Saturday, July 18, 2009

Atheism and the abuse of the scientific method

A curious phenomenon I've noticed when seeing athiest arguments against the existence of God. Specifically one would hear the phrase "There is no evidence for the existence of God." The Chrisitian apologist would then go on to offer events such as miracles and such, and go on back and forth and such.

The problem I've always had with this is that both sides engage in an abuse of the scientific method. In order to see the problem let's review the scientific method.

1. A hypothesis is formed concerning a property of the universe.

2. An experiment is constructed based on the hypothesis to test said hypothesis.

3. A result is expected. If the experiment's results match the expected result, the hypothesis is proven.

4. The experiment is performed.

To illustrate by way of example, consider the following:

1. I propose a force exists, called "grabity", that pulls everything down toward the ground.

2. To test such a theory I will hold a ball above the ground. I will then remove my hand from beetween the ball and the ground.

3. If my theory is correct, the ball will "fall" toward the ground.

4. I drop the ball, and sure enough, the ball "falls" to the ground.

The problem with the dialogue mentioned in the first paragraph is that steps 2 and 3 are never really defined. When asked "What are you looking for" when it comes to evidence this is often accused as being a dodge. It is not. It is simply the correct progression of establishing a scientific test for the existence of God.

I think at some level there is a recognition that the scientific method is the wrong tool for the job. A process to test for the properties of the physical universe being used to determine the existence of an immaterial being is like using a metal detector to find your socks. And at some level I think the atheists recognize this but fail to come to grips with it.

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