Richard Dawkins has an atheist line that suggests the burden of proof lies with the theist, not the atheist. The proof of God’s existence he means.
It’s an odd contortion that I find somewhat irrational because basically he is saying, I demand God prove His non existence to me. If Dawkins simply did not believe, he would simply go about the business of not believing. He does not, instead he demands constant proof and validation for his non belief and runs around seeking deconvertees, as if the truth of God’s existence can be based on a consensus. He is evangelizing his atheism.
I can think of nothing else in the physical world that works this way, except perhaps global warming. That may well be a bit of science whose truth is based entirely on belief, as in 4 out of five scientists believe, therefore it is. It’s an odd modern phenomenon and reminds me more of faith than actual science. The world has gone a bit nuts when it demands science be taken as a matter of belief, while faith must be backed up by evidence and facts.
There are many things I believe in that are not really based on evidence and facts, and not get too depressing here, but those things are all virtues, having to do with the higher selves of men, things like love, truth, justice, freedom. Rather romantic ideals really, that require a great deal of idealism. If you look about the world, evidence of those things can be hard to find…..unless you develop the eyes to see them and go looking about every nook and crevice. Seek and you shall find.
All in good humor here, but what do you find? An essence, an energy, the footprint of someone else who embraced those values and the ripples in the pond that they left behind. Faith has a genuine evidence and a substance to it, but it can be a somewhat ethereal thing, not unlike a fragrance. That does not make it any less real, electrons, atoms, the sounds that dogs hear, cannot always be perceived by human senses either, but that does not make them any less real either.
Which brings me to that dreaded concept, personal responsibility. I frequently have to sit on some precarious pieces of furniture, the other day a piece of firewood that was threatening to throw me off. I suppose I could say to a three legged stool, the burden of proof for your ability to hold me is entirely on your rickety legs, but that would be somewhat irrational and amusing. A stool of course, is not a sentient being and cares nothing about whether or not I land on the ground. Like it or not, the burden of proof is entirely on me, as are the consequences.
Telling a chair, prove yourself worthy of holding me, is pretty much the last ditch effort of the truly desperate….
The proof, the evidence, the truth of the higher selves of men, as well as the existence and nature of God, are all around us and even within us. The burden of proof however does not lie with the theist nor does it lie with God Himself. He has given us the method, the means, and the madness to pursue Him, but we must each take that first step.
A leap of faith is not always logical or rational, nor is it always based on weighing the evidence, in fact it is often a great gamble, but it is one that we make manifest in the world as surely as we make the higher selves of men manifest in the world. Those elusive concepts like justice, freedom, love, must be dreamed of, imagined, believed in, and pursued. God is like that too, always calling to us, always knocking on the door to our hearts and asking us to just believe.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That chair I sat on the other day did indeed hold me, but once it did not even exist, it was just someone’s idea, belief, dream of a chair, that they brought towards themselves and made real in the world. That is how that chair came into existence. I know that chair had a creator just as I know I did. I cannot demand the chair prove it’s existence, anymore than I can demand I prove my own. Nor can I look upon that chair and imagine it just sprung forth from nothingness and carved its own self. Well I can, but that would be downright silly.
The burden of proof lies within each of us and it requires us taking some personal responsibility to lend evidence and substance to our own faith, of which there is ample reason and evidence to do so. God is real, even more real than that chair, but each one of must open that door and have a look.