Possible to prove?


#1

This is a topic that came up in another thread. Since it wasn’t exactly addressing what the original thread was about, I thought I’d bring it up here.

The question: is it possible to prove atheism as it would be possible to prove theism?

The argument raised in the other thread was that, no, it is not possible to prove atheism because atheism is a negative…a negation of theism. Thus, the argument went, atheism is irrational and impossible to prove.

In my mind, this seems wrong headed. First, while it is true to say that atheism is a negative, it is only linguistically. It is the linguistic negative of the word theism. Fine. But that doesn’t mean the reality behind the word is a negative. If God does not exist, that simply means that there is in reality no God, which is a positive state of being.

Thus it seems possible to argue rationally that there is no God. But I will leave the argument itself up to the atheists.

I bring this up because I think it is a week argument for the theist to say that one can’t prove atheism b/c one can’t prove a negative, and then let the argument drop at that.

Thoughts?


#2

[quote=FelixBlue]This is a topic that came up in another thread. Since it wasn’t exactly addressing what the original thread was about, I thought I’d bring it up here.

The question: is it possible to prove atheism as it would be possible to prove theism?

The argument raised in the other thread was that, no, it is not possible to prove atheism because atheism is a negative…a negation of theism. Thus, the argument went, atheism is irrational and impossible to prove.

In my mind, this seems wrong headed. First, while it is true to say that atheism is a negative, it is only linguistically. It is the linguistic negative of the word theism. Fine. But that doesn’t mean the reality behind the word is a negative. If God does not exist, that simply means that there is in reality no God, which is a positive state of being.

Thus it seems possible to argue rationally that there is no God. But I will leave the argument itself up to the atheists.

I bring this up because I think it is a week argument for the theist to say that one can’t prove atheism b/c one can’t prove a negative, and then let the argument drop at that.

Thoughts?
[/quote]

I don’t know, I think your poster could be right.

How do your prove anything “doesn’t” exist?

Doesn’t seem possible.

Unless you have the capability to look every where in this universe and everywhere in any altenate universe that we, of course can’t get to, then how can you “prove” something isn’t there?

Seems like it would be easier to “prove” God is there than to “prove” that he is not.

At least you can point at things that require a Cause and call that Cause God.

I’m sure there’s a Philosophy major out there that’ll “prove” me wrong.

Chuck


#3

Bertrand Russel, a renoun Philosopher during the 1930s through the late 1940s as a Professor of Philosophy at a major Eastern University ( can’t remember which) was am Atheist. He was deported back to his country of origin, England. He lead a Peace Protest against US nuclear submarines based in the UK. As far as I know he died an Atheist.

If some of you search Russel’s work you may find his answer for why there is no God.


#4

[quote=clmowry]I don’t know, I think your poster could be right.

How do your prove anything “doesn’t” exist?

Doesn’t seem possible.

Unless you have the capability to look every where in this universe and everywhere in any altenate universe that we, of course can’t get to, then how can you “prove” something isn’t there?

Seems like it would be easier to “prove” God is there than to “prove” that he is not.

At least you can point at things that require a Cause and call that Cause God.

I’m sure there’s a Philosophy major out there that’ll “prove” me wrong.

Chuck
[/quote]

I agree that it would be easier to prove God, etc. I am a theist. But that is not the point. I’m not even arguing that one can come up with a plausible argument in favor of atheism.

I am simply disagreeing with the argument that “one cannot prove atheism b/c it is a negative.”

I guess my real contention is that atheism is not a negative. Again, it appears negative in relation to theism (which it is necessarily related to). But this is merely a linguistic/etymological negative. The “reality” that corresponds to the word atheism (if there be such a reality) is not a negative but a positive…a positive state of reality.

Otherwise, one would run into the “pink unicorn” dilema. I say there are pink unicorns. You, an a-pinkunicornist, think there are not. Aha! I say. You are trying to prove a negative…But what a weak argument.


#5

[quote=FelixBlue]This is a topic that came up in another thread. Since it wasn’t exactly addressing what the original thread was about, I thought I’d bring it up here.

The question: is it possible to prove atheism as it would be possible to prove theism?

The argument raised in the other thread was that, no, it is not possible to prove atheism because atheism is a negative…a negation of theism. Thus, the argument went, atheism is irrational and impossible to prove.

