    “given one of my chief arguments– that TENS and YEC (Young Earth Creationism) both are worldviews explaining facts around them”

    So of course your “creation science” is just as good as “real science” – that’s why the Supreme Court and the judge at Dover ruled it religion, not science. They actually had real trials, not pseudo-trials.

    The ICR wanted to have a master of “science education” degree program and the Texas board to permit such a thing said “go away and file your lawsuit”. So maybe we will have yet another “my religion is too science” trial.

    “but it’s intellectually dishonest to say they haven’t seen it.”

    No one claims that they have not seen it. So no one is “intellectually dishonest”. You’re just trying to score debating points by beating up a strawman. We’ve all seen that silly “evidence” 100 times in the last 40 years. But it’s obvious anti-science nonsense. So it’s not really “evidence”. So it is true, in fact, that there’s “no real evidence”.

  5. Christine, your response to Musicguy makes it painfully obvious that you’ve never learned anything about biology that didn’t come from a creationist source. You would do well to actually look into the subject (take a class or three for starters).

    Actually, take a class on the whole idea of science in the first place so that you’ll know what “theory” means.

    IAMBs last blog post..*Cough* *Gurgle* *Croak*

  6. I have copied a comment from elsewhere by “Chuck”:

    Science is an internally consistent ”game” made up by humans to describe the physical world. It has rules. It isn’t the only way to look at the world. Isn’t even mutually exclusive of other ways of looking at the world. Creation Science and ID people are like a kid showing up at a football game carrying a bat because they want a hit. All I can say is it’s the wrong game with the wrong rules for what they want. The hostility and argument is like what you sometimes get with a 5 year old that doesn’t get her way. ”But I want it to work the way I want it to!”

    Sorry kid, those are the rules. Go make up your own game. But don’t call it science, there is already a game with that name.

  7. “when you’re talking about evidence you’re not simply talking scientific evidence”

    Oh yes we are.

    “The atheist must come face to face with the question “if there is a god, would we expect him to communicate with us or not?””

    Since the premise is assumed to be false, the question is silly.

    Turn the question around – if a supernatural entity (whatever that might be) did “communicate with us” in the past, why doesn’t it do it again in the present? But if it really did communicate in a convincing (scientific) way, then it would no longer be supernatural. We would ask it questions and it would give answers and we would say “perhaps you’re smarter, but you don’t have all the answers”. After all, at that point it’s only a natural entity.

    So there’s never going to be a “compromise” between natural science and supernatural religion.

  8. “The most common sources I see cited as evidence in support of Darwinism are: Darwin’s finches, Haeckel’s embryos, and the fossil record.”

    So it is obvious that you are not qualified to have an opinion on this subject. Did you ever hear about DNA?

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