Can science prove that god doesn't exist ?

  • Thread starter rusty009
  • Start date
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 ?
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,094
172
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.
 
18
1
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.
 

Borek

Mentor
27,996
2,504
What is up with people trying to prove God does exist?
 

Ivan Seeking

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,094
172
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.
 
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 !
 
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.
What is up with people trying to prove God does exist?
What is up with people trying to prove God does not exist?
Differing value systems would be the shortest answer.
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,051
1,633
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.
 

sylas

Science Advisor
1,632
6
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
 
36
2
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 seperate 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. :tongue: 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
 
1,464
3
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
 
617
12
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.
 
36
2
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.
 
36
2
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..
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,051
1,633
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.
 
617
12
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
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,051
1,633
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".
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,051
1,633
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.
 
617
12
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.
 
1,464
3
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.
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,051
1,633
I was quoting well known arguments against his existence.
Against the existence of specific ideologies of God. Which we're trying to avoid.

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..."
 
36
2
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?
 
36
2
@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?
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
18,051
1,633
@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:
 
617
12
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.
 

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving

Hot Threads

Top