The late Carl Sagan used to say that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.
What makes something an “extraordinary claim”? For Sagan, a humanist and freethinker, the reality of the supernatural, of supernatural religion or of anything outside the scientific consensus was an extraordinary claim.
I think this is perfectly reasonable. I, too, have made up my mind about certain things, and it would take extraordinary evidence to shake my conviction.
But for a great many people, it is atheism that makes the extraordinary claim and must assume the burden of proof. They include:
- People who are committed to certain religious practices and disciplines because they find them a good way to live.
- People who’ve had transcendent spiritual experiences, and find the religion is a way to make sense of those experiences.
- People who find that religious practices help them to deal with their troubles. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous and other…
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