I cannot adequately respond without copying part of the article here, so let's do that.
This is my response, although he doesn’t really have much of substance to say.Well, that's interesting. If there's nothing much of substance, it shouldn't have taken her nearly so many words to respond.
He is one of the legion of intellectually dishonest atheists spawned by Antony Flew who want to stack the deck against theists by special pleading, whereby they claim that atheism is the default position or, as Josh mistakenly calls it, the null position.No, I'm simply picking apart your argument. That's called a poisoning the well fallacy, but you already knew that, right? Also, attacking something other than the actual point is not a valid argument either.
As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, my standard response to the dishonest tactic of attempting to place the burden of proof entirely on the theist is simply to ask “by what right do you do this?”Okay, I'll play your game. I haven't read the entire article yet, but by what right do you place the burden on the other theists? You must, by your own logic, prove that other gods don't exist also. You've said it yourself, if you don't believe in other gods, you have to show equally they don't exist.
Unless, as I stated, atheism is in fact a null position, and doesn't require the burden of proof.
I presume you'll be presenting your evidence for why the two-thousand or so other gods don't exist, to meet your burden of proof. Unless you're just going to continue engaging in special pleading.
Remember, you and I both agree that Thor doesn't exist, and you're presenting exactly as much 'evidence' to 'prove' he doesn't as I am. We're both atheist in this regard, after all. So go ahead, if the burden's on you, then carry it. I don't think it is your burden to prove a god doesn't exist, but you do. This is the crux of your entire argument so far.
Since anyone who claims that the burden of proof falls on someone else is by doing so necessarily making a claim, it is perfectly reasonable to ask him to proof his own claim that the burden of proof is yours. After all, he is the one claiming something about the matter.Not true. Your claim has to present sufficient evidence in the first place, for the counter to have a burden. This isn't a claim. If you can't show evidence that your claim is correct, then there's literally no burden to disprove it. I can't refute evidence you won't provide. Simply claiming something without evidence is generally called a false premise. A premise is not true simply because you assert it.
It's like this. If I were to say that Harry Potter were a real person, living today, but I couldn't show you a picture of him, then my claim has the burden of proof, because there's no evidence to support it. Again, this was the entire crux of your point. A claim with no evidence is not a claim that meets the burden of proof.
I know others have covered this extensively. Your inability to understand it isn't my problem, though I am taking the time to explain it once again here.
I sum it up in the card, where I present the intellectually dishonest “burden of proof” atheist with a dilemma: either he abide by his own principle and prove his claim that I have the burden of proof; or he admit that his principle is only for me and not for him, in which case I reject his principle as a obvious special pleading. There really isn’t a third alternative: either this principle applies to both of us, or neither of us.Excellent point: See above two points. The card is on her blog. Go look at it if you want. I tore it apart in my response.
First, Josh makes the bizarre claim that a claim about where the burden of proof lies … is not a claim.It's not bizarre. If you have no evidence for a positive claim, then you do not have a claim which meets its burden of proof. This isn't a claim on its own. I know I'm repeating myself here, but if you have no evidence for something, you haven't actually made a factual claim. I can claim that the moon is made out of cheese, but it doesn't mean that someone who disagrees has a burden of proof.
Now, if I had some lunar cheese, then the burden of proof would shift. However, the burden of proof itself is not a claim, it's an intrinsic property of a claim. Surely you can understand that, for example, any given individual part of a car is not, itself, a car. In the same way, the constituents of a claim are not, themselves, claims. Points of argument are not the premises, they define how we work with premises.
A claim is basically a synonym for an assertion, and an assertion of where the burden of proof lies is most certainly as assertion, so I have no idea what Josh is thinking when he denies that this claim is claim.So to break this down:
A: All assertions are claims.
