Originally Posted by Life_Is_Short
Does the author not know what a hypothesis is? A Hypothesis is a considered explanation for an observed behaviour of natural phenomena. Claiming 'God exists' or 'God does not exist' is not a hypothesis, but a claim.
At this very first stage, we run into problems. How do you define God? What definition of God do we use? I think the following definition would probably be acceptable to monotheists:
God is an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being.
Absolutely. Which is why I often casually consider myself an ignostic
. God as a term is often used confusingly, meaninglessly and without reason underpinning it.
Nonetheless it is up to the theists to 'define' God, and declare the attributes of this being they believe exists.
Our hypothesis thus becomes:
An omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being (does not) exist(s).
That's not a hypothesis, nor is it even my hypothesis (or claim). The article writer is either building up a big strawman here or talking to some hardheaded strong atheist.
Now, let me ask you... Just how on earth do you prove or disprove this hypothesis? If this being is omniscient — all-knowing — it will know we're looking for it. And if it is omnipotent — all-powerful — it can hide itself at will.
It is set up to be
unfalsifiable. There's always some 'exemption clause', a special plea, or some sort of inherent attribute of God that makes him outside of explanation, understanding or even consideration. This effectively means that at current time, God might as well not exist if he can so convincingly hide behind the curtains. God might as well be nothing if he does nothing.
Irrespectively, to put this position into perspective. If I was to claim that an immaterial object existed in my garden - it would have exactly
the same amount of evidential support for God. It would be just as detectable, just as observable and just as impervious to reason.
So what does this mean? It means that claims such as 'God exists', or 'God is beyond detection, beyond time, beyond our universe' have no meaning
whatsoever. They do not help advance our understanding of the universe, they provide no useful explanation to anything. They exist only as superficial explanations. Just because you set up some concept to be absolutely disprovable does not mean it is valid, quite the opposite. What can be claimed in absence of evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
The result is that unless this being chooses to reveal itself to us, it is impossible to prove or disprove the hypothesis, since the subject of our experiments will be able to manipulate the evidence at will. Some creationists when confronted with radiocarbon dating argue that God put the dinosaur bones in the ground and artifically backdated them, but in reality we were created 10,000 years ago.
Firstly, it is of note here that the author is perfectly comfortable to believe in a willfully deceptive god that hides evidence of his existence. Secondly, it is of note that the paragraph takes a suddenly arbitrary turn to talking about creationism - noting something about the creationist claim of embedded age being false.
If such is the case, how do you empirically and scientifically prove or disprove God? You definitely can't disprove him, because of this manipulation of the evidence, if there is a God.
Of course, if a God does exist and pretends like he does not exist - then he might as well not exist.
At the same time, you can't prove God's existence unless he comes out and issues a statement along the lines of "Hey guys, I'm God. See, I can prove it — I'll just turn this wine to water." Without such hard evidence, all the theists have left going for them is aphorisms like "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." (Intelligent design as a scientific theory is utter bunk — all the proofs of intelligent design are nothing more than critiques of evolutionary theory as it is currently understood, and don't in themselves prove that there is a higher being.)
I'm glad the author understands Intelligent design to be bunk and really just a thinly veiled anti-evolutionary movement more concerned with the impact they think it has on a literal reading of the Bible, and the passive effects on society because of that.
I don't think so. I think there is actually a subtle beauty in our inability to prove God's existence empirically. Being able to prove that God is real would actually be the real death blow for religion.
I don't think many adherents would agree with that. I can see mass parading on every street corner by certain religious groups if their particular rendition of God was demonstrated as valid.
The point of religion is faith — to believe, not just accept. Followers of other religions will be able to find passages in their own holy book with similar meanings.
The point of religion is to test the capability of the human mind to accept claims
Okay, my mind can't quite do that, or won't do that. Not seeing a positive argument here.
If there is empirical evidence God exists, there is basically no point in believing — you are forced to believe God exists, not because you are convicted in your heart that he is real, but because the evidence is there and you can't run away from it.
Here's the strange confusion between ought
that many theists passively make too much. Belief is not (generally) motivated by ought
, it is motivated by a specific subjective understanding of what is
. It comes from a specific experience of natural phenomena combined with learned knowledge up to that point (personality plays a part in bias, and is the biggest player in the motivation of faith).
To note, there are many atheists that don't believe in God but wish they could (I am not one of them). They wish they could be convinced and have some 'faith' but really can't. They are people with the same yearning of those of faith, but have differentiated beliefs from desire, ought from is effectively. Are they 'worse' because they cannot suspend their disbelief? Are they of less heart because they can't endorse the concept of believing what you wish to be true, rather than believe what you understand to be true?
The fact that God has not given us evidence of his existence is meant to affirm our free will, and to lend our faith a meaning. Hard atheist Richard Dawkins says that if after dying, he finds himself in front of God, he will tell Him, "Not enough evidence, God. Not enough evidence."
I'm not sure if Dawkins said this, but it wouldn't surprise me.
And he's absolutely right. Why give us the gift of rationality and then expect us to forgo its usage to ascend?
But the point of the evidence's absence is to give us a choice, and to make believing truly believing. That is something all people, theists and atheists, have to come to terms with. Trying to empirically prove that God exists, or to disprove his existence, beyond as some mental exercise, is a complete waste of time.
This could be applied with anything
. Any one of any metaphysical, spiritual or supernatural leaning could make the exact
same claims. Their beliefs transcend and are not based in or for evidence. Why should a skeptic say believe the claims of a Christian, over a Muslim if evidence no longer players a role in it?
I cannot also abide a God that gives us the capacity to understand and explore our world through our own intellect and our own creativity and then insists we suspend it in order to ascend to the supernatural peak.