In my mind, this seems wrong headed. First, while it is true to say that atheism is a negative, it is only linguistically. It is the linguistic negative of the word theism. Fine. But that doesn’t mean the reality behind the word is a negative. If God does not exist, that simply means that there is in reality no God, which is a positive state of being.

Thus it seems possible to argue rationally that there is no God. But I will leave the argument itself up to the atheists.

I bring this up because I think it is a week argument for the theist to say that one can’t prove atheism b/c one can’t prove a negative, and then let the argument drop at that.

[font=Arial]Thoughts?
[/quote]

[/font]

You do have a point. To simply assert that atheism is a negative and hence is irrational and unprovable, now appears to me to be a gross oversimplification, and an amateurish application of logic, and thus would not really satisfy either atheists or even philosophical theists who sincerely seek a more rational way to prove His existence.

Now, let me make it clear that what I’m saying here has **nothing to do **with the actual truth of falsehood of either theism or atheism, since what we are criticizing here is the weakness of this form of argumentation, a subtle and specious confusion of linguistic contradiction with logical contradiction.

St. Thomas, I believe, had criticized St. Anselm’s ontological argument, not because Thomas was an atheist, but rather, because of flaws he saw in Anselm’s reasoning for proving God.

If atheism is unprovable, it must be because of reasons intrinsic or inherent to it, other than by simply saying that it is a negative.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#6

[quote=clmowry]I don’t know, I think your poster could be right.

How do your prove anything “doesn’t” exist?

Doesn’t seem possible.

Unless you have the capability to look every where in this universe and everywhere in any altenate universe that we, of course can’t get to, then how can you “prove” something isn’t there?

Seems like it would be easier to “prove” God is there than to “prove” that he is not.

At least you can point at things that require a Cause and call that Cause God.

I’m sure there’s a Philosophy major out there that’ll “prove” me wrong.

Chuck
[/quote]

The question is not “Does God Exist?” but rather, is it valid to argue that atheism is irrational simply because A-theism is a **linguistic **negative of Theism? I am Theist, but I do not accept any “argument” just because it purports to support my position on this matter. Besides, the question of proving anything doesn’t exist may not necessarily be the same as proving God doesn’t exist.

It is this particular argument’s validity that is in question, and not the other arguments.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#7

Atheism should be easy to prove

Since there are no physical measurements for God, the soul or the supernatural
And since we can’t do any double blind studies on the afterlife

There are many rigorous models of the world that fit the observable data and which don’t include God

Now Belief…which requires a leap of fauth is almost by definition unprovable

I mean if you could prove there was a God then what would be the whole point?

He would be reduced to the equivalent of a geometry proof or a chemical equation.

It seems to me that our search for meaning is the heart of being human


#8

[quote=FelixBlue]This is a topic that came up in another thread. Since it wasn’t exactly addressing what the original thread was about, I thought I’d bring it up here.

The question: is it possible to prove atheism as it would be possible to prove theism?

The argument raised in the other thread was that, no, it is not possible to prove atheism because atheism is a negative…a negation of theism. Thus, the argument went, atheism is irrational and impossible to prove.

In my mind, this seems wrong headed. First, while it is true to say that atheism is a negative, it is only linguistically. It is the linguistic negative of the word theism. Fine. But that doesn’t mean the reality behind the word is a negative. If God does not exist, that simply means that there is in reality no God, which is a positive state of being.

Thus it seems possible to argue rationally that there is no God. But I will leave the argument itself up to the atheists.

I bring this up because I think it is a week argument for the theist to say that one can’t prove atheism b/c one can’t prove a negative, and then let the argument drop at that.

Thoughts?
[/quote]

You can’ prove athiesm because you just can’t. You can’t prove theism either.


#9

[quote=jimmy]You can’ prove athiesm because you just can’t. You can’t prove theism either.
[/quote]

Now that’s an interesting angle. In order to prove God doesn’t exist, would you first have to prove that God existed so you could then demonstrate that He wasn’t “out there”?

Hmm, I don’t even know if that makes any sense…just a random thought as I read the quoted post…:confused:


#10

[quote=RobedWithLight][/font]

St. Thomas, I believe, had criticized St. Anselm’s ontological argument, not because Thomas was an atheist, but rather, because of flaws he saw in Anselm’s reasoning for proving God.

