Christians, myself included, have often argued that no one can know that God does not exist for one cannot prove a negative without knowing all things and being an omniscient being oneself. However, atheists’ counter that they believe in nothing and Christians believe in something, therefore the Christian has the burden of proof of proving God’s existence. They also counter that it is lame to assert that just because you can’t prove God doesn’t exist ought to follow in accepting that He must exist.
Of first importance, I never intend for anyone to believe God exist simply because there is no evidence to prove He does not exist. The argument often presented, that one cannot prove a negative, is simply meant to show that maybe there is reason to at least consider His existence based on a multiplicity of supporting evidence. It is not the end all argument that closes the debate and expects the atheist to all of the sudden accept the existence of the Christian God.
However, this business about atheist having nothing to support because they believe in nothing and therefore the Christian, asserting something supernatural, must be the only one who defends that proposition is not completely fair.
I agree that I hold the greater burden of proof as one who claims to know, not only that God exists, but to know Him personally. I do not profess to know all that He is, for I am not omniscient. But I do profess to have a tangible relationship with Him. Therefore, I carry a great deal of the burden of showing unbelievers whether atheists or otherwise.
That being said, it is still important for the atheist to assert a reasonable defense for the application of their worldview to reality. How does it answer the problem of evil in the world? How does it give credence to the existence of good in the world? How does it answer our need for justice and moral judgment? How does it answer our ability to reason?
I challenge people from any worldview and any stream of worldviews to answer these questions and check their worldview with reality. Does it work practically? Does it line up with what is real? I’ve been answering these questions on my blog from the Christian worldview. I challenge others to do the same from their worldview to add to the exchange of ideas and to sharpen our thinking.