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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Proof of God Burden

UPDATED Thru May 26,2017 , May 30, 2017 

For competing beliefs who has the burden of proof ? 

This post is not about proving or disproving a particular belief. It is about who shares the greatest burden of proof when it comes to competing beliefs. {ETA May 30, 2017 - On whom does the burden of proof fall more greatly on.}

The answer must consider at least the following:

1) Ranking  the burdens of proof.

2) The nature of the belief.

3) Null Hypothesis.

4) Consequences of the belief.

(ETA 5/28/2017 The 4 ‘principles’ I have outlined are not mutually exclusive but may work together. See below) 

Consider three people, call them T, AT, AG.

 Ranking  the Burdens of Proof

It is usually the case there is a scale of the burden of proof. This will become clear as you read this post.

The Nature of the Belief

a) The person making any claim of belief has at least some burden of proof.

Consider this question: Is mental telepathy real ?

T - I believe it is

AT - I believe it is not real. 

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

AG is making no claim of belief. It can be argued AG has the least burden of proof.

b) The more extraordinary the person’s belief  the more the burden falls on that individual.

Consider the belief that walking on the lines on concrete pavement causes bad luck. Then consider the belief that wealth is correlated with health.  The first belief would have a higher burden of proof than the latter belief. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on the first belief.}

Or consider this question: Is mental telepathy real ?

T - I believe it is

AT - I believe it is not real. 

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

Mental telepathy if real would require  rethinking much  of science. It is an extraordinary claim. The order of the burden of proof is T, then AT. AG is essentially neutral and so perhaps he has the least burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Another Example

Consider this question. Do you believe a man was 100% dead and after sometime rose from the grave.

T - I believe it.

AT - I do not believe it.

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

A 100% dead man coming back to life is an extraordinary claim. The order of the burden of proof is T, then AT. AG is essentially neutral and so perhaps he has the least burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on the T.}

Null Hypothesis

Typically when we do a study of the effectiveness of a new drug, the Null Hypotheses is the drug does not work. Then evidence is gathered to overturn the Null Hypothesis.
We don’t start with the Null Hypotheses that the drug does work and seek to overturn that Hypothesis.  In other words,  the burden of proof is laid on the person believing  the drug does work.

Did Humans evolve from prior primates ?

AT - I believe they did

T - I believe it did  not happen

AG - I have no belief on the matter

The Null Hypothesis is Humans Did not Evolve from Primates.

Using the typical Null Hypothesis approach, AT has the greatest burden of proof.  

Consequences of the Belief

Consider this:

A man is accused of murder.

T - I believe he did it.

AT - I don’t believe he did it.

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

Since a life is at stake, T has the greatest burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Conclusion 

Consider Orthodox Judaism (OJ)

T - I believe it is true

AT - I don’t believe it is true

AG - I have no opinion on the matter

Lets apply the principles I have outlined:

First: Is OJ an extraordinary belief ? I think everybody will agree it is. The greatest burden of proof is on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Second: The Null Hypothesis is OJ beliefs are not reality.  The greatest burden of proof falls on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Does belief in OJ have important consequences ? If you believe it, and especially if you follow OJ it can have  important consequences and enormous costs, including some extremely negative ones. Again the greatest burden of proof falls on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Some may argue the AT (if brought up as an OJ, call him ACJA) can potentially be  punished by G-d and so that also has consequences thus the greater burden of proof should fall on ACJA. However, that is a threat of punishment, and a threat of a potential consequence versus a real consequence. The latter is more compelling. In addition, other religions also have threats, some threats even worse than OJ  if ACJA don't follow those religions. Does ACJA have the burden of proof  to disprove every religion in the history of mankind ? Moreover, just like in the murder case a potential murderer may walk free, nevertheless, the burden of proof falls on T. 

Do god(s) exist ?

T - I believe so.

AT - I don’t believe so, 

AG - I have no belief on the matter.

Apply the principles I have outlined. 

First: Is belief in god(s) an extraordinary belief ? Something that can not be seen, heard, detected in the lab or by science, tasted, felt, smelled etc: would qualify as extraordinary. The greatest burden of proof is on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Second: The Null Hypothesis is god(s) are not reality.  The greatest burden of proof falls on T. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Third: Does belief in god(s)  have important consequences ? Such beliefs are almost always  associated with religions which are associated with other beliefs, rituals, laws etc: and if you follow the religion it  can have enormous  consequences and costs, including some extremely negative ones. Again the greatest burden of proof falls on T. (Also, see my comments on OJ above).{ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

Belief in god(s) and not any religion, something like Deism  would have fewer potential negative consequences unless it is used as a crutch to avoid learning about how nature works. 

{ETA May 28, 2017 The introduction mentioned the '4 principles' may interact.

For example: There is a man who can without any trickery walk on 10 foot deep water.

T - I believe it is true

AT - I don’t believe it is true

AG - I have no opinion on the matter.

Such an event is outside our everyday experience, miraculous even. Because it is so extraordinary the null hypothesis is the man does not walk on water.   T has the greatest burden of proof. {ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on T.}

The same reasoning would apply to belief in anything extraordinary and outside of everyday experience: Supernatural, souls, demons, angels, gods, devils,  life after death, etc: Because those beliefs are extraordinary the null hypothesis should be they all are false. Thus the greatest burden of proof falls on anybody who believes such things.}{ETA May 30, 2017 - The burden of proof falls more greatly on people who believe such things.}

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