Gerry :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Yes, I agree with Aquinas here. Anselm sought essentially to move from an idea/concept (God) that requires necessary existence to it (God) therefore existing.

No, I say. It only proves that the idea exists.


#11

[quote=mtr01]Now that’s an interesting angle. In order to prove God doesn’t exist, would you first have to prove that God existed so you could then demonstrate that He wasn’t “out there”?

Hmm, I don’t even know if that makes any sense…just a random thought as I read the quoted post…:confused:
[/quote]

No, the idea of his existence would be enough, not the actualization of the idea.


#12

[quote=FelixBlue]No, the idea of his existence would be enough, not the actualization of the idea.
[/quote]

I find this interesting from a logic perspective (although it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve studied it :eek: ).

If this is the case, Felix, aren’t you back where you started? If just the idea of God’s existence is enough, how would one prove an idea didn’t exist?


#13

[quote=mtr01]I find this interesting from a logic perspective (although it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve studied it :eek: ).

If this is the case, Felix, aren’t you back where you started? If just the idea of God’s existence is enough, how would one prove an idea didn’t exist?
[/quote]

Because you are not proving the “idea doesn’t exist”. You are not proving any “ideas”. Rather, you have accepted atheism and theism, as ideas. Now the question becomes, do these ideas correspond to objective reality? Or, which on better corresponds to objective reality?

Here, the statement, “Atheism is irrational because it is a negation of theism,” fails because it remains in the realm of ideas. It does not address whether or not the idea corresponds to objective reality.


#14

Steve Andersen : And since we can’t do any double blind studies on the afterlife . . .

What about the studies being done on NDE (near death experiences)?

Steve Andersen : Now Belief…which requires a leap of fauth is almost by definition unprovable . . .

Humm…a leap of faith? It would be provable depending on what definition you apply to the word ‘faith’.

Faith (Faith) (?), n.
[OE. *feith, fayth, fay, OF. feid, feit, fei, F. foi, fr. L. fides; akin to fidere to trust, Gr. ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ to persuade. The ending th is perhaps due to the influence of such words as truth, health, wealth. See Bid, Bide, and cf. Confide, Defy, Fealty.]

1. Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.
2. The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth. “Faith, that is, fidelity, – the fealty of the finite will and understanding to the reason.” Coleridge.
3. (Theol.) (a) The belief in the historic truthfulness of the Scripture narrative, and the supernatural origin of its teachings, sometimes called historical and speculative faith. (b) The belief in the facts and truth of the Scriptures, with a practical love of them; especially, that confiding and affectionate belief in the person and work of Christ, which affects the character and life, and makes a man a true Christian, – called a practical, evangelical, or saving faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God].” Heb. xi. 6. “The faith of the gospel is that emotion of the mind which is called “trust” or “confidence” exercised toward the moral character of God, and particularly of the Savior.” Dr. T. Dwight.Faith is an affectionate, practical confidence in the testimony of God.” J. Hawes.
4. That which is believed on any subject, whether in science, politics, or religion; especially (Theol.), a system of religious belief of any kind; as, the Jewish or Mohammedan faith; and especially, the system of truth taught by Christ; as, the Christian faith; also, the creed or belief of a Christian society or church. “Which to believe of her, Must be a faith that reason without miracle Could never plant in me.” Shak. “Now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” Gal. i. 23.
5. Fidelity to one’s promises, or allegiance to duty, or to a person honored and beloved; loyalty. “Children in whom is no faith.” Deut. xxvii. 20. “Whose failing, while her faith to me remains, I should conceal.” Milton.
6. Word or honor pledged; promise given; fidelity; as, he violated his faith. “For you alone I broke me faith with injured Palamon.” Dryden.
7. Credibility or truth. R.] “The faith of the foregoing narrative.” Mitford.

– Act of faith. See Auto-da-fé.
– Breach of faith, Confession of faith, etc. See under Breach, Confession, etc.
– Faith cure, a method or practice of treating diseases by prayer and the exercise of faith in God.
– In good faith, with perfect sincerity.
(-- faith healing, faith healer = faith cure. --)
Faith (Faith) (?), interj.

By my faith; in truth; verily.
selfknowledge.com/34748.htm


#15

[quote=FelixBlue]Yes, I agree with Aquinas here. Anselm sought essentially to move from an idea/concept (God) that requires necessary existence to it (God) therefore existing.

