Let's put this common refrain to rest~ something that I hear all the time in arguments concerning religion.  It goes something like this:

" Remember, you can't prove a negative!"

Really people?

This has become much more common, especially in the arguments amongst Atheists and agnostics concerning certainty, and it really puzzles me how people can be skeptical and free-thinkers, yet take to an idea so easily and not question it.  I will elaborate on this a little more once I have the time, but let me start all of those "can't prove a negative" types off with a question~ " I am not sitting at my desk."  Thats a negative claim.  Are you telling me that there is no way to confirm or disprove that?

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Matt, that's a fair criticism, but even if "you cannot prove a negative" isn't strictly self-negating because it does not contain its own disproof, it is a terrible axiom to adopt, since there are plenty of counterexamples to be had. Further, if it isn't strictly self-negating it heavily suggests that it isn't true. At minimum, people should not be blindly spouting it as though it were an obvious truth.

You do not understand what I mean by prove. To prove something exists, I need evidence. You don't. To prove a negative with evidence cannot be done because when your fruitless search ends, you can say the evidence is still yet to be found.

But if you prove with evidence that A exists, then not A is also proven by that evidence. So if you prove with evidence X, what would X have to be so that you prove god does not exist. X is a myth so far but I believe attainable.

We disagree on what proof is, on what Identity is, on what knowledge is, so I do not think being a troll in your opinion is such a bad thing. We have a very different view of the world and my view is as valid as yours.

I do not see where my "mistakes" are. I do agree that I have a belief that you cannot prove a negative. And you have not proven to me that your identities and priori knowledge are more than agreed upon definitions you call knowledge.

Cane, please! You say, "To prove something exists, I need evidence. You don't." This is simply not the case. Michael and I have repeatedly agreed with you that to prove something exists, you need evidence. Our assertion is that to prove something doesn't exist, you need only prove that it is logically contradictory/impossible. Can you truly not grasp the difference? Or are you doing this on purpose? Can you see why I have lost my patience with you? If you won't even bother to notice where we do actually agree, what is the point of discussion? At minimum, Cane, you need to get this distinction and apologize for putting words in our mouths.


And when you say, "We have a very different view of the world and my view is as valid as yours," this is simply postmodernist relativism, which is definitely logically self-negating. If all views are equally valid then so is the view that not all views are equally valid. If it's true it's false. One of us is wrong about certain areas of disagreement, and I'm inclined to think it's the one making up his own idiosyncratic definitions of things like logic and belief, rejecting more mainstream definitions. If you go around using home-grown definitions for common words, you are unlikely to properly understand the world, let alone make yourself understood by others.


Perhaps these two flagrant examples of your mistakes will give you some clue about why we are having such difficulty, but I'm not holding my breath.

Ok, I forgot that you agree with me on evidence being required to prove something exists. Mistake number one. I admit it.

I must also apologize for frustrating you folks. I am frustrated as well. We cannot seem to get our ideas across to each other, but I will try again.


What does not sit well with me is that you can prove (without evidence) that something contradictory is impossible. Logically and without evidence, you are just calling a definition wrong. I do not see how your contention that it is impossible really means anything. I agree that something contradictory to what it means to exist cannot exist itself, but that is a definition, not proof. I do not understand your definition of proof. For me, proof is provided by evidence.

Cane, you don't think it strange that you reject the entire class of logical proof? Mathematical proof, geometric proof? None of these things require evidence, only logical reasoning from axioms. To say these are not proofs is to simply disregard a standard definition of the word in favor of your own idiosyncratic definition. Why would you think that is acceptable?


Many things are disproven by definition. That's pretty much what we're talking about here. If you define things such that they contain logical contradictions, then they can't exist--they contain their own disproof within their definitions. Again, no evidence is required. You can call these "wrong definitions", but if these are the definitions that most people are using regarding these entities, then "wrong definitions" are the crux of the problem. Further, "wrong definitions", by definition, can't exist. It's silly to think that they might. If the gods worshipped by actual humans are illogical as the worshippers themselves define them, then whatever they are worshipping, it isn't what they think it is. They might be worshipping something else that could possibly exist, and maybe that is what you are saying, but they can't possibly be referring to a real entity with "wrong definitions".

I see a small indication that you understand me even though you do not agree with me. 

I would like to offer you my understanding of what a definition is and I would like you to compare it with your understanding of what identity is.

To me definitions are just descriptions that evidence could match or not.

I will tell you why I ask you this: I agree that something defined wrong cannot have matching evidence, so it can not and does not exist. Can I get to the same conclusions you arrive at with my understanding of definition as you do with your understanding of identity? If not, why not?

Or, you could look up some words in the dictionary, and use them the same way that everybody else uses them, and then we wouldn't have to translate back and forth from English to Cane-speak. You are really working way, way too hard at this, Cane.
Demonstrating that 10+11=21 is proof that 10+11 does not equal 35. Proof of a so-called negative by noncontradictory deductive reasoning. And demonstrating the nature of the electromagnetic spectrum and our interpretation of its differing wavelengths of light as colors is proof that things cannot be both all red and all blue at the same time. Proof is the reduction of an assertion to perceptual evidence. And that is what I have just done, both mathematically and semantically. I have shown that 10+11 cannot be 35, by showing that it can only be 21. And I have shown that things cannot be both red and blue simultaneously by demonstrating that it is the particular wavelength that gives a color and only a particular wavelength that gives a only particular color, change the wavelength, change the color and that light of a particular wavelength can only give one particular color.
And like Park suggests in the original post, I can prove that I am not in San Francisco, by proving that I am somewhere else. Or maybe there is actually a .0001% chance that I am not typing this right now and I'm really out playing baseball. After all, we cannot be certain I am typing this, right? Ridiculous.

