I wanted to put this question out there to see how strongly everyone feels on this subject. Being that most of us trust in scientific fact and reasoning, I was wondering if everyone is absolutely, undeniably, 100% sure that a god doesn't exist.  I personally take into account that there is no proof of any cosmic creator so therefore I am about 99.9999% sure that there is no god. However we all agree that science is an ever evolving field and I don't think that there will ever be any proof to support the existence of a supreme being, but I can't be 100% sure until there is concrete proof against one. I would like to know what all of your thoughts on this.  

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Defined in what way? Beings that cannot be defined or have supernatural qualities do not have the necessary character to be subject to proof and therefore cannot exist. A being defined in such a way as to not lend itself to proof by reduction to perceptual evidence via logic cannot exist. It is proof enough to say that the impossible is impossible. I think that should be self evident and leaving any room for this epistemologically or metaphysically is irrational.

Defined as an intelligence or conscious or force or energy or however the hell smug people who say "I dont believe in a white man in a beard in the sky" define their god.  Something like that could theoretically exist without being measurable or testable with any current technology we have or will have any time soon. I don't at all believe that it does.

I totally believe in intelligence.
I totally believe in consciousness.
I totally believe in forces (gravity, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear).
I totally believe in energy.

Wow! I'm very excited!

Just one thing... these things are not deities. They don't actually qualify for the job description. I think you need a little more work on your proposal. What else ya got?
Yeah, what VW said. If it cannot be defined, or if it is defined with supernatural abilities or omniscience or omnipotence, or as the creator of all things or based on a metaphor or anything else impossible, it is impossible. For sure. If it subject to causal law, we can study it and demonstrate at least one of its concrete aspects of identity to talk about with knowledge. If you do not agree with this, then you are agnostic, not atheist. Even if you think there is a very very very small chance of God existing, it is greater than zero and you become a minitheist, or barelytheist or nanotheist or infinitesmotheist, but not a nontheist.

Thiest- One who believes in God.

Athiest- One who does not believe in God. I actually prefer 'one who knows there is no God'.

Theology- The study of the nature of God and religious truth (it's hard to even write).

Atheological- Well, you get the point.


In what universe does the impossible have even a small chance to exist?

Atheism is a statement about belief.


Agnosticism is a statement about knowledge.


They are related to each in much the same way as knowledge and belief are but knowledge is not belief, nor is vice versa.

An interesting and important semantic distinction. Thank you.

Of course, it is possible to at least claim belief without knowledge. And obviously possible to at least claim to reject belief, or even lack the capacity to process the knowledge that would warrant rational belief, even when it is present.

In some cases, even when data is available to afford 100% certainty, there are those who are so wed to not permitting/admitting 100% certainty in their minds that they are actually close-minded to the idea that it is possible to be 100% certain.

You can recognize such people when they say that they believe there is a possibility (small as it might be) that a self-contradictory concept can exist in reality... that there is a small possibility that 2+2 does not equal 4... or that it not only equals 4, but simultaneously does not equal 4.

This is another version of disproving a positive, not proving a negative.


You're simply mixing belief and knowledge.


You're mistaking the action or location of an object for the proof of the existence of the object, and they're not the same thing.


Volcanoes exist, lucky charms exist - they just don't exist in your hotel room or kitchen presently, they nevertheless exist.


Forget all your arguments about volcanoes spewing in hotel rooms or kitchens - just try something simple like proving the non-existence of something.


Simply try to describe the process for proving that talking, blue diamonds do not exist. - without saying there's no evidence of them.

No. Russell did not ask anyone to prove there are no teapots. He requested proof that there are no teapots orbiting the sun.

You can't have it both ways.
Park, now you are doing all of Willa's work for her.

You've chosen to use inductive reasoning to prove there are no unicorns, and that won't get you to 100% certainty. I could simply assert that unicorns don't like the parking lot you staked out. You must stake out every parking lot. And if you do, I'll just assert that they migrate from lot to lot. And if you have the manpower to stake them all out at once, I'll just assert that they are shy and though they prefer parking lots, will make do with deep forests, eating wildflowers, rather than put up with humans.

