Can Science (dis)prove God?

My last post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/pondering-the-effectiveness-of-prayer/) neatly leads into a question that I have pondered a little recently.

Two blogs that I read have published very good articles on the subject and very conveniently they take opposing views.

In the yes camp there is http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/can-science-test-the-supernatural-yes/ and in the no camp there is http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/science-and-the-supernatural-2/.

Having pondered it and re-read the two posts above (which I do recommend) I have come to the conclusion that Neil is right and scientific tests on the claims of the religious are not tests on the supernatural. The supernatural will remain untestable because scientific tests by definition can only be on the natural. Let’s ignore for the moment that the supernatural is a moving goalpost anyway.

However, that’s not all.

There is a valid conclusion based on these tests, and that is; with the testable claims of the religious coming up false, it is valid to conclude that there is no supernatural entity. But it is not a proven fact.

If Jerry Coyne was in fact correct then I don’t think that Richard Dawkins would have made the ‘not quite sure’ quote that made a lot of press earlier this year (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9102740/Richard-Dawkins-I-cant-be-sure-God-does-not-exist.html).

Neil is also right at the end of his blog to say that this is about honesty. Jerry should have been more clear and honest in his piece, what he should have stated was that its valid to conclude that there is no supernatural because the testable claims that believers make are consistently shown to be wrong when scientific rigour is applied.

It might be a subtle distinction, but it is very important to be accurate and bravo to Neil for picking up on that.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Can Science (dis)prove God?

  1. I’ll add a little perspective. Jerry Coyne, PZ Myers, and others whose blogs I read and who tend to agree with Jerry, are biologists. A significant part of their careers is spent in a kind of trench warfare against attacks from fundamentalist Christians. So I guess it isn’t all that much of a surprise that they tend to identify “Christianity” with the fundamentalist version. There’s not much doubt that science refutes the fundamentalist version of Christianity, so they tend to take that as a refutation of all of Christianity.

    I guess I see mostly a more sensible side of Christianity. When I look at some of the blogs in the Patheos progressive channel, I see progressive Christians often pointing out that fundamentalist Christianity looks somewhat anti-Christian from their point of view. So I take a broader view of what Christianity is.

    • Thanks for that Neil, it is a helpful perspective.

      I do really enjoy Jerry’s biology posts, they are informative and informed. They are intelligent and contain good insight and wisdom. They are a great resource of evolutionary information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s