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Michael Egnor: Theists vs. atheists: Which group has the burden of proof?

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Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Because atheist broadcaster Dillahunty refuses to debate me again, I’ll address his claim that atheists have no burden of proof in the debate over God’s existence in this post:

In order to elide the obvious conclusion that they don’t have any good arguments, atheists claim that, in a debate, the burden of proof is always on the “yes” side, not the “no” side. Their argument is that it is difficult to prove a negative. But that is irrelevant to the question of God’s existence because both theists and atheists make positive assertions. The fundamental question is, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Theists say God is the ground of existence and atheists say Nature is the ground of existence. A negative claim by atheists — “We have no idea why there is something rather than nothing” — is a proclamation of ignorance, not an immunity idol. That is, it confers no “tribal immunity” from responsibility to provide evidence and reason in support of the view that the universe exists without God. ‘I’m ignorant’ is no substitute for a reasoned argument supported by evidence.

Michael Egnor, “Theists vs. atheists: Which has the burden of proof?” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Both atheists and theists make positive statements about the nature of the universe. If atheists shun the ensuing burden of proof, it should count against them.

Note: Here’s the debate:

You may also wish to read:
Science can and does point to God’s existence. Michael Egnor: Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature. If we are to understand natural effects, we must be open to all kinds of causes, including causes that transcend nature.
The Divine Hiddenness argument against God’s existence = nonsense. God in Himself is immeasurably greater than we are, and He transcends all human knowledge. A God with whom we do not struggle — who is not in some substantial and painful way hidden to us — is not God but is a mere figment of our imagination.
and
Atheist Claims about logical fallacies often just mean: Shut Up! In the recent debate, Matt Dillahunty accuses theists of “the fallacy of the argument from personal incredulity” because we examine his claims and find them incredible. What atheists fear most is having to explain themselves, and the invocation of fictitious “fallacies” is one of their favorite ways to evade scrutiny.

10 Replies to “Michael Egnor: Theists vs. atheists: Which group has the burden of proof?

  1. 1
    BobRyan says:

    The burden of proof lies with the Darwinists. Evolution has never been witnessed and has not been replicated. Without both of those, evolution remains purely hypothetical.

    Darwinists cannot produce a coherent argument for the spark of life that first began on Earth. Something cannot come from nothing, which includes getting life from something lifeless.

    Darwinists cannot explain the existence of a single law of physics. You cannot get order from chaos, yet the laws are the order of governing the universe.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    The burden of proof is held to rest with whoever asserts a claim if they want to persuade an audience that the claim has merit. If an atheist claims there is categorically no God then s/he is bound to
    provide arguments and evidence to support that claim. The same applies to a Christian who claims their God does exist.

    An atheist who says s/he does not believe in a God because Christians have not made a compelling case for such a belief is not stating a claim so does not bear any burden of proof.. S/he may be lying or would reject the Christian’s case whatever the support offered but that does not relieve the Christian of the burden of proof for the claim that their God exists.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    The burden of proof is held to rest with whoever asserts a claim if they want to persuade an audience that the claim has merit. If an atheist claims there is categorically no God then s/he is bound to
    provide arguments and evidence to support that claim. The same applies to a Christian who claims their God does exist.

    This is a nonsense statement. You cannot possibly believe it so why make it.

    First, no one has ever provided a coherent reason for why the universe exists other than it had a creator.

    Second, why should atheism rise or fall with what a particular religion such as Christianity says? This is nonsense. A creator per se has nothing specifically tied to what a particular religion claims.

    Third, the most nonsense part of the above statement is that the Christians have done a remarkable job of pointing to the likelihood of a creator.

    You should make any claims about atheism without referring to Christianity. But you don’t. Why not?

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    BobRyan/1

    Darwinists cannot produce a coherent argument for the spark of life that first began on Earth. Something cannot come from nothing, which includes getting life from something lifeless.

    The theory of evolution is not about the origins of life itself so it is not a valid criticism of the theory to point out that it fails to do that.

    It’s true to say that there is no working hypothesis to explain how life might have arisen from non-living precursors but there is ongoing research into abiogenesis and the possibility cannot be ruled out.

    Darwinists cannot explain the existence of a single law of physics. You cannot get order from chaos, yet the laws are the order of governing the universe.

    The theory of evolution is not about the origins of physical laws either so, again, it is not a valid criticism of the theory to point out that it fails to do that.

    The origins of the laws of physics is still a profound mystery. Nobody has a good explanation for them.

  5. 5
    jerry says:

    The theory of evolution is not about the origins of life itself

    The theory of evolution is not about the origins of physical laws

    True, but you never provide an explanation for changes in life forms over the eons. And that is what Evolution is about.

    You are ready to pounce on a mistake but not provide an answer to the real question at hand.

  6. 6

    What Egnor does is to throw the whole idea of subjectivity out the window, throw out emotions, throw out love, same as atheists throw all what is subjective out.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    seversky:

    The theory of evolution is not about the origins of life itself so it is not a valid criticism of the theory to point out that it fails to do that.

    There isn’t any scientific theory of evolution. And how life originated dictates how it subsequently evolved. That evos are too dishonest and too stupid to grasp those facts says it all, really.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    seversky:

    The burden of proof is held to rest with whoever asserts a claim if they want to persuade an audience that the claim has merit.

    And no one can do so with respect to the diversity of life. And yet evolutionism is being taught as science. How pathetic is that?

  9. 9
    Fasteddious says:

    Atheists sometimes say that extreme claims require extreme evidence, and use that as a cudgel to beat on theists, especially re: miracles and supernatural events or causes. But just who is making the extreme claim?
    – the theists who have thousands of years of belief by the majority of humans, or
    – the atheists who are relatively few, sprinkled through time, and no real evidence
    One person’s extreme claim is another person’s accepted reality.

  10. 10
    Hanks says:

    The theory of evolution is not about

    Well it’s about a unicellular that become a man over time 🙂 . Why don’t you prove in front of us how a bacterium become a [insert here whatever animal you want which is NOT bacterium]. I wait.

    the burden of proof for the claim that their God exists.

    🙂 You are doing it wrong.

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