Can science prove that god doesn't exist ?

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In summary, science cannot disprove the existence of a god, but the burden of proof lies with the believers.
  • #1
rusty009
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Before I start the discussion, I would like to point out that I am not a very religious person neither am I an Athiest, I’m not trying to provoke any science Vs religion argument, would just like you to share your thoughts.

Ok, my understanding of science is that it is an analytical subject, what I make of it is that it analyses entities, it studies this entity and then tries to describe what is going on using the laws of physics and attempts to describe why it is happening. So from this logic, in order to prove that god does not exist, it would need to find a “god”, put it under the microscope, study it and then say that it is not “god”. I’m sure you can see the error in how it can prove god doesn't exist. What are your thoughts ?
 
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  • #2
God is not a subject of science for the reason you cite. Unless a god is made available for testing, there is no way to address the idea in scientific terms. We can only say that there is no accepted scientific evidence suggesting that a God exists.
 
  • #3
What is up with people trying to prove God does not exist? Seems like this and trying to prove GRT wrong is the newbie favorite.
 
  • #4
What is up with people trying to prove God does exist?
 
  • #5
The notion that science can debunk faith is probably one of the most common fallacies that we see here.

The most common fallacy that I see is likely the assumption that Occam's Razor is a scientific law - a tool that be used to debunk a claim.
 
  • #6
MotoH said:
What is up with people trying to prove God does not exist? Seems like this and trying to prove GRT wrong is the newbie favorite.

Read my post, at no point did I try to prove god does not exist, I put out my reasoning for why I thought science can't prove if god does or does not exist !
 
  • #7
Faith doesn't have physical properties. Can science prove that belief or love doesn't exist? From a scientific perspective, however, the burden of proof lies with the believer as science itself doesn't ask the question.
Borek said:
What is up with people trying to prove God does exist?

MotoH said:
What is up with people trying to prove God does not exist?
Differing value systems would be the shortest answer.
 
  • #8
rusty009 said:
So from this logic, in order to prove that god does not exist, it would need to find a “god”, put it under the microscope, study it and then say that it is not “god”. I’m sure you can see the error in how it can prove god doesn't exist. What are your thoughts ?
It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something. You cannot, even in principle, prove that a given thing does not exist somewhere in the universe.

Note that it has nothing to do with God. You cannot prove the non-existence of flying unicorns somewhere in the universe either.

This has been discussed many, many, many times here on PF. A search will reveal many members' thoughts on the matter.
 
  • #9
DaveC426913 said:
It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something. You cannot, even in principle, prove that a given thing does not exist somewhere in the universe.

Note that it has nothing to do with God. You cannot prove the non-existence of flying unicorns somewhere in the universe either.

I've always felt this approach completely misses the point.

Science can address all kinds of propositions, provided they have some empirical content. One of the usual attributes of "gods" is that they generally do whatever it is they do right here and now. They might also be involved in activities elsewhere; but in order to be the entity postulated by believers, they are involved HERE. So something limited to another solar system doesn't count, by definition.

Some notions of "god" might be addressed by science. Others might not. It depends. Tell me what is being proposed before I can say whether it has implications that might be tested. Many notions of God DO have implications, most of which fail to hold up. People tend to modify the notion of God in some way rather than reject the theory; but a postulate that continues to be modified to escape awkward implications is the kind of thing scientists tend to dismiss. Even if not formally disproved. It just ends up having no empirical content; even if the original versions of the god-model DID have empirical content and had to be rejected. A lot of god-notions are like this, IMO; including those of most of the major religions; and I suspect that is why most surveys suggest people inclined to scientific thinking are less likely to believe in god.

Cheers -- sylas
 
  • #10
I am going to agree with the general idea that has been given here.

However the OP should note that science does not deal with proofs or proving ideas/theories true/false. It has to do with scientific evidence as such AFAIK the current scientific evidence suggesting that a God exists isn't substantial to make the assumption that they are existent.

This doesn't prove that they don't exist and science never will, that belongs in the realm of philosophy. I think it should however lay the foundation for people finding beliefs in such supernatural claims.

Something that the OP should separate in their own mind is God(s) from Religion(s)... they are very different. I do firmly believe that science can dispell many religions infact, I do it in my spare time. :-p Not for these forums though.
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
--Marcus Aurelius
 
  • #11
From a scientific point of view, the universe has built itself up from the simplest constituents of matter to more complex.

Doesn't even matter what came before the bigbang, we know that:

There is lots of hydrogen in the universe. Over the span of billions of years, some hydrogen got converted to all elements in the periodic table via supernova explosions. The newly cooked elements then came together into planets where the elements are allowed to come into contact with each other. As a result, chemical compounds are formed which are basically even more complex structures of matter then there were before. Then some of them began replicating and life happened. Life evolved into trillions of pointless dead end lineages that died off eons of ago. What survived to date are humans among many other creatures.