Hey Michael,

You said; "Without identity, an idea cannot be integrated into a knowledge base without contradiction. One can certainly try. But if one is intellectually honest, they will recognize and acknowledge that the idea of god, which can have no concrete identity, cannot exist. Sure I am giving the concept of god an identity of omniscience and magic, but those are not compatible with reality, they are not concrete or real identities."


And I have to agree. But I must point out how I interpret your statements. Identity is concrete when there is evidence of its reality. A definition is concrete only when there is evidence of its reality.


If a thing exists, it has a concrete valid identity. To prove a thing exists, we must have evidence of its identity. But if something, by definition, has only contradictory characteristics for its identity, we do not need evidence of any kind (other than that necessary to build a knowledge base from the axioms of existence, consciousness and identity) to know that it doesn't exist.


A definition is a description of the characteristics of the thing being defined. If the definition is contrary to what it means to exist in our world, it is merely a wrong description. As far as it being not able to exist, is a logical but unimportant distinction. Saying that an idea, definition, identity, description is impossible is just saying it is incorrect. You may believe something is impossible, but you must also admit it is wrong. To believe something is impossible is not the same thing as proving it is impossible. 


You invoke evidence to prove that an identity of say an apple is real and that the apple exists, but you say that evidence is not necessary to prove that an identity is impossible. I say that scientifically (which requires evidence) there is no way to prove that something is non-existent. No matter how much you search for that identity, nothing says that it couldn't be that if you continued the search a little longer, or in a different way, you would have found the evidence.

Because I required evidence of an idea, I have to concede that I cannot prove a negative. You can prove a negative because you do not require evidence to prove that something is impossible. To me that means the idea that is being considered is wrong, not that an identity is impossible. To have an identity that is real and exists, evidence of it is required. Otherwise it is just an idea. So can an idea be impossible? You can believe it, but you can never really prove it.

Also, are ideas, not proven by evidence, knowledge? I put to you that people thought time was the same throughout reality. That a clock here on Earth would run at the same rate as one placed on the moon. That was logically accepted as true until evidence showed that Einstein's ideas that time rates are variable were in fact real descriptions of the universe. With this story, I want to show that something logically true does not mean it is real. To find something as being real, you need evidence. The idea of time being the same throughout reality is impossible (I call it wrong) because we found the right answer (or maybe just a better description of reality for the time being).

What have we found that would negate the idea of god? We have found a great deal of evidence that does not require a god. That does not negate the idea of god. If we discovered that the universe was created due to a process not yet known, that might negate the idea of God, but so far such a discovery has not been made.

My beliefs are as follows: Knowledge requires evidence, but belief does not require evidence. You have proved to me that you agree with my beliefs, but you say that what I call belief, you call knowledge.




Identity is concrete when it is particular in its character and known to be concrete when it is literal in the description of its essential character.

A dog is a 4 legged mammal that barks. Clear. Concrete. Possible. Real (well, real if I see evidence of it).

The soul, god, spirit and kharma do not have the requisite specific worldly concrete essential characteristics to be real or possible or verifiable. And therefore, I know that they cannot exist, because any and all definitions of them are either contradictory or acausal or metaphorical.

Identity is proved to exist, when evidence of it is demonstrated and integrated without contradiction. Things that are out there and not known about can have identity without anyone seeing evidence of it. But things that cannot possibly have evidence, lest the world would make no sense, do not require a scientific search to prove that they do not exist. So, in the same way that I know that 21+10 cannot equal 35, or that a leaf cannot freeze and burn at the same time, or that it cannot be all red or all blue, I know that god cannot and does not exist.

I can know that something is possible without seeing evidence for it. And I can know that something is impossible when its existence would negate the process of reason and logic I use to make and integrate concepts to begin with. For, if magic is possible, well, it's just not. Reality is causal and I need no more proof than this understanding to know that, for sure, the impossible is just that, impossible.

Definitions are simply the phonemes we attach to concepts. They are valid if they include only the essential characteristics of a thing.

If I scientifically verify my location in Chicago, this proves the negative that I am not in Miami. Invoking science for such an obviously simple thing should not be necessary. This demonstrates just how far gone you are, using science to prove something that a 5 year old has knowledge of and you apparently don't.

What kind of scientific experiment do you propose we set up to verify if bachelors are married or not? The identity of a bachelor is a man who is unmarried and the identity of a married person is that they are no longer 'single', which a bachelor must be, if he is to be a bachelor. So, if asked,"Hey Cane, did you know that bachelors aren't married?", you would respond, "No, but I believe it."?


What process would the existence of god negate? Well, first of all, none, because god can't exist and your question is an invalid counter-factual. And second, for the sake of this discussion, causality. Cognition depends on causal law. You cannot use the power of cognition, which depends on causality, to validly show that god is possible or in other words that cognition is not possible.

What process would the existence of god negate? Well, first of all, none, because god can't exist and your question is an invalid counter-factual. And second, for the sake of this discussion, causality. Cognition depends on causal law. You cannot use the power of cognition, which depends on causality, to validly show that god is possible or in other words that cognition is not possible.


You misread my post. I said we have proof of one thing that negates another. I was saying what process would negate the existence of god, not what would the existence of god negate.


As far as I can tell, you say you know something through the application of logic. I say it is only belief. So where we disagree is wholly around "what is knowledge?" You say it is the conclusions you come to through logic. I say they are just beliefs. So, to prove me wrong, give me a definition of knowledge that does not require evidence.






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