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God… to define is to destroy?

  1. May 7, 2003 #1
    I’ve observed the negativity some have as they condemn the materialistic approach of science, yet I feel ‘they’ would like nothing more than for science to ‘prove’ god exists…
    There are some things I could say about that but what I’d rather do is move along to the following;

    What if science found God (or to use a line I posted in another thread, ‘god’s toenail’), what would this mean?
    There is a saying about familiarity breeding contempt and if there actually was a god that science could understand in a ‘material’ way, then what would this do in relation to people holding god high upon a pedestal?
    What I mean is, how can God command respect if science picks him to pieces and figures out what makes him tick? Would not God be reduced in stature if ‘he’ could be explained in terms of electrons and protons?

    I am reminded of a quote;

    "There is, in fact, no reason to believe that any given natural phenomenon, however marvelous it may seem today, will remain forever inexplicable. Soon or later the laws governing the production of life itself will be discovered in the laboratory, and man may set up business as a creator on his own account. The thing, indeed, is not only conceivable; it is even highly probable." [H. L. Mencken, 1930]

    A penny for your thoughts.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2003 #2
    Science cannot find God - whether God exists or not. God is not a thing within our sensations. God is, necessarily, the Whole, and the essence of all things.
  4. May 8, 2003 #3
    Sup Boulderhead, long time no see, new eye avatar as well... Well i feel that science DOES pick apart God and though I am not really a religious person I know enough to know that for a religon to be wholly accurate it goes along with science; i.e. science does not contradict religon, it should supplement it. *No insult to you christians out there :smile: *

    Then again it can be argued that God is what the people make Him out to be. He doesnt have to conform to the laws of science, He just has to have the faith in His followers. In that sense everyone has their own right to their believes and shouldn't let science get in the way of their religon.

    Yes at the rate science is going and if it does explain god in terms of electrons and protons God will quickly lose His grandeur to all but the most pious of people.

    If you science peeps think that either a) there is no God, or b) God can be explained in terms of electrons and protons, then you guys are in league with the philospher Nietzsche, who once said that God doesnt exist.

    Once science picks apart religon and God, people will find it hard to look at God the same way. Best leave things the way they are. Like the old saying: Don't trouble trouble, unless trouble troubles you. Some things are better left unexplained.

    And that, gentlemen, is my two cents worth of opinions.
  5. May 8, 2003 #4

    Another God

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    Science will never 'find' anything related to god because God has been defined in such a way so as to make it...well...non-existant. God is 'everywhere'... so we shouldn't need to look very hard to see it...and we aren't seeing anything which we call 'God' are we? So we either need to re-define our thinking, or forget about God. Either way, nothing will lead to us 'finding' some part of God...
  6. May 8, 2003 #5
    It follows then that God has to compete with Matter, as what you denote as what God means or stand for, has already been defined under the term Matter, as that what is outside and independend of our mind, and also the source of our sensations and awareness of the world.
    Your concept of God conflicts with Matter because, although both concept fulfill the same role in our experience and sensation of the world, you do not think of God as existing in a timely, spacely and changing way, but more as un unchanging existence outside of time and space. The concept of Matter however comes from the notion that all things are in constant motion/change ("Everything flows") and that the existence of Matter therefore requires time and space to exist.

    Noteworthy to your point of view of what God is or is not, is just one of many (contradictionary) definitions of God. It is precisely because of this aspect of any notions of God, that science can not deal with such a concept, and why science therefore adapts to the notion of Matter instead.
  7. May 8, 2003 #6
    Like I explained before, the concept of God, the fact that there are contradictionary definitions of God, make the concept of God as something that cannot be dealt with by science.
    This is however not the same as saying that science claims that there is no God, cause that would imply science can deal with the concept of God.
  8. May 8, 2003 #7
    So you are saying essentially, from the peoples' point of view, that the borders of the definitions of God is actually something which should not be mixed with science? Sorry but i'm a bit slow on the uptake here *mind swimming*.

