C. David Ragland, Jr.
January 17, 2016
We Positively Can Prove a Negative
Atheists who assert that no deities exist often try to avoid supporting this claim. When challenged tosupport this assertion, such an Atheist will often claim that one cannot prove a negative. Moreover, many hold that this assertion is a ‘law of logic’. The law of non-contradiction, which asserts that a proposition cannot be both true and untrue, is itself a provable negative. Morever, I know of no professional logician who holds to the view that negatives cannot be proven.
Is not the law of non-contradiction a negative? It asserts that a proposition cannot be both true and untrue. As an example, I can say, “There are no married bachelors”. To argue otherwise would be a logical contradiction and a violation the aforementioned law.
Let’s consider the following arguments . . .
P1 – If a negative cannot be proven, the Law of Non-Contradiction is false
P2 – The Law of Non-Contradiction is not false
C – Therefore, you can prove a negative (see acknowledgments)
We also have:
1) Either the Law of Non-Contradiction is false, or you can prove a negative.
2) The Law of Non-Contradiction is true.
3) You can prove a negative.
So, are we prematurely laying claim to a potent argument here? Will someone come along and say, “Hey, you can’t just compose a syllogism or two and run! You gotta prove your premises!” Well, someone just might say that. Yet it’s arguably a fool’s errand to demand (or try and provide) proof for all premises and foreseeable sub-premises ad infinitum. Besides, the issue really isn’t that complex and, therefore, we needn’t labor any further to make our point.
As Apologists, we provide reasons for our faith in Christ as well as the substrata of our Christian belief structure. Should not the Atheist be required do so as well? Is it not true that the criteria for a belief is to have a suitable justification for it? After all, the Atheist does claim to believe there is no God. In doing so, he openly admits to holding to a belief that is demonstrably irrational. If one is going to claim there is no God, he ought to prove it or stop calling himself an Atheist.
The ‘disjunctive syllogism’ was provided by a fellow Christian Apologist. Mitchell Thomas Rowe is currently a Biochemistry student as Central Michigan University and a bane to Anti-theists! You can find him on Facebook