Nontheism Atheism Evidentialism


Do Atheists Bear a Burden of Proof? A Reply to Prof. Ralph McInerny (1997) by Keith M. Parsons

Parsons rebuts Prof Ralph McInerny’s claim that the burden of proof should fall on the unbeliever.

Is Atheism Presumptuous? A Reply to Paul Copan (2000) by Jeffery Jay Lowder

Lowder refutes Paul Copan’s claim that Antony Flew’s ‘presumption of atheism’ is itself presumptuous.

The Presumption of Atheism Revisited (2020) by Charles Echelbarger

Whether deserved or not, Antony Flew acquired a reputation for wrongheadedly using Karl Popper’s falsifiability criterion against theological statements such as “God exists” or “God loves us.” He also famously maintained that God debates should proceed under a presumption of atheism, with theistic debaters bearing the entire burden of proof while atheistic debaters simply tore down their arguments. In this paper Charles Echelbarger aims to make sense of why Flew seemed to be opposed to atheist debaters bearing a burden of proof by additionally offering positive arguments for atheism. Echelbarger concludes that a presumption of atheism may be justified if an atheist debater provides justified doubts that “God exists” expresses a proposition that could be true or false at all, such as if the concept of God definitionally includes the incoherent notion of an agent that acts outside of time. Theological statements may be unfalsifiable precisely because they possess such undetected conceptual incoherence. Though flawed in presentation, Flew’s basic insight is more important than has often been acknowledged, and it is still highly relevant to current discussions in the philosophy of religion.