    Also what do you mean by that by claming that science declares that there is no god that science is already dealing with the concept of god? If science declares god off limits that would be showing that science cannot or would not deal with the concept of god, no? Please enlighten this mixed up and confused soul... Thanks. [?]
  9. May 8, 2003 #8
    If God is for instance defined as acting outside of time and space, then all attempts for science to explore such a concept is rather useless. The concept of existence outside of time and space, cannot be dealt with in science, cause science explores the world in the forms it can be known and explored. This also means that all science explorations can not consitute for any proof pro- or against God.
    Merely science would claim that for our understanding of the world, we do not need to adapt the concept of a God, acting outside of time and space.
  10. May 8, 2003 #9
    I see now. You have raaised a valid point. If god is seen to be working outside the concept of time and space it would be useless to deal with such a concept. So we should all just leave god the way He is, workign His mysterious ways outside our realm and grasp.

    Deviating here a little, it jsut occured to me that if God exists outside space and time could God be a member of the 4th dimension? Vaguely i know that 4D beings can achieve feats impossible to us 3D people, such as putting an eraser into and taking out of a basketball without deflating it in any way, the same way we 3D people can flip people left and right which people living in a 2D world would be unable to do. So is He actually a being of the 4th dimension? just opening a topic of debate here..
  11. May 8, 2003 #10
    I'm going to hold off additional comments for the time being because I think everyone posting here is doing fantastic! There's some good stuff here I'd like to discuss...
  12. May 8, 2003 #11
    I don't know what God could be or not could be.

    We observe space as having 3 spatial dimensions and one time dimension. This is already a 4 dimensional spacetime manifold.
    General relativity has linked the time dimension closer together to the 3 spatial dimensions.

    My assertion about God existing outside time and space, would mean that God has no spatial and timely mode of existence at all, and is therefore unchanging. In material terms this would simply mean: inexistent, cause all forms of matter are undergoing change, motion and transformations and exist in space and time.

    You go from a different path, and assume the existence of a %-th space dimension, that could fit the existence of God, and which is not observable by us.

    I think some development in physics go about this direction, in the form of the M theory, which is a superior layer to string theories. M theory takes place in an 11 dimensional space (1 time, 10 spatial), where the 7 extra sptial dimensions are "compactified". String theory takes place in 10 dimensions (1 time, 9 spatial), with 6 spatial dimensions "compactified". There are 5 string theories, which in a sense are all aspects of one 'mother' theory, which is called M theory.

    This is of course not a research in "finding God", but a research in finding the fundamental properties of all matter. So far, this reserach has some merits, but the exploration in this field has yet to bridge the gap between the mathematical theory, and the world of physical observations. The gap is still quite large.

    For instance the major 'player' in string theory, the fundamental quanta of energy/matter on which all properties of the material world rest, the 'strings', are not detectable by ordinary particle accelerators, cause the length of these 'string' and the needed energies for their exploration, are several sizes too high for the equipment we have today. We would need particles accelerators the size of the solar system to be able to detect matter at such length scales.

    M theory has also an associated cosmological theory, called 'brane cosmology'. Strings can be attached to a brane of dimensionality p, called p-branes. Collisions between branes are candidate events that could have caused a big bang to occur.

    I can only schematically explain string theory, for a better understanding of this theory, I would recommend reading a string theory primer available on the net.
  13. May 8, 2003 #12
    The Eternal Moment

    Where does God exist? ... How about in the moment, where our consciousness lies, which belies the fact that we're alive? Also, doesn't time and space exist "within" the moment? As well as without? At the very least this is where the two intersect ... And yet no matter where you go, you are always there, "in the moment." Doesn't that then suggest that the moment is Eternal and, that it encompasses everything? Which then allows God to exist within time and space, as well as without?

    And let's say we were able to take a snapshot of Creation as a whole (as only God could), where we pictured the Universe as only a bubble, wouldn't that then suggest that everything exists within the moment?

    From the thread, What is it about the Moment? ...