B: Burden of proof is an assertion
Conclusion: Burden of proof is a claim
B is a false premise. It's not an assertion, it's determined by the amount of evidence for a claim. But let's pretend it is a claim, giving her the benefit of the doubt. She has yet to show why, even if it is a claim, that it's false. This is what's called a non-sequitur. Unless she can demonstrate (and she hasn't) that the burden of proof is met for her argument, this point is unrelated to the original point: that she does, in fact, have the burden of proof, as she has provided no actual evidence of her original claim.
He doesn’t say. Perhaps no thinking was involved. Or perhaps he has that special psychosis found among atheists where they believe the things they claim are “facts” which therefore do not require any argument or evidence?There it is, that special pleading again. If you have evidence your god exists, present it. Otherwise, I literally have no burden of proof because I have no evidence to disprove. If you won't present evidence, I can't argue with it. If you can't present evidence, then you don't have a claim in the first place.
Again, I don’t know, since Josh merely asserts this obvious falsehood without argument.This is called projection. I'll ask again here, what evidence do you have for your claim that a god exists, for example? What evidence are you forcing me to bear? As of yet, I haven't seen any, and as of this point in the article, you've not provided any.
But a fallacy of conflation is to run two things together so as to confuse an argument by ambiguity. What have I conflated with what? Josh doesn’t say.You're making the claim that a logical fallacy is a claim. A logical fallacy is not a premise, nor a conclusion. They instead describe the reasons why premises and conclusions fail. They are not claims on their own, necessarily. A logical fallacy is not innately a claim. An argument is not innately a claim. Again, however, this is a moot point, because you haven't show me what evidence you actually want me to bear. If you're presenting no evidence, you have nothing for me to make a claim for nor against. Literally, I have no burden of proof because you haven't given me any proof to bear. That's not a claim, but even if it were, you could show it to be incorrect by providing the evidence you want me to bear.
So now we come to Josh’s assertion, again without argument, that the “null hypothesis” is that there is no god.Right. If you have no evidence of something, the null hypothesis is generally that it doesn't exist.
First, it should be noted that Josh does not understand what the null hypothesis is. It is technical term in statistics that he is misusing. See here to learn what the null hypothesis actually means.Well, you didn't actually provide a link at the time of this writing, so I'll fix that for you. We use the null hypothesis to determine what the logical state of things is. If we have two sets of data, and neither of them presents evidence for a god, then the null hypothesis is that a god is not represented therein. If you present a third set of data that demonstrates a god might exist, then we'd have an alternate hypothesis. Until such a time, however, every null points to things other than a god.
Again, you're free to present evidence for the alternate hypothesis, but you've not done so. You have no empirical (read:statistical) evidence that your claim is true, therefore we revert to the null. A god is not represented statistically anywhere.
But more importantly, we are again faced with simple assertion, rather than argument or evidence.That's correct. I can't argue what evidence you aren't putting forward, and I don't have any evidence for your god that I can put forth. If I had some evidence of your claim to work with, then I'd have to present it. However, I don't have any, because I'm not claiming that a god exists, you are.
What evidence would you like me to present to prove that Thor or Zeus don't exist, after all? Will the fact that thunder and lightning are natural phenomena suffice? What about YHWH? Will the fact that there are no floodgates of heaven suffice? Or are you hiding the pictures of the floodgates of heaven opening every time it rains? I don't have those pictures, so I can't defend them. They don't seem to exist when it rains here, though, therefore your god probably didn't make them.
Now, if you can show me the pillars of creation your god shakes when there are earthquakes, then I might believe your claim. Of course, you would have to prove it wasn't some other god shaking those pillars, but we'll get to that later, I'm sure.
Josh just takes it for granted that atheism should be the default position, apparently blissfully unaware that this argument dates back only to around 1970...Now that's a laughable claim. Atheists and unbelievers are mentioned in the bible. The same bible she's presumably using to show that her god exists. Jainists, Buddhists, and Hindu for example. Then you've also got the larger deistic movements which also don't recognize anything like a god.
