1. Joined
    08 Oct '06
    Moves
    24000
    10 Apr '10 22:00
    I have often heard the claim that it is impossible to prove a negative. While I've heard many examples of where it is impossible to prove a negative (i.e. "we can't disprove God", " a ball will never 'fall' up"๐Ÿ˜‰, the examples make me lean towards the idea that it's impossible to prove a negative, but I'm not entirely convinced. Could someone explain this to me from a more philosophical standpoint?
  2. Joined
    30 May '09
    Moves
    28126
    10 Apr '10 22:37
    Originally posted by amolv06
    I have often heard the claim that it is impossible to prove a negative. While I've heard many examples of where it is impossible to prove a negative (i.e. "we can't disprove God", " a ball will never 'fall' up"๐Ÿ˜‰, the examples make me lean towards the idea that it's impossible to prove a negative, but I'm not entirely convinced. Could someone explain this to me from a more philosophical standpoint?
    The claim that it is impossible to prove a negative is a bit vague really. In general it is a false claim though.
  3. Joined
    24 Apr '05
    Moves
    3061
    11 Apr '10 00:45
    Originally posted by amolv06
    I have often heard the claim that it is impossible to prove a negative. While I've heard many examples of where it is impossible to prove a negative (i.e. "we can't disprove God", " a ball will never 'fall' up"๐Ÿ˜‰, the examples make me lean towards the idea that it's impossible to prove a negative, but I'm not entirely convinced. Could someone explain this to me from a more philosophical standpoint?
    The claim "It is impossible to prove a negative" is, depending on how it is meant, either (1) blatantly false or (2) not interesting.

    Here is an informal article on the subject:

    http://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/proveanegative.pdf
  4. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    12 Apr '10 06:57
    Originally posted by amolv06
    I have often heard the claim that it is impossible to prove a negative. While I've heard many examples of where it is impossible to prove a negative (i.e. "we can't disprove God", " a ball will never 'fall' up"๐Ÿ˜‰, the examples make me lean towards the idea that it's impossible to prove a negative, but I'm not entirely convinced. Could someone explain this to me from a more philosophical standpoint?
    We can potentially disprove the existence of God, on the condition that the term 'God' is given a precise definition - regardless of what that definition is, and assuming he does not exist. The usual argument for not being able to prove the non-existence of God is based on the fact that the definition of 'God' is so loose that it could mean just about anything.
  5. Standard memberkaroly aczel
    the Devil himself
    Brisbane,QLD
    Joined
    11 Apr '09
    Moves
    91601
    12 Apr '10 08:16
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    We can potentially disprove the existence of God, on the condition that the term 'God' is given a precise definition - regardless of what that definition is, and assuming he does not exist. The usual argument for not being able to prove the non-existence of God is based on the fact that the definition of 'God' is so loose that it could mean just about anything.
    I don't get your post. How can you potentially disprove the existence of God if you have no defintion for it?
    I realize what you are sort of saying but could you re-phrase it at all?
    Could you maybe outline the potential for dissproving a Christian God?
  6. Joined
    28 Jul '04
    Moves
    69617
    12 Apr '10 11:201 edit
    Originally posted by karoly aczel
    I don't get your post. How can you potentially disprove the existence of God if you have no defintion for it?
    I realize what you are sort of saying but could you re-phrase it at all?
    Could you maybe outline the potential for dissproving a Christian God?
    Let's assume you have a precise definition of a Christian God with certain characteristics etc. It would be easy (or easier!) to prove he does exist, as all you just have to do is find this God with those characteristics.

    However, proving that he DOESN'T exist wouldn't be as easy, as to *not* find him will require looking everywhere in this universe and possible multi-verses to make sure he doesn't exist.
  7. Standard memberPalynka
    Upward Spiral
    Halfway
    Joined
    02 Aug '04
    Moves
    8702
    12 Apr '10 13:40
    If we prove X is logically impossible then we prove that X doesn't exist.

    What we can't do is use empirics to prove a negative, but we can use logic.
  8. Standard memberAgerg
    The 'edit'or
    converging to it
    Joined
    21 Aug '06
    Moves
    11458
    12 Apr '10 13:491 edit
    Originally posted by Palynka
    If we prove X is logically impossible then we prove that X doesn't exist.

    What we can't do is use empirics to prove a negative, but we can use logic.
    That would work for all those who don't think:

    "God is above your human logic" ๐Ÿ˜•
  9. Standard memberPalynka
    Upward Spiral
    Halfway
    Joined
    02 Aug '04
    Moves
    8702
    12 Apr '10 13:55
    Originally posted by Agerg
    That would work for all those who don't think:

