Before we move on to theodicies, a last word on burden of proof might be helpful. While it seems quite obvious to nearly everyone that the burden of proof rests on the person making an argument, some atheists are still resisting the idea that they bear the burden of proof when they claim that the Argument from Evil proves the non-existence of God. As a final point, I would add the following to my previous arguments.
Consider a dialogue between a hypothetical atheist and his theist opponent.
ATHEIST: I can prove that God doesn’t exist! I’ve got the “Argument from Babies”!
THEIST: I’m not quite familiar with that one.
ATHEIST: It’s simple. Babies are gross and annoying. They throw up all the time. They fill up their diapers with all sorts of disgusting substances. They scream and cry while people are trying to sleep. They can’t take care of themselves or anyone else, so they’re completely useless. It’s obvious that God would never have created babies or a world that has babies in it. Hence, God doesn’t exist.
THEIST: I have to confess that I like babies. But even if I didn’t, I still wouldn’t think that you can defend this argument. If you want me to agree with you, you’ll have to show me that your argument actually proves what you say it proves. Let’s see your case.
ATHEIST: No problem! Here’s my argument:
1. If God exists, babies would not exist.
2. Babies exist.
3. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
That’s straightforward Modus Tollens. What could be simpler?
THEIST: Well, now you’ll have to show that your first premise is true. And you’ll need to defend your claims against my criticisms.
ATHEIST: Not at all! Andrea Weisberger and John Loftus say that the theist always bears the burden of proof. Since you’re the one saying that God exists, which is like saying that there are invisible green gremlins in microchips, you have to show that my argument doesn’t work!
The difficulty here should be obvious. According to Weisberger, arguments for atheism get a free pass. That is, we should simply assume that they prove their conclusion until the theist proves otherwise. But this is just silly. Would we say that the onus of proof lies with the theist when an atheist presents his Argument from Babies? Would the theist also bear the burden of proof if the atheist makes an "Argument from Twinkies"? This would be absurd, yet it follows from Weisberger's claim.
The point here is a simple one. Unless the atheist shows that a certain argument has true premises and valid logic, that it is free from ambiguous terms and unproven assumptions, and that it successfully resists criticism, why should anyone assume that the argument proves anything?
The only reasonable position to take on the matter seems to be the one I’ve advocated all along, but which atheists so adamantly resist. The person making the argument bears the burden of proof. If the proponent of an argument happens to be an atheist, the world can hardly be expected to grant him special epistemological privileges on that account. (Note: The significance of this fact will become apparent as we discuss theodicies.)