Here is an article by Professor Ralph McInerny with the straight to the point title “Why the Burden of Proof is on the Atheist.”Here's an interesting line from that article:
Believers have recently gotten a little weary of being assigned research projects or intellectual tasks by the skeptic and have devised a number of versions of the tu quoque to stop the demands.Maybe I'll tear it apart later, but here's one point that's very much related here.
Believers have recently gotten a little weary of being assigned research projects or intellectual tasks by the skeptic and have devised a number of versions of the tu quoque to stop the demands. No one is more adroit at this than my colleague Alvin Plantinga and I shall not attempt to steal his fire. (The phrase has nice theistic overtones but perhaps assigns Al a place more exalted than he himself would claim.) I simply refer to the structure of God and Other Minds. This book argues that it is no less reasonable to believe in God than to believe in the existence of other minds. But critics of theism cannot get along without belief in other minds, therefore they have no consistent way of objecting to theism.Again, we present with a false analogy. Regardless of whether other minds exist, I can interact with them directly, as I'm doing here. I can't do this with a god. The god lacks the evidence that the 'minds' present. Since 'minds' isn't defined rigidly, I can simply say that a mind is a brain, and I've seen brains before. I can then surmise that brains do exist, having evidence for them.
However, no one has ever presented this kind of evidence for a god, in any respect.
Anyway, back to the task at hand.
Nor is it only theists who think this.Good for them. Argument from authority fallacy. I don't care who says it, it's a bad argument, unless you can show why it isn't. Hint: you haven't yet.
While I wouldn’t necessarily expect Josh to be aware of developments in the philosophy of religion, it is a bit presumptuous of him to simply be channeling arguments Flew made in 1976 as if they were (pardon the expression) THE WORD OF GOD.False again. Have I even quoted Flew here? I'm not really familiar with him at all. I've come up with most of my conclusions independent of who says them. If we happen to agree on these points, it's basically coincidence. The authority of the person saying the thing is irrelevant. It's whether or not what they're saying is defensible and correct that matters.
The fact of the matter is, the entire question of where the burden of proof lies in the theism/atheism debate (or whether it lies anywhere, presumptively, or whether such a concept is even useful) is a seriously contested philosophical issue.No. You would need evidence of your claim for that to be the case. If it were seriously contested, there would be evidence on both sides. This happens from time to time. Just disagreeing with someone isn't contesting them. It's just disagreeing. If you disagree, but have no evidence, then your point has no merit.
What that means is that neither Josh nor anyone else may simply lay it down as if it were fact that “atheism is the default position” or “the burden of proof lies on the theist.”Sure I can. Do you have evidence to the contrary, that your god is any more likely than any other god? Do you have the same evidence to disprove them as you're requiring of me? If not, do you accept the default position you've created that the default position is that any given assertion is true, regardless of the evidence? I think you don't. Correct me if I'm wrong, but your default position doesn't include that Loki is real, correct? However, I presume you are content with the null position being that he doesn't.
There is good reason for thinking both of these are false.No, there's not. You just told me your default position is that every claim is always true until you can provide evidence that it's not. You clearly don't believe that.
Indeed, I hold that both of them are false, that the reverse is the case, that theism is the default position,So literally, a belief in every single god that you cannot prove doesn't exist. Because that's what you are describing in the next portion of that sentence:
and that to whatever extent such a concept is useful, the atheist needs to show, if he is to dent the rational presumption in favor of theism to any degree, that it is at least highly probably that God does not exist.Again, you're saying that if you don't believe in Thor (or the myriad other gods that aren't YHWH), that you have to prove that Thor doesn't exist, otherwise the default position is that Thor (as well as every other god) does exist.
I won’t argue these points extensively in this post,You already did.
but the reader should be aware that they exist and they are very strong.No, they aren't. Unless you're holding out on the evidence. You could've replaced this entire article with a link to the evidence for your claim, but you did not do this.
