Is the Maxim ‘You Can’t Prove a Universal Negative’ True?


The whole “can’t prove a negative” might be just an excuse used by anti-theists that want proof on their terms.

Hellenistic Christendom

Just by reading the title I hope you as the reader can tell before we even start our discussion that the above statement contradicts itself. For, if the proposition “You cannot prove a universal negative” is in fact true, then we do have one example where a universal negative has been proven.

However, I brought up this question for a few reasons. One of these reasons are most notably observed in apologetic conversations regarding the existence of God. As such, the “universal negative” assertion can flow from exchanges like the one below:

  • Person A: I heard that unicorns ate all the seeds in the backyard.
  • Person B: There is no such thing as unicorns.
  • Person A: What do you mean?
  • Person B: Unicorns in fact do not exist.
  • Person A: How do you know that? Can you prove that they don’t exist?
  • Person B: Well, not really. But you…

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