Who has the burden of proof when discussing the existence of God?

                When I’m browsing around online, I always see a meme or two in my facebook feed that say that the burden of proof is on the theist to prove the existence of God and that atheism is the default position that we have from birth. Now are both of these tenants true? What I would like to do here is to posit that the burden of proof is in fact on both the theist and the atheist, because we both make positive statements on the existence or lack of existence of a God or gods.
                So first off, what is a definition of the burden of proof? A quick search yields the definition of “the obligation to prove one’s assertion”. So does the theist have a burden of proof by asserting God exists? Definitely. Does the atheist have a burden of proof by asserting that God or gods do not exist? Absolutely! Both the atheist and the theist is making a positive claim on the existence or non-existence of God. If we were to claim a true neutral position in this spectrum, I would say that would be the agnostic, because that position claims that the existence or non-existence of God is unknowable, rendering the conversation moot. But then again, there is the claim that there is no answer to this question, so one could say that the agnostic also has a burden of proof.
                So when it comes to this quick question, any sort of claim about God and his existence has a burden of proof in one way or another. If you are wondering about this answer, allow me to take a pragmatic view for a minute an introduce Pascal’s wager. This wager introduces both sides of the argument. God either exists or he does not. If he does exist and you believe in him, you will be in heaven when you die. If he does exist and you don’t believe in him, you will be in hell when you die. In both belief and non belief and God does not exist, you won’t know either way because death in the end. So by Pascal’s wager it is in one’s best interest to believe in God.

Now I did not introduce Pascal’s wager to dismiss the burden of proof out of hand, but rather to enhance it. I am trying to say we need to be serious when it comes to providing our proof for God. Because we are called to go forth and make disciples of men, we have to take this duty seriously and teach as Christ taught, so that men may be saved from their wicked ways. May God bless you and have a good rest of your day. 

Comments

  1. It's hard for me to think that a weak atheist, one who does not necessarily 'assert' that there absolutely is no god or gods, but simply doesn't believe in any established theism, would have any burden of truth. This to me would mean that I would then have a burden of proof for every belief system I don't believe in.

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    2. This is where it can get murky, because I think we can get into a semantics argument. I would argue an atheist, weak or strong, by definition is asserting there is no God or gods, because that is the textbook definition of an atheist. Your definition to me is more akin to an agnostic.
      As far as a burden of proof for every belief system you don't believe in, I don't think you do. You just have to provide the best possible evidence for your belief. I do believe in maintaining a flexible position so as to not become a crazy fundamentalist, but I doubt I will be changing from my belief in Christ.

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