Popular culture lags behind professional philosophy, but it inevitably catches up... Enjoy your atheistic safe space; you won’t get to keep it for very long.It's not much of a safe space, is it? I don't want a safe space. Also, it matters not what popular culture decides. If pop culture makes claims, we can evaluate them. Pop culture is free to be wrong, just like you, or anyone. You also have the right of others to correct you, if you're wrong in a public forum.
Finally, as I am sure most of my readers already noticed, Josh is making the typical atheistic confusion of God with gods, a catastrophic category error.No, it's not. You're saying the default position is theism. Every person who ever believed in any god was theist. Again, you can't separate here. Either you believe in other gods, or you don't. You're as atheistic as me when it comes to every god you don't believe in. You're the one being internally inconsistent.
Why do you presume that I should have a higher burden of proof to show that Thor doesn't exist than you should? Simply saying that your god is real doesn't mean the other gods aren't also real, in this specific case. If theism is the default position, then it applies to every single god, including the ones you presumably don't believe in them. Why don't you believe in every god, if theism is in fact the default position? Is it because theism isn't actually the default position?
This is called Special Pleading.
Even though Josh has yet to make an argument, he now claims that he has proven something about the burden of proof. He also proves that he does not understand the nature of probability:I'm sorry. You're the one who stopped talking about it in favor of the other points you're trying to make. Responding to a different point than the one you're responding to is very disingenuous. Also, you just told me way up there that statistics wasn't important here.
However, it doesn't matter how probable you think your god is. You have to have evidence to support your claim. The probability of a thing you can't show evidence for is literally unable to have a probability, because it's never been observed. Observing it zero times makes it's probability 0 in a million. That's zero, in case you missed it.
The claim that “all gods are equally probable, including the absence of a god” is manifestly absurd.Then quit telling people that thing from up above, that goes like this:
Indeed, I hold that both of them are false, that the reverse is the case, that theism is the default position,Those are contradictory positions. Either theism is the default, or it isn't. Either belief in any given god is the default, or it isn't. You aren't saying "belief in my god is the default." I think you actually know how dishonest that is. Instead, you're saying simply that (believing in any given god) is the default. That means, literally, if there's a claim that a god exists, you believe it. Because you're 100% theist, and it's the default position to believe in a god for which you have no evidence.
How would one possibly make a case for this?I just did. Again. But here, from my original article, that she conveniently ignores right here:
Christians like to claim a global flood, but stratified rock is a clear example of evidence against that god. Greco-Roman Pantheists will claim that from Chaos (the deity) appeared Gaea (the literal, living god who is earth), but the fact that the Earth doesn't appear to be a god is evidence against this.Moving on.
Well, of course we needn’t ask what case Josh makes. As we’ve seen, Josh doesn’t make cases.No, I make them, you just ignore them and pretend I don't. This is why I muted you on Twitter.
Actually, here he touches on something like a case, but seems to think that pointing out that modern geology mitigates against the literal truth of a Biblical account in the way a heretical 20th century American fundamentalist Protestant might possibly read the Bible is some kind of strong evidence against Christianity.It's not a fundamentalist reading. It's just a straight reading of the words. Either that god did those things, or it didn't. It isn't my fault if you don't like it.
Also, you just said...
Josh doesn’t make cases.But then you presented the case I made. Hypocritical much?
Hint: it isn’t.Considering the bible is literally the only thing you've presented so far, telling me that you think it's wrong really doesn't help your case.
I’m also a little dubious about his “X does not appear to be god [to whom?]; therefore, X is not a god” argument.Well, if you think it looks like a god, go ahead and show us already. I'm allowed to be dubious about claims you won't back up with evidence. I'm dubious of your claims in exactly the same way you'd be dubious of someone claiming that a literal girl named Alice fell through a mirror and had a tea party with an anthropomorphic bunny before killing a queen made out of playing cards.
