Quote of the Day 12-14-14 (Fred Woodworth)

Posted: December 14, 2014 in Atheism, Philosophy, Quotations, Religion
Tags: , , , ,

“Let’s get a certain point straight here once and for all, shall we? Yes you can, under many circumstances, prove a negative. You can do it when definitions are tight enough and when conditions are specific enough. For instance, anyone reading this magazine can prove instantly that the Declaration of Independence is not printed on page 13 of this issue. How? They turn to page 13 and look. It’s when assertions become more and more general that they become more and more difficult to disprove. If somebody says that Jesus Christ is standing on the corner of Speedway and Alvernon dispensing tea in paper cups, all you have to do to prove it’s not so is to go there and check . . . If somebody says that Jesus Christ is dispensing tea on an unnamed street corner in this city, you have a larger number of places you have to look before the idea percolates down through your little mind that, gosh, it may not be so after all.

“If some whacko bellows that Jesus Christ is somewhere in the entire universe, can you prove that he isn’t? Strictly speaking, no. On the other hand, you don’t have to; as specificity departs, a claim becomes more and more extraordinary, and as it does so another philosophical rule takes hold, which is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

“Lacking that extraordinary proof, we can maintain that there is no such god as the religionists claim.”

–Fred Woodworth (publisher of The Match!), American Atheist, February 1984

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