No, I say. It only proves that the idea exists.
[/quote]

Correct. St. Thomas Aquinas seems to have concluded that all that Anselm’s argument proves, is that God exists in the mind, and that such “existence” does not necessitate actual, real existence outside the mind, and this is why the Ontological argument fails.

Gerry :slight_smile:


#16

[quote=mtr01]Now that’s an interesting angle. In order to prove God doesn’t exist, would you first have to prove that God existed so you could then demonstrate that He wasn’t “out there”?

Hmm, I don’t even know if that makes any sense…just a random thought as I read the quoted post…:confused:
[/quote]

Atheism does not require one to postulate any sort of supernatural being - there is no reason to believe in a God, because belief may well be no more than a biochemical event in one’s body chemistry. There is nothing to take one from this event, to saying, that there is an entity, independent of the self, Who is the stimulus for it.

IOW, theism is a mirage. It rest on nothing but wishful thinking, that remains wishful no matter how many trillions of people may believe it.

And God is an unnecessary hypothesis.

The trouble with Catholic theism, is that it has painted itself into a corner by trying to be certain about too many things.

That is how I would argue, were I an atheist :slight_smile: ##


#17

First, we must clarify what is meant by proof. Do we mean scientific, empirical proof, which is what an atheist usually demands? If so, then it is certainly impossible to prove much of anything about God or the purpose of our existence.

If, OTOH, proof means “demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt,” then it is quite possible to prove not only theism, but also Christianity specifically. It also remains impossible to prove atheism because atheism is false. One cannot demonstrate that a falsehood is true.

– Mark L. Chance.


#18
  1. as i posted in the other thread, the proposition “it is impossible to prove a negative” is itself a negative: it is synonymous with “the proposition ‘it is possible to prove a negative’ is false”. so how do you prove it?

  2. the proof of any putatively “positive” statement is simultaneously the proof of the falsity of each of its contraries, which are negaitves. for example, if i prove that i am 6 feet tall, i thereby prove that i am not 4 feet tall, or 7 feet tall, or 6-and-a-half feet tall, or…

by the same token, if i prove that everything that exists is a body, then i have proven that there are no immaterial entities. which is, obviously, a negative.

and so on…

  1. all positive statements are synonymous with negative statements, so to prove a positive is at the same time to prove a negative. e.g. A is true = ~(~A) is true.

where did this idea come from, anyway? i have to admit, it’s a new one on me. i mean, i’ve heard something like it on law and order on TV, but that’s hardly a compelling source of information…


#19

[quote=Steve Andersen]Atheism should be easy to prove

Since there are no physical measurements for God, the soul or the supernatural
And since we can’t do any double blind studies on the afterlife
[/quote]

your assumption is that the only things that exist are susceptible to physical measurement and double blind tests. i’d like to see you prove that.

for instance, is the assumption itself capable of being verified by physical experimentation?

There are many rigorous models of the world that fit the observable data and which don’t include God

what do you mean by “rigorous”?

Now Belief…which requires a leap of fauth is almost by definition unprovable

right. and what’s wong with that? i mean, you “believe” that there is a world that exists independently of your thoughts; you “believe” that your senses aren’t deceiving you about that world; you “believe” that there are other minds - other individuals that think and feel just like you; you “believe” that there is a past and that the world wasn’t created, say, 5 minutes ago just to seem like there’s really a past. and so on.

I mean if you could prove there was a God then what would be the whole point?

He would be reduced to the equivalent of a geometry proof or a chemical equation.

why do you say that? if i could prove that my mother is actually my mother, would that mean she wasn’t deserving of my love? or that i don’t have an obligation to respect and honor her?

does proving that my son is actually my son reduce him to a kind of mathematical equation? of course not.

so why should having rational certainty about the existence of god mean those things about god?


#20

[quote=FelixBlue]This is a topic that came up in another thread. Since it wasn’t exactly addressing what the original thread was about, I thought I’d bring it up here.

The question: is it possible to prove atheism as it would be possible to prove theism?

Thus it seems possible to argue rationally that there is no God. But I will leave the argument itself up to the atheists.

Thoughts?
[/quote]

Something I read once in an old Catholic Answers newsletter…It went something like this…
believer: "So you say you don’t believe in God."
atheist: "Yes, that’s right. I believe there is no God."
believer: “So you believe there is no God? So you have FAITH?”


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