Even at the level of gods (not God), gods are known for disguising themselves as such, are they not? Perhaps he is unaware of the Gaia hypothesis? At any rate, I’ve no interest in gods, so let’s move on.Well, that's contradictory to your own claim here:
Indeed, I hold that both of them are false, that the reverse is the case, that theism is the default position,So theism is the default position, but theism isn't the default position. I honestly don't understand what you're trying to angle at here. Your own claim about the null position is contradictory, because even you agree that you don't believe in the other gods, same as me. If it's not the null position, why are you so readily accepting it? Is believing in a god (theism) the default position or not? Remember, most theists are also atheists. It's hard to be a Christian if you also believe in Loki, after all.
Well, let’s discuss the default position a bit, shall we?No. I've done it plenty already. If you can't figure it out by now, you're not going to.
I am suggesting that human beings have a natural cognitive capacity to grasp the truth of divinity,Suggested. Got any evidence, especially the one that shows Odin isn't divine?
although this capacity can become darkened, distorted, stunted, and perhaps even extinguished in some individuals.
I am speaking of the sensus divinitatis, the natural cognitive power where human beings are able to experience the presence of the divine.Does it exist? I can make stuff up too, that doesn't make it real. Again, , otherwise your magical soul stuff is no different from reiki or chi.
Now, while I have no doubt that Josh will be inclined to deny human beings have such a cognitive power, which when functioning properly in the proper environment, is truth directed and therefore belief-warranting, but what exactly would his case be?So when my Chakras are aligned, I can manipulate the divine energy of the universe. Great. You've just made the case for why you believe in a particular form of Buddhism, actually, and one that doesn't require a god.
Can you show me in the bible where people manipulate, without the assistance of god, the 'divine energies' of the universe? Or are you believing something entirely different from what you claim to believe?
If he has no experience of this sense of the divine, he doesn’t have much or any basis to talk about it...Right back at you. If you've never been able to demonstrate it's actually a thing, you have no basis to talk about it.
...and his assertion of its nonexistence is no more evidence of its nonexistence than (some other stuff).Correct! A lack of evidence is not evidence, See, you do understand, you're just being purposefully dishonest. You're free to present evidence at any time.
He would be in the position of a man who asserted that sense perception does not provide belief-warrant.It doesn't. If you can provide evidence for your belief, that's the only thing that warrants as evidence. You saying it's real, and me saying it's not, are not evidence. That's why we need actual evidence. If you don't have any, then your assertion falls squarely there too. That's special pleading to say otherwise.
It would, at the very least, take a great deal of careful philosophical argumentation to make such a claim even plausible. And as we know, Josh is not big on actual argumentation.Ignoring what I say doesn't mean I'm not doing it. it just means you're being intellectually dishonest to such an extent that you don't mind actually lying about other people just to make yourself look more credible.
The existence of God is plain to me by at least there paths: metaphysical demonstrations, the sensus divinitatis, and (twice in my life) direct deliverances of God.Good. Then it means you have evidence you can share with us, that's not merely anecdote. If god gave you something, show us. If you have this sense, use it in a demonstrable fashion. If you can honestly show us new principles of the metaphysical universe that are consistent with observation, go for it. No one is stopping you, and I'm not sure why you haven't claimed your Nobel prize yet, or figured out the hailstone problem and got a Fields medal, or something.
I hold my belief in God to be entirely warranted.So do the people who believe in Allah, Satan, Thor, Baal, and every other god. You haven't actually show that to be true. You are, however, allowed to believe in unwarranted things, and even believe you're correct. That doesn't make it so.
I have thought the matter through very carefully, considered all arguments pro and con, and all available evidence, and come to the conclusion that theism is not only a reasonable position, but the only possible position that accords with reason.Except you haven't, because you keep ignoring my points, or flat out lying and saying I didn't make them. You didn't even link my original blog post in your blog post response, nor even post a comment on my blog to let people know you've responded to me. You aren't acting like someone who actually cares about open discussion. You're acting like someone who has already decided they are right regardless of anything else.
