Thursday, May 20, 2010

Testing the God hypothesis?

After the public lecture I gave in India last month there were lots of good questions from the audience. Members also had the opportunity to write questions and comments for me to answer later.

Here are a few that are similar:
Can you prove experimentally whether or not God exists?
If God is not an object of the five senses, how is one going to verify his existence?
Is God experimentally testable?

I do not think that the existence of God is experimentally testable. But that does not mean that there is no publicly available evidence that the God of the Bible exists.

First, the God presented in the Bible cannot be "tamed" or "controlled" by man. The name LORD (Yahweh) means "I will be who I will be". God is subject not object. We can only discover God and his true nature if he reveals himself. This is just like a human relationship. We cannot force a person to disclose their true self to us.

In science experiments we are dealing with objects: DNA, protons, cells, liquids. If we are clever can control them and probe them and discover their "true" nature. But it should be stressed that often the knowledge we gain is indirect or "mediated". For example, we never truly see single electrons, just their effects.
I should also add that in science one can never "prove" anything. The best one can do is gather a lot of evidence that most people accept as evidence for something being true. Even if one has evidence against a hypothesis that does not mean that people will reject it.

So what evidence is there for God's existence? I think one needs to look at the historical person of Jesus, the evidence for his resurrection, and how he changed the lives of the disciples. Why were they willing to go to their deaths claiming that Jesus was God and had risen from the dead?
To me, the Bible presents a consistent, comprehensive, and coherent view of the world and humanity. It answers questions such as why does science work?

1 comment:

  1. So (forgive me), I have to throw a spanner in the works here... if Jesus' ressurection proves God's existence, then God is an object of experiment, right? The experiement is - demonstrate that miracles occur and prove the existence of God. God is not merely tamed, he is, as it were, trapped in the test tube of human scrutiny!

    Secondly, if proving God's existence can be rationally, empirically achieved by natural, sensible thought, then knowledge of God is attainable through human effort. On an epistemological level, salvation is a meritorious achievement of smart people.

    Why not just recieve a knowledge of God by faith, as a gift?