Nothing Exists Until Proven Otherwise

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about beliefs and the existence of god. She took the position that atheism was a belief that god did not exist. This is incorrect in a technical sense. One doesn’t believe in nonexistence; one simply lacks belief in the existence.

This extends beyond divine beings. Nothing exists until proven otherwise. To claim something exists without evidence is a belief. Denial of the existence is simply stating a fact about reality as we know it. A claim built on evidence is at worse a theory; at best it is a fact. I live with a worldview built on evidence, theories and facts, not beliefs.

This worldview accepts the scientific method through human observation as the arbiter of evidence and truth. My desk exists because I can see it, touch it, hear it when I knock on it AND everyone else who encounters it has the same  sensory experience. All observational evidence points toward its existence.

It is possible to take a point of view that the human observation is not sufficient to prove something’s existence. There is a philosophy point that nothing outside our mind is even knowable. This point of view is useless because it completely cripples the ability to make predictions about the future. The scientific method is valuable because not only does it accurately model what has happened in the past, it can also be used to predict the future. The reality that science creates is a useful one.

There is no scientific evidence for any divine being in the universe. No repeatable, testable definition of god has been found to produce positive results.  Any one who claims that god exists is doing so without evidence; it is a belief. The rest of us are simply living in an evidence based reality; no belief is needed.

-That is all.

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7 thoughts on “Nothing Exists Until Proven Otherwise

  1. “She took the position that atheism was a belief that god did not exist. This is incorrect in a technical sense. One doesn’t believe in nonexistence; one simply lacks belief in the existence.”

    I think this is more apparent to people who have always been an atheist, but it’s hard to look at it that way for people who have de-converted.

    For many people who de-converted, I think atheism “feels” like it’s a belief that God doesn’t exist. And the reason why is because someone had belief at one time, and now they don’t. At some point, the person must’ve come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist.

    This seems like an important distinction from one who never believed in the first place.

  2. Nicholas Lester Bell says:

    I do not think simply being a former believer is key. I am a former believer, and I grasped this concept without a problem. In fact, actually held this point of view AS a believer. Even then, I would never have argued atheism is a belief system. So I think it is a deeper problem than simply being a former believer.

  3. Martyt says:

    Nick,
    As you know we share similar viewpoints. I think viewpoint might be a better word since belief is fraught with meaning. My view is that atheism is a conclusion. I think it is not a good position to be a strict atheist in terms of a “belief” that there is no god. One can’t prove the non-existence of anything. However, as an operational thing, it is reasonable (and correct) to come to the conclusion that there is not credible evidence for the existence of god. I would say I am an agnostic. If evidence were presented, I would of course believe as I am a rational person.I’m an agnostic about bigfoot, too. However, I think that strong evidential and philosophical arguments can be made for the non-existence of god. But science knows nothing as certainty, it’s better to talk about probability. You desk’s existence is nearly 100% probable, god’s existence is improbable in the extreme, but possible.

  4. Nicholas Lester Bell says:

    Just a pet peeve of mine, but agnostic does not actual mean what you think it does. It is not a point between atheism and theism. To be agnostic about a subject is to believe it is unknowable. I actually have a post about this if you want more detail: http://wp.me/p134x6-pn.

  5. Gnosticism is about Knowledge Theism and A-Theism is about belief. The question that gets asked, determines the answer given.

    1. Question; Is there a God
    Answer; I don’t know
    Hence Agnostic… (because so far this question is unknowable)

    2. Question; Do you believe in God
    Answer; No
    Hence Atheism… (because we see no credible evidence for a positive claim)

    I too wrote a bit on this here http://nodeities.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=50&Itemid=59

  6. Nicholas Lester Bell says:

    For my money, I am NOT agnostic about gods; I do not believe the question of their existence is unknowable. If a god exists, its effect on the world must be observable and verifiable. ALL things are knowable; nothing real is immune from verification. It is possible a god exists who is beyond our current skill to verify, but that does not change the fact that the existence of god is knowable. Just as we once couldn’t see distant galaxies, but they have always existed. And at this point, all the observable evidence in every corner of the universe we can see points to a reality without divine intervention.

  7. I too have to agree that at this point with all the “lack” of evidence, being agnostic is too some degree intellectually dishonest; couple that with thousands of years of Pholosophic and Scientific inquiry; putting your honest foot in the door of Atheism is the sound conclution.

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