Atheism, as I have written elsewhere, is a deeply irrational position that logically commits one to absurdismand nihilism, since it denies both the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and any objective standard of good and evil.Maybe good and evil aren't objective. According to your bible, women aren't supposed to be leading instruction of this sort, because a woman's place is to be quiet and subservient. If you think that's objectively good, why are you writing? Probably because you don't agree with that objectively. Same here.
It what way, pray tell, have I violated any epistemological or ethical rule or principle?
See also: my entire response so far.
You say you aren’t refusing, and yet still no argument as been made, merely assertion. You refuse by deeds. You won’t do it. That is refusing.No. As I pointed out earlier, you're simply ignoring what I'm saying, or lying (as you did earlier) and saying that people haven't said these things to you (myself included, apparently).
I’m not trying to prove anyone has a burden. That is your assertion.So why even have this discussion? If you don't disagree, why are you disagreeing?
You posted this meme, so I take you endorse it: “The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim.”That's correct. You also feel the same, otherwise you wouldn't call atheism a claim.
So well-spotted, I guess, for noticing I haven’t proven something I wasn’t trying to prove.So you're not trying to prove this:
First, Josh makes the bizarre claim that a claim about where the burden of proof lies … is not a claim.
...either he abide by his own principle and prove his claim that I have the burden of proof; or he admit that his principle is only for me and not for him...Sounds a lot like you're telling me exactly the opposite, doesn't it?
Tu quoque.That's not it at all, but I'm growing tired of this. I'm sure you'll take this out of context anyway. It's what you're doing best.
Yes, really. Your post here is a case in point. You have repeated several times that the burden of proof is on the theist, but you haven’t argued it. Assertion isn’t argument, not even repeated assertion.No, I've only done a few things, and you've ignored the stuff that I was trying to say. You then used that to make it look as though I was doing that.
Lying doesn't make you right. It just makes you a liar. According to Mosiac law (what you seem to imply is the objective standard of morality), I have the right to despise and scorn you for it. Which is what I'm doing, after all. You should be in complete agreement! However, you aren't, for some reason. Isn't morality objective? I didn't think so.
I was attacked for committing a straw man fallacy, and my response was the perfectly correct argument that, since I was not making an argument, and a fallacy is an error in argument, I could not have committed a fallacy.I'm not attacking you, I'm engaging in discourse like a reasonable person, same as you. This is not an attack, it's a logical peer response. Just because you don't like it, isn't my fault. If you don't want people to take apart what you say in public, quit saying things in public. We have the freedom of speech too, you know.
I think here is where we see Josh’s true colors most clearly. This is practically the Platonic ideal of an argument to ignorance. “I am right, unless you can prove I am wrong.”No, that's your stance. Leaving out the actual stuff I said doesn't mean I didn't say it. It just means you're too intellectually dishonest to deal with the words I'm saying in any meaningful way.
From here, there really isn’t much left to say.Well, of course not. It's inconvenient when people do things like
cite the dictionarySo we can rest assured, I won't let little details like rigidly defining my terms get in your way anymore.
Theism is the default position. If an atheist wishes to refute theism, his task is to prove that theism is false.If you don't believe in Thor, it's your task to prove he's false? You said earlier that was a preposterous notion, but here you're saying it plainly in defense of the notion.
Is it your task to do that or not?
Nor can he escape this burden by attempting to claim that theism is de jure unwarranted,So you can't escape this by saying that believing in Thor is de jure unwarranted.
But you just told me it's unwarranted. You're so close to getting it.
while refusing to address the question of the de factotruth or falsehood of theism.So you also have to address the question of the de facto truth or falsehood of believing in Thor.
You honestly can't see why this doesn't work, can you?
Χριστὸς ἀνέστη, Josh.It's a bit late for Easter, don't you think?