In conclusion what we see is the evolution of:

simplicity > complexity

and not

complexity > simplicity
 
  • #12
DaveC426913 said:
It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something. You cannot, even in principle, prove that a given thing does not exist somewhere in the universe.

Note that it has nothing to do with God. You cannot prove the non-existence of flying unicorns somewhere in the universe either.

This has been discussed many, many, many times here on PF. A search will reveal many members' thoughts on the matter.

I don't entirely agree. At least as a mathematical/logical game you can prove something's non-existence by contradiction. There are several well-known attempts to disprove God's existence in this sense, namely by showing that his properties are self contradictory - can God create a stone so heavy he can't lift it? If God is all loving and all powerful and all loving, why does he allow suffering to exist?

Even so, I do agree that you can't disprove God's existence, since these logical games needn't apply to some transcendent all powerful being, and arguably needn't even apply to our regular non-transcendent universe.
 
  • #13
waht said:
In conclusion what we see is the evolution of:

simplicity > complexity

and not

complexity (God) > simplicity

So you are saying that if we created a simulation of a universe to play out exactly how we model our own universe and in the universe life arises, intelligent life. That the can conclude that their universe was not made by something more complex than the origin of the universe?

That seems to be contrary to logic, we can not conclude definitively on anything which exists outside the universe.
 
  • #14
madness said:
I don't entirely agree. At least as a mathematical/logical game you can prove something's non-existence by contradiction. There are several well-known attempts to disprove God's existence in this sense, namely by showing that his properties are self contradictory - can God create a stone so heavy he can't lift it? If God is all loving and all powerful and all loving, why does he allow suffering to exist?

Even so, I do agree that you can't disprove God's existence, since these logical games needn't apply to some transcendent all powerful being, and arguably needn't even apply to our regular non-transcendent universe.

We shouldn't discuss religious ideologies of god(s) and just discuss it in concept..
 
  • #15
sylas said:
I've always felt this approach completely misses the point.

It doesn't miss the point; what it does is highlight the fact that this, and almost all other instances of questions like this are poorly formed and ambiguous.

At face value, what I have said is strictly true. As always, the poster will now have to respond with "OK, well what I really meant was..."

...at which point we will have the usual discussion about varying opinions of what constitutes "God".

But the OP (and anyone else in the discussion) must first be brought to the realization that the initial question is poorly-formed.
 
  • #16
zomgwtf said:
We shouldn't discuss religious ideologies of god(s) and just discuss it in concept..

I wasn't aware that I was making reference to any specific ideologies.

And to Waht - most people who cite God as an explanation for the universe do so because they consider him to be simple and not complex. The line of reasoning you cite is the same one they use.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_simplicity
 
  • #17
madness said:
I don't entirely agree. At least as a mathematical/logical game you can prove something's non-existence by contradiction. There are several well-known attempts to disprove God's existence in this sense, namely by showing that his properties are self contradictory - can God create a stone so heavy he can't lift it? If God is all loving and all powerful and all loving, why does he allow suffering to exist?
Yup. They're just games.

For example, you cannot prove the "unliftable rock" argument without first defining God as omnipotent. Once you have managed to force God into this box, you can then prove that nothing can logically fit in the box. But that's not disproving God, that's simply proving the contradictory nature of "omnipotence".
 
  • #18
madness said:
I wasn't aware that I was making reference to any specific ideologies.

The ideology where you defined God as omnipotent and/or omniscient and/or all loving.
 
  • #19
I was quoting well known arguments against his existence. Without attributes like omnipotence there's not much to say about God, we have literally no clue what the word means.

And yes I agree that they're just games, that's what I said in my post. I was just pointing out that it's common to attempt to prove his non-existence in this way.
 
  • #20
zomgwtf said:
So you are saying that if we created a simulation of a universe to play out exactly how we model our own universe and in the universe life arises, intelligent life. That the can conclude that their universe was not made by something more complex than the origin of the universe?

That seems to be contrary to logic, we can not conclude definitively on anything which exists outside the universe.

By hypothesizing something more complex outside of our framework hasn't really answered anything at all. What created the thing that created our universe? What created the thing that created the thing that created the universe? ... ad-infinitum.

As a result God (as defined as a super complex entity) only leads to an infinite regress.
 
  • #21
madness said:
I was quoting well known arguments against his existence.
Against the existence of specific ideologies of God. Which we're trying to avoid.

madness said:
And yes I agree that they're just games, that's what I said in my post.
Odd, what I read was "I don't entirely agree...you can prove something's non-existence..."
 
