Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Can we test it?

I have always argued that we can test whether God exists or not. But can we?

Here's the problem. Some scientists (both atheistic and Christian) contend that using God as an explanation anywhere, under any circumstances, undermines the scientific enterprise. After all, if you allow God as an explanation for natural phenomena, then what's to stop you from invoking God to explain a chemical reaction? Or when studying a topic such as cell division?

Another related argument is often called the "God of the gaps" fallacy. This term refers to saying, "It was an act of God," as a causal explanation for something we don't understand. In other words, if there is a gap in our understanding, then we just say, "God did it." The problem is, further investigation may provide a perfectly naturalistic explanation. In ancient times, people would invoke God as an explanation for all sorts of phenomena that we now understand to be completely explainable by the forces of nature. That is, people used to be superstitious. In this line of thinking, then creationism is also tantamount to superstition.

So I ask the question: can we ever plausibly lift up God as an explanation for phenomena without sacrificing our academic or scientific integrity? I'll put it another way: is God ever an appropriate and convincing cause of something?

Perhaps more to come. AND...

Comments are welcome!