In my critique of Jonathan Pearce I noted that atheists like Pearce and Loftus:
“like to try presenting debates of this sort as if the burden of proof is borne by the theist. But that’s false. If the theist is attempting to argue that we ought to be theists the atheist is attempting to argue that we ought not be theists (or, more strongly, that we ought to be atheists),”
John Grove replied:
“Of course the burden is laid at the feet of theists, are you kidding me? “The philosophical burden of proof or onus (probandi) is the obligation on a party in an epistemic dispute to provide sufficient warrant for their position. When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. If this responsibility or burden of proof is shifted to a critic, the fallacy of appealing to ignorance is committed.””
The funny thing is that John’s unsourced quote supports my contention. In a debate, both sides are attempting to argue for a position. When the topic of resolution is “To be resolved: God exists” the theist is arguing for the proposition and the atheist (or agnostic or whatever) is arguing against it. The theist’s burden of proof is to argue for the proposition and show that her opponent has failed to provide adequate arguments against it. The burden of proof of the atheist (or agnostic or whatever) is to argue against the proposition and show that his opponent has failed to provide adequate arguments for it.
Of course this would be flipped around if the topic of resolution was “To be resolved: God does not exist.” In this case the atheist would be presenting the positive case for the proposition (i.e. to argue that the proposition is true) while the theist would be arguing the negative case (i.e. to argue that the proposition is false). But both have burdens of proof.
So no Mr. Grove, I’m not “kidding” you.