5 true statements that I hear almost every day…

5 true statements that I hear almost every day as if someone is telling me something new to my ears:

1) “The person making a positive claim has the burden of proof!”

No kidding, but they aren’t the only person who has a burden of proof. As logicalfalacies.com notes it isn’t black and white:

“The burden of proof is a legal and philosophical concept with differences in each domain. In everyday debate, the burden of proof typically lies with the person making the claim, but it can also lie with the person denying a well-established fact or theory. Like other non-black and white issues, there are instances where this is clearly fallacious, and those which are not as clear.”


2) “Agnosticism deals with knowledge!”

No kidding, it can deal with knowledge as either a normative epistemic principle (similar to evidentialism or logical positivism) or epistemological proposition (The knowledge of Gods are unknowable), but most commonly in modernity it means the psychological state of being agnostic on p or the belief that one is not justified to assign a truth value to the proposition of theism so one suspends judgment on it. Agnosticism has nothing to do with knowledge with respect to evaluation of the proposition of theism.

“Nowadays, the term “agnostic” is often used (when the issue is God’s existence) to refer to those who follow the recommendation expressed in the conclusion of Huxley’s argument: an agnostic is a person who has entertained the proposition that there is a God but believes neither that it is true nor that it is false.”

SEP: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/#DefiAthe

3) “Atheism deals with belief!”

No kidding. No, seriously…no kidding.

4) “Atheism is a lack of belief!”

No kidding, all atheists lack a belief, but not all who lack a belief are atheist. Agnostics lack a belief but are neither atheist nor theist (Oppy 2017, SEP). This would be similar to saying all theist lack a belief Gods do not exist, but not all who lack a belief that Gods do not exist are theists. I lack a belief Gods do not exist, but I am not a theist because I merely lack a belief Gods do not exist. Atheism is a lack of belief Gods exist the same as theism is a lack of belief Gods do not exist, but lacking a belief here is a necessary precondition for atheism and theist, but not sufficient to necessitate someone being one or the other by merely lacking belief in both the existence and non-existence of Gods.
(Note: Saying “Atheism is merely (only, just) a lack of belief!” is always fundamentally wrong is it assumes no other definitions exists. In order to avoid this I think it would have be explicitly stated as “Atheism in the sensu stricto case is merely lack of belief!” or something to the effect of noting the atypical schema of the making nontheism=atheism that qualifies it as merely being true within the confines of the belief system rather than a universal statement.

5) “Not believing Gods does not exist doesn’t necessarily mean you believe Gods do not exist!”

No kidding. If you believe Gods do not exist that entails you do not believe that they do exist. The converse is not true such that if you do not believe Gods exist, it does not necessarily mean that you believe Gods do not exist. (B~p ⊨ ~Bp) ^ (B~p ⊭ Bp).

STOP telling me these things. I’ve heard them a million times. Thank you!

Author: Steve McRae

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