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Atheists frequently make assertions about God and Christianity which when asked to substantiate they point blank refuse to do so, confusingly thinking that they have no burden of proof for assertions they make to positive knowledge. Usually the conversation ends up with them trying to move the burden of proof to the theist asking for the substantiation of their assertion with them blissfully unaware that they have the burden of proof for their assertions and obliged to substantiate it regardless of whether the person requesting it is a theist, fellow atheist, agnostic or just an interested party.  This section of my blog will record those assertions and, where relevant, remark upon them briefly. Where I list an assertion and the poster then seeks to establish that assertion with evidence I will mark it as such but unless otherwise marked it falls into the ‘assertion made, refused to substantiate’ category.

Such assertions of course fall under the dictum ascribed to the late Christopher Hitchens, ‘That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’.


“God is an idea, not a fact. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”.

This is an assertion – a claim to positive knowledge – as to what God is, an idea and not a fact. If it is not to be dismissed then it must be evidenced as per the very statement the poster includes in his comment.


“All over the planet people are killing each other over their version of a non-existent God”.

Following the posting of this tweet the poster, although agreeing that, ‘that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’, refused to substantiate his assertion that God is non-existent. His final remark was that I could dismiss all I wanted. It well shows that atheists are of the wrong view that they have no burden of proof to evidence what they assert (make claim to positive knowledge) whilst they demand the same from theists


In response to the statement, “There is no excuse not to know God. Romans 1:20” it was asserted, ‘Except for the fact that no gods exist’.

The atheist responding to this was right to respond to what amounts to an unsubstantiated theistic assertion but wrong in responding with but another unsubstantiated assertion. Perhaps a more appropriate response would have been along the lines of requesting substantiation for the theistic assertion and why the Bible should be regarded as proof of the claim made to those who don’t regard the Bible as ‘Holy Scripture’ from God. Whatever the case, it was requested of the atheist they substantiate with evidence that it is a fact that no gods exist. No response was forthcoming from that atheist.

Update: A response was forthcoming from the poster of the above assertion as follows:

“Plain and simple, the burden of proof lies on you. I can say there is a flying monkey in my closet, unless I can prove it it means nothing. So go ahead. Prove I don’t have a flying monkey in the closet… You can’t can you? Must be there then? Sound crazy? You know why? Because it is stupid logic.

Not only is this a misunderstanding of the burden of proof but it is a clear attempt to shift the burden from the person who has made the assertion (claim to positive knowledge), i.e. a fact that no gods exist, but it exhibits a very poor grasp of logic, not understanding that whilst I would be justified in being highly skeptical that there was a flying monkey in the closet I would not be justified as stating as a fact that there was no flying money in the closet. It is upon such misguided logic that the #atheism of many is based.

Following being notified I had updated my blog to reflect their recent remarks and my response to it the ‘rational, freethinking, tolerant, seeker-after-truth’ atheist indicated they had blocked me.




Comments on: "Atheists and the Assertions they Make then Refuse to Substantiate" (2)

  1. That’s so valid. The poster merely claims “God is an idea, not a fact.” Since the poster offers NO evidence that God is not a fact, their claim that God is just an idea can be equally and easily dismissed.

    Good point, this is how they (the atheist) often attempts to shift the burden and fall under another fallacy of Special Pleading. That is, I do not need evidence, only you do.

  2. There are two entirely different claims in those sentences: that God is an idea and that what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

    The first is kind of meaningless; everything you can think of is represented as at least an idea. The entire discussion theists and atheists have is whether or not that idea has an existential referent (i.e. does the idea represent a truth?)

    It is true that God is not a fact in an epistemological sense; there is insufficient evidence in support of the claim that God is real. Remember the other little dictum: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That doesn’t exclude the possibility of God being an unknown existential truth, it just excludes the rationale of anyone that claims to know.

    A wise man apportions his belief to the evidence. That something shouldn’t be accepted without evidence (which is what it means to say “that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”) should be just obvious. Imagine an epistemology that held all unsubstantiated claims to be true until overwhelming falsifications were available; we’d have to consider every silly claim, and unfalsifiable claims (like the invisible incorporeal dragon in my garage [Carl Sagan] or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Bertrand Russel’s Tea Pot) would have to be considered true for their falsification is unavailable.

    Even JK Rowling got it in Harry Potter, when someone tells Hermione “You can’t prove it didn’t happen” she responded “Well that’s just silly. You could claim all sorts of things if you thought like that, couldn’t you” (or words to that effect, I don’t have the book or film to hand).

    I hope this alleviates your worries that these claims are not substantiated.


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