  • #22
waht said:
As a result God (as defined as a super complex entity) only leads to an infinite regress.

Agreed, but why do you feel that you are special enough to solve this regress simply by positing that we must be the originating universe/possible cause?
 
  • #23
@madness, even using the term HIS(singular) is very specific to certain religions.

I'm a polytheist and I believe Zeus is king of the Gods, what you have to say to me now about the definition of God?
 
  • #24
zomgwtf said:
@madness, even using the term HIS(singular) is very specific to certain religions.

I'm a polytheist and I believe Zeus is king of the Gods, what you have to say to me now about the definition of God?

Well, pretty sure Zeus is a dude... :biggrin:
 
  • #25
DaveC426913 said:
Against the existence of specific ideologies of God. Which we're trying to avoid.

The only things we have to barter with are the attributes, or properties, of a supposed God. Without assuming some of these there's no discussion to be had.

Odd, what I read was "I don't entirely agree...you can prove something's non-existence..."

I said that the non-existence of something can be disproved in a mathematical/logical game. I then went on to explain why this needn't apply to the real world and/or God.
 
  • #26
DaveC426913 said:
Well, pretty sure Zeus is a dude... :biggrin:

lol.

Well the point being that Zeus may be a guy but he is A god. "His" is singular and it is discussing GOD. That's very specific. To me there are many god(s) and they are not all masculine and they do not have the qualities of the other religious ideologies.
 
  • #27
zomgwtf said:
@madness, even using the term HIS(singular) is very specific to certain religions.

I'm a polytheist and I believe Zeus is king of the Gods, what you have to say to me now about the definition of God?

Like I said, there is no discussion to be had without making some assumptions on what God is. The ones I used are the ones mostly discussed in western philosophy and what God is most commonly taken to mean in this context.
 
  • #28
madness said:
Like I said, there is no discussion to be had without making some assumptions on what God is. The ones I used are the ones mostly discussed in western philosophy and what God is most commonly taken to mean in this context.

define: god
--God is a deity in theistic and deistic religions and other belief systems, representing either the sole deity in monotheism, or a principal deity in polytheism.Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1995.

deity: any supernatural being worshipped as controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life or who is the personification of a forceDefintion removed from any type of ideology. Moving on now.
 
  • #29
madness said:
Like I said, there is no discussion to be had without making some assumptions on what God is.
No assumptions necessary.

As I pointed out in post 15, there is no discussion to be had until we have a well-formed question. Once the OP defines what he is asking about, we'll have a discussion.


It would be just as silly to ask a question like "Is the fish?" and then have everyone chime in for 50 posts with their own takes on the phrase.

madness said:
The ones I used are the ones mostly discussed in western philosophy and what God is most commonly taken to mean in this context.
Which is why assumptions are bad.
 
  • #30
That definition of deity doesn't accommodate the Judeo-Christian or Hindu concept "God". You assume God is a "personification" - whether God is personal or impersonal is a matter of ideology. And what is this about the personification of a force? I think this refers to more primitive religions.
 
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  • #31
DaveC426913 said:
No assumptions necessary.

As I pointed out in post 15, there is no discussion to be had until we have a well-formed question. Once the OP defines what he is asking about, we'll have a discussion.


It would be just as silly to ask a question like "Is the fish?" and then have everyone chime in for 50 posts with their own takes on the phrase.

Which is why assumptions are bad.

Why does that make assumptions bad? I don't see the problem with using the standard and best-accepted definition. Anyway, we are basically in agreement that without agreeing on a definition there is no discussion to be had.
 
  • #32
madness said:
That definition of deity doesn't accommodate the Judeo-Christian or Hindu concept "God". You assume God is a "personification" - whether God is personal or impersonal is a matter of ideology. And what is this about the personification of a force? I think this refers to more primitive religions.

Reread the definition again.
 
  • #33
zomgwtf said:
Agreed, but why do you feel that you are special enough to solve this regress simply by positing that we must be the originating universe/possible cause?

What is observed thus far scientifically is that the of arrow of evolution of the universe goes from simple structures to more complex structures.

But if our universe was born out of a complex structure, then what is more likely: that the complex structure came from even a more complex structure? or that it came from a simpler structure?

The notion that the universe came from a more complex structure is like saying that the chicken came before the egg.
 
  • #34
zomgwtf said:
Reread the definition again.

Ok I missed the "or". I still say this isn't a general definition of "God" - it doesn't accommodate the Hindu "Brahman".
 
  • #35
madness said:
Ok I missed the "or". I still say this isn't a general definition of "God" - it doesn't accommodate the Hindu "Brahman".

Brahman in Hinduism isn't a god that's why this general definition does not fit such a concept. :smile:.
 

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