[ Author Bio ]
In Chapter Four of Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis, Keith Parsons defends the dictum that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence as part of a general critique of miracle claims which aims to defend naturalism as a rational operating philosophy against potential defeaters. In this defense of miracle claims Don McIntosh argues, first, that for any unknown the burden of proof falls equally upon naturalists and supernaturalists; second, to repudiate all miracle claims in one fell swoop with a mere presumption of naturalism renders naturalism unfalsifiable and unscientific; and third, estimating the prior probability of miracles introduces an element of subjectivity that makes any general probabilistic argument against them suspect. These points leave open the possibility of confirming specific miracle claims on the basis of historical evidence and eyewitness testimony.
Many Christians maintain that, in principle, atheists can never "prove the negative" that God does not exist. But atheists often regard this objection as a mere quibble, counterclaiming that the burden of proof rests solely upon the believer who has claimed knowledge of a supernatural being. In "Proving a Negative" Richard Carrier argues that proving the nonexistence of God is actually relatively easy, making passing appeals to the role of evidence in epistemology and the presumed incoherence of Christian theology. But in taking this position Carrier has assumed a substantial burden of proof, a burden that his arguments fail to meet.
In this response to Don McIntosh's "Transcending Proof," Richard Carrier explains how McIntosh does not actually address the logic or arguments Carrier makes in his "Proving a Negative," and updates its logical structure to make the same point using Bayesian epistemology.