Whoa There!


In arguing against materialism, one of the more common objections I’ve encountered has been a demand that I offer undeniable proof (to someone intent on denying) of my exact position before anything I say should be taken seriously.

This has come from enough people that I think it is worth mentioning the three main reasons why this is wrong-headed.

First is the simple fact that this is shifting the burden of proof.

The type to attempt this maneuver, of course, is likely to balk at that. Many see the burden of proof as something the theist alone has. But this is only when we are considering theism. When we’re looking at materialism, it is the materialist who has it.

Part of me suspects that there are many materialists so used to defaulting to the “give me evidence” response, that they literally don’t know what else to do. This is fine, so long as one is willing to learn. It is only with those that dig in their heels and demand that there is never a time when they need to support their position that it is a serious problem.

Second, this is off topic.

Whether or not I’m right about other matters has nothing to do with the current topic. I think we all grasp this on issues where we are more neutral. Someone who believes there are twenty provinces in Canada might still be right to say that hydrogen bonding is vital to life. It takes the fervor of controversy and passion to blind us into a kind of tribalism, where anyone who believes “those things” can’t possibly be right about anything.

Many of the people making this objection don’t even know my actual position, and actually have to ask me what it is in order to mock it. (Others simply start mocking what they think my position is–and are nearly always wrong.)

Third would be the fact that I am offering exactly what is requested: reasons to believe my claims.

I’ve now encountered quite a few people who, out of impatience, start demanding that I get from pure materialism to belief in a very specific understanding of Christianity in the span of a blog post. They often say things like “just give me your proof of Christianity, then we’ll talk about my view”.

I’ve tried explaining that there are quite a few steps, and, more pertinently, that the reasons to reject materialism is one of those steps. As such, these people are actually claiming “I reject the first part of your argument because you haven’t already proven to me that the whole thing is true in the space of a paragraph”.

But it doesn’t do any good to ask for reasons to believe something if one doesn’t understand logic any better than this. It’s always easy to reject the final steps if one hasn’t bothered to look at the opening which supports them.

Those who are willing to consider that opening will find that there are reasons posted here. They may agree or disagree with those reasons, but realize that they are there and need to be understood in order to disagree rationally.

What are your thoughts?

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