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A role for a God in QF? (help me argue my case!)

  1. Sep 22, 2011 #1
    Hi all,

    This is my first post here, so please be gentle. God/Superpower vs Science/quantum physics. That's what two friends & I have been arguing for months. They are zealously and offensively anti-religion/a superpower and believe that all they read, or watch on the discovery channel, to be true. The thing is so do I. Young's experiment, schrodinger's cat - we've all seen the Youtube videos and read about it, and all three of us are believers. But what's beginning to get between us is that I believe in science, but I also believe in an overall superpower that orchestrates everything - and science is the mechanics, if you like. Even if the higgs boson is found, I would still believe that a superpower orchestrated the big bang. My two friends, however, believe passionately that there is no role for a superpower, and that science is the beginning and end of everything. I find this hard to understand, and also quite sad.

    Being members of a science forum, I'd be interested to hear what you think. If you're able to help me fight my corner (given that it's 2vs.1!), then even better!

    Thanks, Gndoofi
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2011 #2
    I'd say a good place to start is to define what is supernatural.

    Most people associate the supernatural with ghosts and goblins, but the deeper metaphysical connotation refers to simply what is beyond natural law. For physics whatever defies physical law could be considered supernatural and that demonstrably includes quantum Indeterminacy. It certainly doesn't establish any proof for a creator or the supernatural, but it leaves the door open for doubt. Of course, naturalists would assert that everything is natural, but that is so much meaningless mystical metaphysical mumbo jumbo like saying everything is "energy" when energy is defined by mass. If they are going to assert something, then their definitions must be demonstrable or they are not scientific.
  4. Sep 22, 2011 #3


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    This doesn't meet the criteria for creating a thread in philosophy.
  5. Sep 22, 2011 #4

    Ben Niehoff

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    The "god of the gaps" finds his home smaller every year.
  6. Sep 22, 2011 #5
    All of metaphysics finds its home smaller every year and, personally, I couldn't be happier about the trend. If people have faith that's one thing, but dogma is a completely different animal and does not support the sciences in the long run.
  7. Sep 22, 2011 #6


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    This is very foolish. You should believe things on the basis of their evidence, not where they come from. Believing things that conform to your beliefs is dangerous.

    I have a big contention with the way you are using the word belief here. There is a big difference between accepting that something has a wealth of evidence showing it to be true and faith. However you are conflating the two in this post.

    Science is the empirical approach to gathering knowledge. One does not "believe" in science, there is simply acceptance of scientific methodology and acceptance of the data gained from that methodology.

    I don't understand what you mean by "science is the beginning and end of everything". Perhaps you could be more clear in future and less dramatic, I would hazard a guess that you are misrepresenting your friends here as well. Science is an body of methodology designed to determine the truthfulness of claims. We use it to discover and invent. What your friends may be saying is that science is a better explanation than faith, which I would agree with. There has never been anything that has shown to be better than current scientific practices at determining truth and if there was scientists would adopt that approach! What you are presenting here is the idea that belief without evidence is somehow valid compared to acceptance of evidence which is both illogical and impractical.

    The scientific approach is very simple.
    • Observe a phenomenon
    • Research all that is known about said phenomenon
    • On the basis of that research construct a hypothesis as to the explanation of said phenomenon
    • Rigorously test the hypothesis
    • On the basis of the data gained from tests either accept or reject the hypothesis or conclude that there is not enough data
    In amongst all of this there are very good strategies for deciding what constitutes good research, good hypothesises, good testing, good conclusions etc. Since no positive statement of supernatural phenomenon has ever been confirmed by this process I fail to see how anyone can say that they agree with both science and supernatural claims without having a severe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance" [Broken].

    Addressing what you have specifically said: you are putting forth a god of the gaps argument. In this manner if science cannot explain something you offer your supernatural claim as an answer e.g.

    "All current evidence gained through dedicated, logical research tells us that the big bang model is accurate"
    "Ah, but who made the big bang happen?"

    This is a huge fallacy. If something is unknown it is unknown. Supernatural claims have the appearance of being explanatory but they have no explanatory power. They do not conform to the method I have listed above and often are shown to be wrong when investigated properly. If there is no evidence of any explanation then there is nothing wrong, indeed there is everything right, with concluding that the best mankind can do is say I don't know. Proposing ideas that have no evidence and cannot be tested is illogical and unscientific.

    On the basis of all this my questions to you would be thus;

    - What is your definition of superpower/god?
    - What evidence do you have that it exists?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Sep 22, 2011 #7
    I believe the majority of your points have been addressed, but I would like to make one additional comment regarding the following quote sentence:

    Once you state that despite all/certain evidence you will still retain your previous beliefs you change the discussion into a battle, not a debate. The only result is more battle or your opponent submits. Imagine a world where that is the attitude, can you see any progress being made? There are countless examples throughout history where unrelenting ideology led to terrible things. Now I digress, but I hope you understand my point.

    For example, I used to despise frat guys. Why? Thought they were all idiots. Despite seeing various examples of smart and kind frat guys I chose to remain adamant in my belief that they were all idiots. Luckily, I wisened up, and I make sure to despise them on a person by person basis :tongue:.

  9. Sep 22, 2011 #8


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    Science doesn't rule out a God or Superpower. Science describes how the universe works, not provide a core reason for why the universe works that way. In other words, the issue of God/superpower is outside the realm of science.

    Religion vs science. Here you run into problems. Religions like unchanging answers. That only works if man started out knowing all of science. Instead, our knowledge of the universe increases all the time, meaning the science changes. Religions have to be very careful about mapping out their boundaries if they want their answers to be unchanging for all of time. Of course, some religions are more tolerant of change than others provided they can change without bringing their core beliefs into question.

    If you consider God/religion to be synonymous, then they're both incompatible with science. If you don't consider God/religion to be synonymous - that a religion can be wrong about some or many things without concluding they must therefore be wrong about the existence of a God - then a God isn't absolutely ruled out by science.
  10. Sep 22, 2011 #9
    Don't even partially base whether you believe in a god or not on "It would be sad if there wasn't". Try to keep emotions from deciding what you believe in. Believe in what you think is most logical. If you think its most logical that a god exists fine. If you think its more logical a god doesn't need to exist, fine too.
  11. Sep 22, 2011 #10
    The conflict comes in when religion tries to make specific claims about HOW the world works. Claims such as "the cancer went into remission because we prayed really hard," and not the chemotherapy. Science doesn't rule out a god or superpower, but it DOES rule out specific gods or superpowers who are claimed to do things incompatible with the scientific understanding of the world (e.g. a 6000 year old God that created the earth).

    In any case, in before the lock.
  12. Sep 22, 2011 #11


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    I think Ryan and BobG summed it up nicely. Science is not concerned with the supernatural.
  13. Sep 22, 2011 #12


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    Looks like a good time to close.
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