    "God is above your human logic" ๐Ÿ˜•
    Sure, but to be fair, proving that a certain God is logically impossible is harder than it looks.
  10. Cape Town
    Joined
    14 Apr '05
    Moves
    52945
    12 Apr '10 14:34
    Originally posted by lausey
    However, proving that he DOESN'T exist wouldn't be as easy, as to *not* find him will require looking everywhere in this universe and possible multi-verses to make sure he doesn't exist.
    I agree that non-existence is usually harder to prove, but that is a function of possible existences.
    Your claim that we must look everywhere is only true if God is defined as existing in an unknown location, and having no known specific effect on a known location.
    For example, if God is defined as being a little green man in my fridge, then I need only look in my fridge, and verify the absence of little green men to prove his non-existence.
    If God is defined as bringing happiness to all, then I need only prove the existence of one unhappy person to prove his non-existence.
    etc
  11. Standard memberblack beetle
    Black Beastie
    Scheveningen
    Joined
    12 Jun '08
    Moves
    14510
    12 Apr '10 15:02
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I agree that non-existence is usually harder to prove, but that is a function of possible existences.
    Your claim that we must look everywhere is only true if God is defined as existing in an unknown location, and having no known specific effect on a known location.
    For example, if God is defined as being a little green man in my fridge, then I need only ...[text shortened]... ll, then I need only prove the existence of one unhappy person to prove his non-existence.
    etc
    Methinks this variation would leave you dead in the water, because the sole thing you could know by means of your empiricism would be that this wee green man in yer fridge was not there simply at the given time that you had yer fridge checked; there is no way to escape the superposition even if you keep your fridge constantly under the closest observation, for time is infinite. And you could die waiting in vain for that wee green man to appear, because you will never know whether or not the tricky dwarf will appear after your demise -and this is valid even if we accept that the number of the observers would be infinite; after some trillion years of observation without the appearance of the dwarf in your fridge you would be still unable to state that the dwarf doesn't exist -you could simply state that he didn't appear in yer fridge.

    And there are some more places than the fridge, in which the wee dwarf could appear I reckon๐Ÿ˜ต
  12. Standard memberAgerg
    The 'edit'or
    converging to it
    Joined
    21 Aug '06
    Moves
    11458
    12 Apr '10 15:085 edits
    Originally posted by black beetle
    Methinks this variation would leave you dead in the water, because the sole thing you could know by means of your empiricism would be that this wee green man in yer fridge was not there simply at the given time that you had yer fridge checked; there is no way to escape the superposition even if you keep your fridge constantly under the closest observati And there are some more places than the fridge, in which the wee dwarf could appear I reckon๐Ÿ˜ต
    Given that Twitehead said: "if God is defined as being a little green man in my fridge"
    Wouldn't this god *fail* to satisfy the given definition if it was infact true that it wasn't little, or wasn't green, or wasn't a man, or in particular: wasn't in *his* fridge at *any* time? ๐Ÿ˜•
  13. Standard memberblack beetle
    Black Beastie
    Scheveningen
    Joined
    12 Jun '08
    Moves
    14510
    12 Apr '10 16:47
    Originally posted by Agerg
    Given that Twitehead said: "if God is defined as being a little green man in my fridge"
    Wouldn't this god *fail* to satisfy the given definition if it was infact true that it wasn't little, or wasn't green, or wasn't a man, or in particular: wasn't in *his* fridge at *any* time? ๐Ÿ˜•
    No, because regardless of the infinite temprorary definitions that we can attribute momentarily to an ever shape/ place/ time -shifting "god" we are unable to bring up the falsification even of one single definition herenow, whilst at the same time we cannot falsify an event that has not yet occured although according to our empiricism is considered "unable" because it never occured in the known to us past. So the necessity of the empiricism remains, therefore we just face another case of superposition -and thus anything keeps up going ad infinitum
    ๐Ÿ˜ต
  14. Standard memberAgerg
    The 'edit'or
    converging to it
    Joined
    21 Aug '06
    Moves
    11458
    12 Apr '10 17:101 edit
    Originally posted by black beetle
    No, because regardless of the infinite temprorary definitions that we can attribute momentarily to an ever shape/ place/ time -shifting "god" we are unable to bring up the falsification even of one single definition herenow, whilst at the same time we cannot falsify an event that has not yet occured although according to our empiricism is considered "un e just face another case of superposition -and thus anything keeps up going ad infinitum
    ๐Ÿ˜ต
    I see your point, but Twitehead's hypothetical god wasn't defined to be a "timeshifting/shapeshifting/placeshifting little green man for which there exists at least one time where it's location was or will be inside his fridge"; it was defined as nothing more than
    "a little green man in [his] fridge".

    I still argue, assuming the definition remains constant, it would fail to be a little green man in his fridge if it wasn't in his fridge. Moreover, if we allow the possibility that sometimes the little green man is inside his fridge whilst at others absent then the definition is ambiguous (which means crystal clear to most theists)
    Though of course one may challenge the means via which one would ascertain it's lack of presence I suppose...agh! why am I arguing about little green men??? ๐Ÿ™‚
  15. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    12 Apr '10 21:40
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I agree that non-existence is usually harder to prove, but that is a function of possible existences.
    Your claim that we must look everywhere is only true if God is defined as existing in an unknown location, and having no known specific effect on a known location.
    For example, if God is defined as being a little green man in my fridge, then I need only ...[text shortened]... ll, then I need only prove the existence of one unhappy person to prove his non-existence.
    etc
    Well, suppose I say that the LGM in your fridge is only visible when the door is closed? (I believe you touched on this before with your “invisible pink unicorn” example.) So, every time you open the fridge door, the little fella simply becomes invisible…

    This is an example of the problems of falsification once the supernatural (extra-natural) category is brought into things. The possibility of falsification (or defeasibility) is simply—de facto—denied by fiat.

    Absent admission of such a supernatural category, it seems perfectly reasonable to conclude—after X number of look-sees—that absence of evidence can, in some cases, be taken as evidence of absence. This might not be proof at the level of certainty, but it would certainly seem to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt, or by preponderance of (non-) evidence.

    That is, I do not see how the absence of evidence in such a case can be taken to warrant a reasonable belief in LGMs that reside in the refrigerator dimension. Nor do I see how invocation of the “supernatural” can, of itself, offer such warrant.
Back to Top