Like many of my latest (sporadic) blog posts this is spawned by Twitter. Specifically I saw this amusing picture on twitter:
This was in a tweet which was a response to this article by internet Christian apologist WinteryKnight, who is largely citing William Lane Craig.
This is a topic that comes up every so often in atheism, about whether or not we can “prove” god does not exist.
I’ve personally gone back and forth on my views on this question, and I currently find myself putting a foot in both camps. Lately, it’s become a position among a good number of people I greatly respect and converse with to say that “of course we can prove god does not exist”, which is usually followed with a sensible amount of words that go on to qualify that with something to the effect of “for any reasonable definition of prove”. This typically involves pointing out that we don’t need something incoherent like “absolute certainty” in order to say “we know there is no god”.
In many respects, I find this kind of argument by my fellow atheists compelling. On the other hand, I feel this kind of discussion is misused by many apologists, and it glosses over the very real problem underlying the argument behind the idea that we can’t prove a universal negative like “god does not exist”.
Let me first state that the very simply “you can’t prove a universal negative” is strictly false. Universal statements like this are very hard to get correct, which is a precursor into this sort of problem. Let's look at exactly why this is the case, per the article.