Of Claims and Burden of Proof

I write on religious education forum <http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/>one of our friends

beenherebeforeagain, a scientist from Central Illinois,  has written post  #26 under the topic/thread <Claims and Burden of Proof> which I have appreciated and with his permission the same is given hereunder for the benefit of the viewers of this blog.

beenherebeforeagain says:

(vide post #26 in response to post #25 )


“1) “Isn’t it better” is a value judgment, based on some pre-existing assumptions about what is good or bad. It’s possible to make a reasoned argument that it is better, but not everyone will agree, because they will have use different assumptions in their reasoning. It’s been pretty conclusively shown in psychology that people don’t build beliefs from facts, but use facts to justify beliefs most of the time.

2) While in logic there might be a reason for some beliefs to be considered “default” positions, the standard method in most sciences is called the “null hypothesis,” a statement to the effect, “There is no evidence of X.” The null hypothesis is always paired with an alternative, “There is evidence of X.” The scientist then collects and analyzed appropriate evidence to see if there is evidence or no evidence. Many scientists would probably take the position that the default should be “there is no evidence of God,” but I (and I like to believe there are others with me) would say that the correct default is to recognize that “God” is an inherently untestable proposition for science, and therefore science should not be spending time trying to refute God. Other propositions, such as “There is no evidence of a global flood of Biblical proportions occurring roughly 4,000 years ago” (paired with the alternative that there is evidence) is a testable proposition, and certainly falls within the venue of science.

3) “…who accept and believe unfalsifiable conjecture that have already been REFUTED and DEBUNKED…” Really? if it’s an unfalsifiable conjecture, by its very nature it cannot be refuted or debunked. The problem often is that modern skeptics don’t like to allow such conjectures to go without response of some kind. “Believing in Gods” is therefore not like either of your propositions above: believing in God(s) is believing in something that cannot be empirically tested. Is that a good or a bad thing? Your position is a value judgment based on prior assumptions.

4) As a scientist, I’ll disagree that there is “a” scientific method. There are a number of methods used in science, appropriate for different kinds of science activity, none of which works in all situations.

5) Beliefs are not the same as hypotheses, and people rarely change beliefs because of evidence–yes, it does happen, but it’s also very difficult to define what exactly is a belief, and what exactly is a change, and why does that change happen? Modern science and skeptics have defined certain kinds of information as not valid evidence for use in science: individual experience, divine revelation, holy texts, and so on are among them. But most people reason using all of the information available to them–they have to learn to exclude these “nonvalid” sources from consideration to learn to do science. It’s another value judgment, based on some prior assumptions, about what should be considered evidence, and how it should be analyzed.

Yes, to a scientist/skeptic, the reasoning of creationism and ID appears invalid, but to supporters of Creationism and ID, the reasoning of scientists/skeptics appears invalid–because both sides make different assumptions about what is acceptable as evidence in their reasoning. It doesn’t make progress to insult the other side.

6) Burden of proof always lies with the maker of a positive claim, but the burden of rejoinder means that if you wish to respond, you must take on the burden of proof to show that the first claimant is incorrect in either their evidence or their reasoning. In order for this to be effective, one must be able to clearly state their own pre-existing assumptions, and clarify how those assumptions differ from the original claimant. In the world of science, it is never enough just to undermine the argument of a claimant–one must offer an alternative that explains more of the evidence in a (usually) simpler but still testable manner.”


Paarsurrey says:

In religion no physical or material experiments are performed or possible to be performed; in religion it is experiences and Word of Revelation from the one true God form the facts that the issues are perceived as right or wrong


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