God and Science: Oil and Water?

In a couple replies on an atheist website (for which I am the theist contributor), I find myself telling participants that we must use the scientific method correctly. In other words, the scientific method is a great tool to understanding the world around us, but it is horrible in regards to learning about God. Unfortunately, we live in a society where perception has an uncharacteristic “trump card” over philosophy and proclamation of religious faith. Many believe that the only way to perceive the world around them is with the five senses. Yet, I tell you that no one has ever seen a thought. No one has ever seen a feeling and we still believe them to exist (no, seeing neuron activity doesn’t count). Scientific method can’t explain existential meanings. Individuals try to use scientific method to learn more about faith and God. I will tell you right now that if you are waiting to physically see, touch, smell, taste, or hear God, He will never be revealed to you.

The skeptic will say, “Why not use the scientific method? The scientific method teaches us about everything we know. It is the ultimate tool for knowledge.” Well, there are a variety of reasons. Consider that God exists outside of the physical world that we know; He is outside of time. This is a hard concept to grasp for many, but you actually deal with this concept all the time. For instance, you can physically take three apples away from a pile of five. However, it is not possible or comprehendible for one to take five apples away from a pile of three.

How do we solve this dilemma? We make the problem part of the answer [3-5, 2-4, 1-3, 0-2], and therefore our answer becomes negative two (-2). Negative numbers don’t exist, they are imaginary – but they help people such as engineers solve very real problems every single day. This analogy explains the reason why God was never created (I really hate when people ask this cliché question). First, this statement assumes that God was created. However, if we perceive of God as outside of the three-dimensional world that we know, then such a question cannot apply. If God is a being that is unlimited and infinite in time (outside time), and if He has access to every piece of time as if it were now, the question of who created God is an invalid question. The question is like asking someone to draw a four-sided triangle – the terminology is self-contradictory. God exists outside of time and space, and if He is the Creator of time and space, He obviously was not created.

“Infinite” Can be a difficult concept for people to understand. Consider what world renowned religious scholar Huston Smith has to say on the subject:

“Think of infinite not just in space, but in worth. When we think about infinite now, it has been pretty much co-opted by science. We think about infinite space or infinite numbers. Well, those are scientific terms. But what about infinite value? Frankly, I believe that reality holds as much in the way of worth beyond what we are able to see with our ordinary experience, as it holds in quantity and size beyond what our naked senses can fathom.”

That being said, back to my analysis of the scientific method.

What the scientific method can do is give immense support for God. If you are familiar at all with astronomical constants, you will see that the slightest change in any of the very delicate variables would mean life as we know it would not exist. These constants exist all over the universe. For instance, if the tilt of the earth were just a few degrees one way or the other, climates would be too extreme. If Jupiter were further from the Earth, and not as big, then it wouldn’t suck in the great number of asteroids and comets that would otherwise crash into the Earth. If the ratio of protons to electrons formation was less, electromagnetism would dominate gravity which would prevent galaxy, star, and planet formation.

If you want to use some of the tenets from the scientific method in regards to God and religion, you sort of can. One driving force behind the scientific method is multiple tests of a particular phenomenon. Scientists will test over and over in order to develop explanations. This facet of the method can be applied to God (religion). Since the beginning of time, man has always had the notion that there is something greater than himself. If one looks at the prominence of religion and how it has re-occurred time and time again, the most intelligent of individuals familiar with the scientific method will admit that it is very possible we are on to something. Similar and re-occurring results increase likelihood and probability. Again, before anyone begins to waste countless minutes in trying to rebuttal this correlation of religion to the scientific method, know that this is a loose utilization. I should also note that this very concept is explained in great detail (and more effectively) by Huston Smith.

In the end, we need to stop trying to apply God to our limited view of how the creation operates – doing so is really a dis-service to both religion and science.


9 Responses

  1. “First, this statement assumes that God was created.”

    Why do you assume nature and “reality” was created as well? Can’t it always have existed, just as God has? Why is it such a big leap to believe God exists outside time and space but nature doesn’t/hasn’t?

