By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
I bought a book recently entitled, "Critical Thinking" which is a popular text in colleges on logic--how to think carefully and reasonably. At 5 am, while in the gym on the bike, it was a curious coincidence that I opened the book randomly to a discussion re: 'burden of proof' in an argument. What blew me away was the example given...it woke me up!! It was a section entitled "Misplacing the Burden of Proof" Below is a verbatim quote and it mentions ghosts.
Before I proceed, I want to say that 'Critical thinking" has been a love of mine for 40 years, and have done graduate work in logic at UNC-CH. I also started Caldwell Academy in GSO and designed their logic curriculum...as well as "Greensboro Academys".
Affirmative/negative. Other things being equal, the burden of proof falls automatically on those supporting the affirmative side of an issue rather than on those supporting the negative side. In other words, we generally want to hear reasons why something IS the case before before we require reasons why it is NOT the case....This rule applies to existence versus non-existence, too. Most often, the burden of proof should fall on those who claim something exists rather than on those who claim it doesn't. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE IN GHOSTS, NOT BECAUSE OF ANY EVIDENCE THAT THERE ARE GHOSTS. BUT BECAUSE NOBODY HAS SHOWN THAT THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS (when someone claims that we should believe in such-and-such because nobody has proved that it isn't so, we have a subtype of burden of proof known as an APPEAL TO IGNORANCE.) This is a burden-of-proof fallacy because it mistakenly places the requirement of proving their position on those who do do not believe in ghosts. (Critical Thinking. 8th ed. 2007, Moore, Parker..pg 187....emphasis added)
This is NOT a Christian text by any means. However, I almost fell out of my stationary bike when I read this at 5 am! The first time I opened the book, the above is what I had turned to. Logic/critical thinking rules are subordinate to Scripture, but since Jesus is the Logos/Logic, then we must realize that Jesus wove logic into the fabric of reality. Aristotle did not create logic, he simply 'discovered' and categorized what the Logos had intertwined into the warp and woof of reality.
According to secular accepted rules of logic (in line with bible) any claims for existence of ghosts MUST assume burden of proof. That has profound implications for--A calling non-believers in ghosts "fundamentalist"in derogatory way. B more importantly, ANY claims of apparitional humans have burden of proof. There is an arrogance toward the "all paranormal is demonic", but in reality they are bumping against reality and logic.The bible clearly affirms the existence of two types of angels--good and bad. There is an unending enumeration of alleged spirit entities by those not guided by the bible. Now they must see that logic itself opposes them.
If you believe in ghosts in ANY form (other than biblical examples), the burden of proof lies squarely upon your shoulders.
In conclusion, if one responds by saying that there is an abundance of evidence for the existence of ghosts via EVP, sightings, etc, then that is another fallacy--circular reasoning. One has to assume the existence of ghosts, to interpret those experiences as being evidence of ghosts. Christians have to bow before the authority of God's Word, which makes clear that Satan is the great deceiver.
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.