All this is why, when attempting to prove a negative, it is important to get the asserter to be as specific as possible about the thing they are asserting. If you are on trial for murder and the prosecutor asks your alibi, and you say "I was out," he will not launch an argument of induction, conclude that he can't prove you weren't "out" and forfeit the case.

But, in a debate such as this, an opponent as bright as Willa will not do your work for you and she'll feed you premises that, if you buy, will lead you right where you are. Notice that she said, "Try something simple like..." When the simpler the assertion is, the harder it is to either prove or disprove. You need it to be more complicated, obviously, because the more complex it is, the more detail and the greater chance you will have enough information to avoid the induction argument in favor of a deductive one.

In the case of the pink unicorn, Steven D. Hales has this to say (http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05/):
"You can easily construct a valid deductive argument with all true premises that yields the conclusion that there are no unicorns. Here’s one, using the valid inference procedure of modus tollens (Latin for “mode that affirms by denying”):
If unicorns had existed, then there is evidence in the fossil record.
There is no evidence of unicorns in the fossil record.
Therefore, unicorns never existed."

Of course, Willa might simply ask, "and when did the fossil record become a complete history of life on Earth?" or "And what of the fossil records of the Andromeda Galaxy?" or some such. Deductive reasoning will have to go a bit further than this to arrive at 100% certainty... or, simpler, question the person asserting the claim so as to issue forth greater detail so that the reasoning can be tighter. Get them to narrow their claim to "unicorns on the earth" or that they lived during the jurassic, or that they are behind me mocking me at this moment... until you have enough to arrive at 100% certainty without requiring NASA's involvement. Or until they offer something contradictory so that you only need to call bullshit.

Note that those arguing these points are merely trying to replicate the slipperiness with which theists argue the existence of God. They will give you insignificant details... but they are often just red herrings. Who cares if the unicorn is pink? Who even cares if the elephant is pink? But there is a key difference: I can paint an elephant pink. No big deal. Voila, there's a pink elephant. But try painting a unicorn.

And there is a key difference between a unicorn and God. Though fictional, a unicorn is a coherent concept. We all know that it is basically a horse with a horn growing out of its forehead. We can all visualize it. The premise is not self-contradictory. The properties of the unicorn do not prohibit its existence.

God, however, is not a coherent concept and the properties of the proposed being prohibit its existence. Even if we stick with a deist point of view that God created existence and now does not interfere, we need not search existence for God in order to disprove his existence, for it would be quite impossible for any such being to be in existence prior to the creation of existence itself. Since such a deity is self-contradictory, we disprove it without batting an eye, let alone staking out a potentially infinite multiverse.

Of course, as theists pile even more properties upon God, it gets even easier to disprove. An omnipotent, omnibenevolent God is disproven by a stroll through a children's cancer ward or a brief scan of the daily newspaper. A being who cares profoundly about everyone and has the power to make them all happy would certainly not watch cancer destroy a child. Therefore, such a God cannot exist. Everything from a paper cut, to an earthquake offers proof on proof.

As for Willa's talking blue diamonds, I don't disbelieve in them any more than pink elephants. Just as I can paint an elephant pink, I can imagine rigging a blue diamond (blue diamonds really exist) with a tiny processor and speaker so that it talks.

However, if she is to further assert that the blue diamond has no such aids or electronics and is actually capable of speech, then the task at hand is simple.

Natural speech, without electronic synthesis, requires the passing of air over a structure like a larynx. Diamonds do not possess such structures and even if they were hollowed out, would not possess the soft bellows-like tissue (lungs for example) necessary to move the air in and out. More importantly, speech is impossible without a brain to control the process and stimulate the topic in the first place. As diamonds do not contain such fatty tissues necessary to form a brain, they are further incapable of speech. Hence, there are no talking diamonds.