    No, you can’t measure God scientifically but I DO have thoughts and I DO have feelings. I experienced these personally and I have names for them, knowing what they are. I have not “experienced” God as conveyed to me so it”s a hard bite to swallow.

  2. God bless you my friend .What you have said is the truth in which we all believe. If you read traditional books which interpret
    the Islam teachings you will find similar
    & identical analogies which had been stated centuries ago.

  3. If you are looking for atheists to “disprove god” that is philosophically impossible. You cannot disprove something. Try and disprove unicorns, or a flying spaghetti monster, it’s impossible, at least from a philosophical perspecitve. There is always a minute possiblility or flaw in perception which can discredit the argument of non-existance.

    The burden of proof is on the shoulder of the believer.

    Now what would be amazing is if Christian creationists could actually provide proof on the level that the scientific method demands. Because what you are forgetting is the need for replicant results and observations. The loop of scientific proof is not complete without these. Creationists are quick to point to a single shread of evidence which supports a portion of the young-earth theory, but the scientific community always chalks it up to natural quirks and geothermal manifestations. Why? Because in science a single piece of evidence proves nothing.

  4. hi Gavin,
    thanks for your thoughts. In regards to the burden of proof that lies on the shoulders of the believer – I would disagree.

    Unfortunately, beliefs about God tend to always be subject to a “court room” setting (that is, present evidence that validates your belief).

    However, court room analogies fail to give reason why the religious belief should assume the role of plaintiff. While the person making any claim thereby becomes the claimant and has upon him the burden of proof, to be a claimant is not synonymous, nor can it properly be compared, with being the plaintiff.

    Thus, one who makes a claim outside of the context of a court of law or a lawsuit, does have the burden of proof, BUT that proof does not need to be subject to the high standard of the rules of evidence of criminal court in order to be considered reasonable or legitimate; there is no logical basis for requiring that claims of a religious nature be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to be considered justified.


  5. Read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”

    You will see quite plainly how the Scientific Method *can* be applied to the theory of God, and while you cannot *disprove* something that there is no evidence for (a common distractionary and meaningless practice for all Religionists) — the statistal probablity for God is approximately zero.

    All your statements do nothign for the idea of God but move it further into the realm of creative fantasy, which is what it is.

    Primitive philosophy for the fearful masses, promoting myth over reality in an ages old game of control.

  6. Hi Jeff,
    well I must say that I am disappointed at the tone of your response. Why so much anger and sarcasm?
    You say, “the statistical probability for God is approximately zero”
    Could you please present actual probability statitstics that come to the answer zero in regards to God’s existence. Without them, the argument naturally isn’t valid or considerable.
    Your last statement is just an attempt at an insult – it doesn’t warrant any kind of real response.
    I understand you disagree with the points I made in my post – that’s fine. I will consider reading the book you suggested.
    God Bless.

  7. Well…I do agree with Richard Dawkins but up to an extent. In Christianity, God had manifested Himself to various peoples and tribes. Their testimonies were recorded in the Holy Bible. The challenge then is to “prove” whether such testimonies were genuine supernatural experiences, a bunch of shams, or could be explained by natural explanations in the absence of supernatural intervention. That is why skeptics relentlessly attack the Bible because that is the basis of Christian belief. Now, I believe that God is so powerful He can choose to appear or disappear in the natural world with ease just as a programmer would put a character of himself in a video game and log himself out and leave without a trace. I also do believe that one day, Christ would return on this Earth in His full glory and banish all skeptism of his Being.

  8. […] two of my posts were included in the blog carnival entitled: A Religious Wave.  The two posts were ‘God and Science: Oil and Water?‘, as well as my post on ‘The Powerful Christian Vote’ (which was featured in the […]

  9. […] 20th, 2007 by Justin I found out today that my post entitled, “God and Science: Oil and Water?” is featured in the Catholic Blog Carnival.  I am happy to see that some of the content fromt his […]

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