Dictionary defines ‘Burden of proof’ as
“A duty placed upon a civil or criminal defendant to prove or disprove a disputed fact.”
I disprove of this definition. Firstly because, burden of proof does not apply only to civil or criminal defendant but to you, me and everybody else(Including ‘God’, but let me come to that later).
And secondly, this incoherent definition does not state on whom the burden of proof lies. Hence, the entire concept has been misinterpreted. So let me shine a bit of light on it.
Let’s say, I put forward this statement to you- ‘There are a bunch of 10 meerkats residing in Jupiter for the past 5 years, partying and drinking booze’. Can you refute me? No. Even though you know that my statement is impossible and utter gibberish, yet you can’t prove me wrong. Investigating my claim would be beyond the limits of current technology. But does that make my ‘claim’ a fact? Is that good enough reason to believe it?
If we adopt this approach to develop facts, we could come up with countless fantastic claims with no way whatsoever of investigating. And you can dismiss any kind of skepticism with a chorus of ‘You can’t prove me wrong!’. Do you find the loophole here? Yes! This is because the burden of proof is dumped on the person in the receiving end, wherein it should be carried by the preacher. Hence, when someone makes a claim, the obligation lies with them to prove it, and not with the skeptic to prove it wrong. Do not mistake me thinking i’am introducing a new set of rules and dogma’s here. Look at scientists. Unless they have a solid supporting evidence to back them up on their unconfirmed thesis, they are regarded as nothing more than lunatics.
And no article is ever complete unless we bring up the most-debated and crippling topic of ‘Existence of God – fallcy or reality’. One very interesting answer was given by Evangelical Pastor Douglas Wilson when asked to give the proof for the existence of God. He denied his burden of proof. When asked ‘Who then, do you think carries it?’, He coolly replied ‘I believe the one who denies the self-evident fact that god exists’. But do you see the incoherence of his reply? If he believes that it is a self-evident fact, then there would be no one denying it!
And from the above context, don’t prejudice me to be an atheist because of my skeptical remark. Along the same lines, I’am no theist either. The closest that i would reach to identify myself as someone is a ‘pantheist’ – A person who believes that the universe is identical with divinity. A person who has intolerance to many gods.
The next most prominent question to be asked is regarding the creation of the Universe. If you had any scientific and astronomical knowledge, you wouldn’t have though of the word ‘God’. But the preachers bluntly accept this. But it doesn’t work that way. Your divinity doesn’t get you a free pass. Like any of other being, you have to back it up with an evidence. And even if monotheism is accepted, you have a long upcoming list of limitless opponents who believe in polytheism. Saying a god created doesn’t make it true, neither does poetic preachings. Gods and poetry bring us no closer to the actual answer. And rejecting it doesn’t imply that I have all the answers with me.
Some claim that during a debate of ‘Existence of divinity’, since the skeptics do not have a counter-argument against the arguments put forth by the preachers, the veracity edges over to their side. This is, again, wrong. When the preachers put forth their claims, the opponent can easily shoot them all down with relevant and acceptable facts, which, far from having to concede the debate, the opponent has proved that the preacher has no case. Hence, at the end, the opponent has no reason to change his/her stand, whereas the preacher with no arguments left with him/her, does.
The problem here is that, the theists are so deeply embedded in their beliefs that they do not understand how bizarre it seems to the outisde world. If shouldering the burden of proof is too much for you, you can always withdraw your claim. But instead people generally resort to double standards, which is just another way of stating the fact that they are playing the victim. And generally, they resort to accomplish this by one of the most transparent ways in which they frame themselves as people who ‘lack belief in the non-existence of god’. But, trying to convert a claim into a non-claim by aping the position of sceptic doesn’t give you warrant to live outside the law of justification.
In the past, almost all the religions have tried to demonize questions and in the gradual process, have developed a complacency of not answering them. But, as time has passed, evolution has trumped creationism, and pragmatism has trumped religious preachings, and now more than ever in the information age, too many of us are getting to know what’s going on behind the curtain.
Meeting a burden of proof isn’t always easy, but without people volunteering to put forth claims and having evidence to support it, our education would be at a standstill. Supernatural claim makers somehow believe that they are an exception to this rule. And in an educational world like ours, their pleading will be increasingly occulted by the actual facts.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary burden of proof. But however, when the claim-maker doesn’t take it seriously, it relieves us of the burden of taking his/her claim seriously.
On another note, we always talk about people being ‘mentally strong’. The following link has one of the best and most apt description I’ve ever come across – http://www.endoriot.com/2014/03/13-things-mentally-strong-people-dont-do.html