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Prove that god doesn't exist. (Proving a negative)

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The burden of proof falls on the people who claim something exists that can't be seen.
Literally, no, since vision is important but not that important. "Smelled" or "heard" would be adequate substitutes. In other words, "observed", not "seen". But then there are no things that exist which cannot be observed. The correct characterization of the burden of proof is that it lies on anyone who claims that a thing exists, without providing a basis in observation for the claim. So you might say "The burden of proof lies on the people who claim something exists, which is not observed". Or, more generally, "Proof" presupposes "evidence", and "evidence" reduces to that which is perceived / observed.
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Literally, no, since vision is important but not that important. "Smelled" or "heard" would be adequate substitutes. In other words, "observed", not "seen". But then there are no things that exist which cannot be observed. The correct characterization of the burden of proof is that it lies on anyone who claims that a thing exists, without providing a basis in observation for the claim. So you might say "The burden of proof lies on the people who claim something exists, which is not observed". Or, more generally, "Proof" presupposes "evidence", and "evidence" reduces to that which is perceived / observed.

You are correct, sir, "observed" is the proper word

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The concept God is based on man's awareness of, and belief in, causality:

God is that which causes those existents in nature whose causes can not be fully explained by observations/science.

The evidence for God is the vast number of existents whose causes can not be explained by science.

The refutation of God is based on a faith that all things can ultimately be explained by science, and that the failure to do so in any given case is a limit of the observing instrument, or the current state of man's knowledge of science, not of science itself.

The evidence in support of this faith is the number of existents previously unexplained, which are now sufficiently explained by science. This evidence feeds the belief that science is moving inexorably towards a grand theory which will explain [the causes of] everything.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Hello again everyone. I have a question about a question I've been running into a lot recently. Like the Topic title indicates. "Well, how can you prove that God doesn't exist?"

I have a lot of discussions with people, on other forums, friends, family, and acquaintances(for fun/practice). In the subjects I feel familiar enough to actually get into a debate with another person, things usually dissolve when I get hit with that question... I am unsure how to respond correctly. I tried the "burden of proof" line and got it retorted back to me. I essentially got lost in the question.

The best thing I came up with is stating "I can't disprove anything, because you haven't given me any arguments for me to refute." And that generally ends the discussion. I'd go deeper into the fallacy of negative proof, but I find it derails the current topic. And I find it hard to articulate my thoughts when things I see as rudimentary (Like some fallacies) and explain them in detail...

Any other ways of thinking, or answers to that dreaded(stupid?) question? For some reason that I can't put my finger on, I don't feel that response is 'rock solid' enough. Maybe I'm getting tricked by the fallacy itself, I may not even require a more in-depth answer.

Anyone have any pointers for me?

In actuality, this question has no meaning. As is evident from the posts below it, there are countless ways in which people define "god". How is it possible to prove something doesn't exist when there are 100 ideas and concepts of the same word? If you picked a specific one there are logical arguments against most ideas. A better question is: would a limitless all powerful god create an imperfect existence for creatures he loved?

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Trying to "Prove X exists" is a logical fallacy. Something either exists or it does not. We don't run an experiment or make some observations to make something exist. If I have a theory (God exists) the first thing I do is define the words in my claim so that everyone knows precisely what I'm talking about. Anyone who claims "X does/doesn't exist" will have to define exist unambiguously (and also probably define X). Once I define the words in my claim it is either true or it is not. The conclusions follow logically from the premises. Anyone else can choose to accept or reject my claim. As long as my claim is internally consistent it is valid. If my claim is not internally consistent we usually term it "religion" or "supernatural". If it's internally inconsistent but we have respect for the proponent (i.e. we think s/he made an honest mistake) we simply say it is invalid and pat him/her on the back, and offer to help.

I would tend to disagree. A friend of mine always suspected his father had another child. He would love to prove that she either did or did not exist. The fact that he is unaware of her existence is not indicative of whether she actually does or does not. And certainly not indicative of whether her can actually prove she does or does not exist. A suspicion or a clue is not the same thing as a theory.

On your second point - I would agree. Proving god requires a specific definition of what god is and is not. Otherwise it's a circular saw attempt.

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How is it possible to prove something doesn't exist when there are 100 ideas and concepts of the same word? If you picked a specific one there are logical arguments against most ideas.
In truth there are not 100 ideas about God. Almost everyone uses the term to mean the same thing, even if the details are a bit different. The same for a concept like "ghosts". People all over the world endow this fiction with different characteristics, but there are some common elements: was once alive, ethereal semi-existence, and so on. So, with God, there is a general agreement that this refers to some super-powerful force, whether given personal form or otherwise, who/which is enduring beyond all human time-frames, and is powerful beyond all human power, and is the causal agent behind creation (whether he gets is going and gets out of the way, as the deists think, whether it is like a primary energy as in some non-personal Gods, or whether he is a nagging God who needs prayers and offerings, etc.)

A better question is: would a limitless all powerful god create an imperfect existence for creatures he loved?
I don't see why that is a better question. The real question is: do we have evidence to think that God exists (see description above). Asking about whether such an entity would create our world may be a subsidiary part of trying to refute the fiction.

A friend of mine always suspected his father had another child.
On has to stop here. Since most people do not suspect their parents of having undeclared kids, I imagine that your friend had some reason to suspect this. If he had good reason to think so, even if he was not certain, then his suspicion is evidence-based, and therefore not arbitrary. Edited by softwareNerd
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On has to stop here. Since most people do not suspect their parents of having undeclared kids, I imagine that your friend had some reason to suspect this. If he had good reason to think so, even if he was not certain, then his suspicion is evidence-based, and therefore not arbitrary.

There are many people who base their belief in god on intelligent design. They too therefore under your thinking would have a "reason" to believe in a god.

Edited by softwareNerd
Fixed missing quote tag
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There are many people who base their belief in god on intelligent design. They too therefore under your thinking would have a "reason" to believe in a god.
Sure. Intelligent design is a variation of "some consciousness must be behind this". Historically, this is how primitive people assumed the presence of a God. When a primitive person reaches such a conclusion, it is plausible, in the context of their extremely limited knowledge about the world, and about thinking/logic itself.

OTOH, a 13-year old living any time during the last 200 years could have easily understood the infinite regress problem and dismissed the notion of a "necessary super-consciousness" as arbitrary.

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