On “You Can’t Prove A Negative”

by Marc Gaerlan

A common reply that many atheists give when asked about evidence for atheism is “you can’t prove a negative”. Does this response have any validity? Using reason and critical thinking we’re going to look at three things that (ironically) point to the negative.

First, the negative is proven, or attempts are made to prove the negative thousands, if not millions of times every day. In courts around the world lawyers defend clients who have been accused of a crime. The defense lawyer either attempts to prove that their client is not the person who committed the crime, or attempts to prove that a crime was not committed, the alleged crime does not exist–proving the negative.

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Second, an atheist who actively brings up objections to theism is in effect trying to prove atheism–trying to prove the negative. So we see then that the argument “you can’t prove a negative” either comes from a mistaken account of previous actions or is disingenuous.

Third, for the atheist who doesn’t argue objections to theism, (but not exuding the atheist who does) but merely says in defense of their atheism “you can’t prove a negative”, that atheist then is committing the logical fallacy of begging the question because they have accepted the conclusion “there is no God” because they have already accepted the premise–without proof–”there is no God”. So their atheism is then in fact based on circular reasoning…

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