Can you prove a negative?
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Slavery is unethical.
- Slavery increases total human unhappiness
- Slavery exploits and degrades human beings
- Slavery violates human rights
One of the most common angles that atheists (which this debate-maker is not) use is 'you can't prove that God doesn't exist so we don't need to prove a lack of correlation in order to conclude there isn't a God'. This debate's creator has issue with that and wanted to see what her supporters and opposition bring on this angle that atheist's take (which I agree, is a cop-out).
What you're trying to do is called false extrapolation. You're de-contextualizing the question from the real contexts you wish to apply it to. In general, a negative can be proven if the negative is in regards to tangible concepts, for instance, "I am NOT wearing black jeans". But it's false to try to broaden the question: "can I prove the existence of something which isn't readily apparent or is immaterial, such as God" into "can you prove a negative", because with this context, the answer is definitely no.
Then it becomes a matter of probabilities. What's more likely: that your fairytales are real and everything science has proven to humanity is just a gigantic conspiracy, or that you're out of your fucking mind?
I'll go with the latter, I think.
I am assuming that we are discussing the problem of proving a negative in the absence of empirical evidence. (The standard example is proving/disproving the existence of god.)
We CAN prove logically that some things cannot exist because the definition/description of what they are is a logical impossibility, e.g., something that is simultaneously two opposites.
Physical/corporeal things (things that exist in the universe)
We cannot prove logically that something does not have existence within the universe.
The problem with trying to prove that something does not exist anywhere in the universe is that is always the possibility that it (or evidence of it) just has not been any of the places you looked.
The lack of empirical evidence is the crux of the matter.
To prove something exists, one need only point to whatever empirical evidence that is the by-product of the thing's existence.
However, what if you do not have clear evidence?
The problem with proving a negative is that there is no evidence that is a by product of non-existence.
It could be the case that the thing exists, and that there is evidence somewhere, but you just do not have it.
It could be the case that the reason you have no evidence is that the thing does not exist.
You have no way to determine which is the case. All you know is you have no evidence.