The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Does the burden of proof fall on Believers?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/2/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,089 times Debate No: 35213
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




In the argument over the existence of something you do not start with the assumption that it does until a worth argument proves otherwise. The burden of proof lies to those who believe, to prove that gods exists.
This is not a debate over the existence of gods, rather who should be asking for evidence and who should be providing.


I would like to thank PRO for this debate, I hope we can have fun with it. This isn't a position I generally take, so it'll be different for me.

Since PRO has not specified, for clarity, I suggest that "Burden of Proof," be defined as the responsibility to provide evidence held by the one making a positive claim. [1]

PRO has stated that in discussions regarding the "existence of something," believers carry the burden of proof. I am going to argue that this is not always the case, the non-believer can hold the burden of proof.

In any discussion, the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. Often, in theist/atheist debates this is the theist making the claim that a god exists. However, depending on the specific details of the discussion, the atheist may bear the burden partially or totally. Consider the following two statements:

1) A god exists.
2) No gods exist.

PRO has stated that "The burden of proof lies to those who believe, to prove that gods exists." It is clear that this holds up in statement 1, however, in statement 2 the non-believer carries the burden of proof for their positive claim.

I feel I have demonstrated my point; that the non-believer can hold the burden of proof. I look forward to PRO's next round.

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for taking the position of the Con argument. I hope to have fun with it to.

Belief is a psychological state in which we place trust or confidence in the validity of something. By this definition "Non-belief" and the belief that something is true are different things.
Non-belief is not a claim, rather it is the rejection of a claim. Which can be due to whatever reason, whether it's lack of knowledge or lack of evidence.

The "Non-believer" you speak of in your argument is a believer in statement 2. Which is not the same thing as a non-believer in statement 1. Just as the rejection of statement 2 doesn't necessarily make you a believer in statement 1.


I would like to thank PRO for his second round.

I will begin by saying that I agree with everything you said in your second round; I am going to take issue with the definition of a word: believer.

In religious discussions, the word "believer" is generally used to refer to an individual who believes in a god, or in a particular god. In fact, many dictionaries state religious belief as a secondary (sometimes primary) definition [1][2][3]. As this debate was placed in the "Religion" category, and PRO did not offer a definition, I do not think it is unreasonable of me to utilize this definition. Furthermore, in the debate title, the word "believer" is capitalized, suggesting a defined group, such as those who share belief in a god. PRO himself stated in his first round arguments, "The burden of proof lies to those who believe, to prove that gods exists," further suggesting this definition.

I am confused by PRO's usage of a different definition in the second round of this debate. Regardless, I would be happy to argue the CON position using PRO's new definition.
Belief-"a psychological state in which we place trust or confidence in the validity of something."-PRO

A believer carries no Burden of Proof (BOP). I can believe in gods, fairies, celestial teapots and the absolute superiority of the Chicago Cubs, and carry no BOP. As I mentioned in the first round (and PRO did not object), a BOP is "held by the one making a positive claim." I can believe all of these things, and not own a BOP if I keep them to myself. I only carry the BOP when I move from being a believer, to being a claimant. A believer holds no BOP; a claimant carries the BOP.

Claimant-"a person making a claim" [4]

Debate Round No. 2


I first want to apologize for any confusion over what I meant by "Believer".
CON has made a great argument. I could attempt to keep up some kind of debate but honestly have nothing.

I do have a question, which will give you something to do for the last round. What's the fundamental difference between claiming and believing?


The fundamental difference between claiming and believing is opening your mouth. I can believe all sorts of malarkey; you don't know about it, and you probably don't care. However, once I open my mouth and say, "The Tooth Fairy is real," I have accepted the BOP.

I would like to thank CON for this debate, it has been interesting.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Wocambs 4 years ago
Believing is a positive statement - non-belief is clearly not, and here it becomes clear where the burden of proof lies. EGGnostic allowed his opponent to claim that the only alternative to belief in God is to believe that he does not exist, i.e. to state an opposing claim, rather than to simply reject the statement that God exists, which is the true 'atheist' position. I suppose the result of the debate was fair, though.
Posted by Skeptikitten 4 years ago
It's too bad that Pro didn't put up much of a fight, as it is clear the BoP falls on the theist.
"A god exists" is a positive claim. "Prove it" is not, which is the statement of the atheist. Very few atheists state "no gods exist", thus con committed a strawman fallacy.
It is also logically impossible to prove universal nonexistence of an entity.

It's funny how some theists try to weasel out of the BoP when, for ANY other supernatural or extraordinary entity, they would require evidence before belief. If I claim I have an invisible, intangible dragon in my garage and my neighbor says "Prove it or I don't believe in invisible intangible dragons", only an idiot would require my neighbor to pony up evidence to disprove my nutball claim.
Posted by prunesquallor 4 years ago
If I proclaim to people that I've seen flying pigs, it would be absurd if I demanded of them to either prove that I didn't see said pigs or accept what I've said and publish scientific journals about Levitato scrofa domesticus.
Posted by EGGnostic 4 years ago
When I say "Theists" I am referring to anyone who believes in the existence of a god or gods.
Posted by JustinAMoffatt 4 years ago
are you arguing that it lies SOLELY on thesits? or just that it lies just as much on theists as any school of thought? If it's the former, I'll accept.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheFurryOat 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: I agree with Con's statement that the burden of proof falls to whoever makes the claim, not the belief of the claim. This was an interesting debate due to it's plain nature and impact it could have on other debates. I feel that this topic could be debated more thoroughly though.