It is not enough to say, "I have never seen a talking diamond or heard any reports of one, therefore they do not exist." And it is impractical to quest thoughout the universe surveying for talking blue diamonds. Yet it is simple to examine the properties claimed, see that they are contradictory, and rightly conclude with 100% certainty that they cannot, therefore, exist.

And if you ever do see what appears to be a talking diamond, a proper examination will reveal that it does not qualify under our commonly accepted definition (this from Webster):
a : native crystalline carbon that is the hardest known mineral, that is usually nearly colorless, that when transparent and free from flaws is highly valued as a precious stone, and that is used industrially especially as an abrasive;also : a piece of this substance
And yes, we all know that the burden of proof is logically, and as a matter of manners, on the person asserting the claim. However, this is not always a useful tactic. If I really wish to claim "there is no God," I had better be able to do better than that. As I have.

This usually leaves people asserting that God is something other than an oxymoron. They do this by asserting that God is love. This is easily handled by rejecting the premise. I believe in love, but love is not, in itself, a deity. Or they will claim some pantheistic nonsense, that God is their name for the universe. Fine. I can name my goldfish "God" and there we have it. I can assert that the world is full of Gods by saying that I define God as people or insects or molecules or atoms.

Semantics is the key to strong debate. You will know when you are being effective with semantics when your opponent says, "That's just semantics!" as if to spin an argument from intimidation off the weakness of implied negative connotation. And if you are intimidated into accepting that false premise, you've lost already.

As we arrive at a position of atheism about Odin, Zeus, and individual god after god, we do well to notice the common traits of gods... ie, the definitive property that qualifies a proposed being as actually being a god... and then recognizing that this property is contradictory and actually prohibits actual existence. Then we may assert that there is no god. Or even, "there are no gods out there anywhere."

Hello Vince,


Ivory Soap Non-Theist here.  (Yes, I find it hilarious so I'm taking on the label)  I've been reading more about this 'not being able to prove a negative' thing - more specifically the link that you posted here.  I'm baffled.  If you can find the time, I would like to hear your opinion on the following:


Mr. Hales stated: For one thing, a real, actual law of logic is a negative, namely the law of non-contradiction. This law states that that a proposition cannot be both true and not true. Nothing is both true and false.


I can think of at least 3 different examples of how a proposition can both be true and not true at the same time.  All of them are primarily based on perception - which is a major facet of obtaining scientific data.


1)  Taiwan   I'd say 'enough said' but by stating the proposition: Taiwan is a member of the Peoples' Republic of China (PRC).  This is both true and false depending on different individual's perspective.


2)  Objects at rest.  (Newton's first law)  The cup on my desk is at rest; however, it is also in motion because the earth is in motion.  [I'll expound on this but only if you're interested.]


3)  In responding to the proposition 2+2=4, I would hope a reasonable response would be:  From what observable data do the numbers 2 and 2 come; and for what is the number 4 being used?  This proposition/equation/tool-of-math is far too over-generalized to be of any use (much like the word God) without exposing the source of measurement and its application.  Did some observer originally measure 2.0000000001 and another 2.0000000002, determine the units are used only in feet, then round off?  The answer 4 is true.  The rounding is accurate if we're moving the aforementioned cup 2 ft then another 2 ft guranteeing a 4 ft result.  But if the rounded 2's are used in a complex project to account for a 4 ft shift if we're sending the cup 20 light years away, that would be a different perspective where the 4.0000000003 ft would be important.


Most importantly, (if I'm so far off the mark that you simply don't have the time to even begin educating me on the errors of my way) I must know:  What on earth do you have against Ivory Soap?  I've used the products for years and they're awesome!


Thanks in advance.

None of the examples you gave are both objective and contradictory... as you well know.

I didn't say 2.000000000001. I said 2.

Ivory soap is 99 44/100s percent pure... hence those who say they aren't 100% certain are Ivory soap atheists. I thought it was funny, but concur that Ivory soap is a fine product.


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