  14. May 8, 2003 #13
    Hi Boulder

    My thoughts are that what you're saying would be true if it really happened that way. But this would assume that all science in the future has this same process and effect that it does today. The idea that it can pick apart a glamorous thing and tear it into smaller, less glamourous things in order to understand it. But even in todays world this process leads us to an unexpected, very unclear world of quantum "stuff".

    I cannot offer any possibilities but I suspect that if science ever did find a god, that it wouldn't be done in the lab the way you envision things happening today. Who knows what scientists 50,000 years from now may understand? Who knows what concepts they may have that we can't even imagine? Is it not possible that the old idea of of tearing something sexy down into non-sexy parts could be a thing of the past?

    Now gimme my penny and don't think about the transaction too much or you might feel cheated. :smile:
  15. May 8, 2003 #14
    What ethnocentric rubbish.

    What would happen if science found a toenail of God? Uncounted millions and even billions of people believe science has already discovered God and they worship each and every new discovery science makes. For these people God is not some distant transcendent abstraction but a concrete reality they experience each and every day. From the bizarre behavior of quanta to the hazy obscurity of the big bang, from the dreams and nightmares of humanity to the ground under our feet these people believe God is manifest in everything.

    As Allan Watts said, God may be playing peek-a-boo. If the acausal effects of Quantum Mechanics and the big bang are not magical enough for people, I'm afraid they may be in for a lifetime of disapointment. Personally, I prefer to just accept it as it presents itself.....whatever it happens to be.
  16. May 8, 2003 #15

    Hmm. This brings me to adding a new definition of God. What about the wondering (the experience thereof) of the fabulously complex material realily surrounding us and within us?
    Material reality is described as it is using materialism. The experience of the way the material world realy behaves, to us as conscious beings, forms then the concept or notion of 'God'.

    Can anyone agree?
  17. May 8, 2003 #16
    Good ol’ Wu Li, telling it like he sees it!
    I think, however, that this is a far cry from a ‘personal’ god that even more people seem to think exists. I don’t feel such a personal entity exists, personally.
    I certainly think that there is a ‘magic’ in this universe but that doesn’t mean I would call it ‘God’ though.

    Hello Fliption,
    Don’t you think, however, that this quantum ‘stuff’ (about which I know nothing) will most likely be explained in a way that omits god from the picture?
    I don’t know where science will lead humanity or even what it might morph into, if anything, but if in its present state if it examines ‘god’s toenail’ all I see it finding is a clump of matter, not god. Having some unknown element in QM may provide a ‘hiding place’ for god, and are locations such as this where god will forever be found?

    I don’t think science can avoid doing this. I think that depending on what type of god they found different things might happen, for example;
    1) God is something like Zeus.
    Well, here we would have a being that commands respect and ought to be feared, to be sure, but ultimately god would be just some clever arrangement of matter. Heck, it might even be possible for science to duplicate this type of entity, so I don’t see how one could ‘love’ this god, though I do see how you could live in fear of it. I think that this would lead to disrespect and rebellion eventually.
    2) God is some non-personal entity, or ‘all that is’, etc.
    Here I think that science could only look at the parts, perhaps never making a provable connection, and most likely having nothing more than a feeling of awe for nature. I recognize that this is enough for many people.

    I’m trying my best to say what I’m thinking, but feel like I’m coming up short with my words. I’m thinking that finding a definition of god may mean that we now have something to pick apart and find fault with. To use a quote;

    The position of the atheist is a clear and reasonable one. I know nothing about God and therefore I do not believe in Him or it. What you tell me about your God is self-contradictory and is therefore incredible. I do not deny "God," which is an unknown tongue to me. I do deny your God, who is an impossibility. I am without God.
    -Annie Besant

    Now, I have used this quote in the past but there is a part of it which has a meaning for me that I’m sure was never conveyed to any of you who may have read it. This is the part about “What you tell me about your God is self-contradictory and is therefore incredible” which leads A. B. to deny this god as being impossible. In a way, isn’t this what happens when someone defines their view of god? If you bring it out of the closet it will be scrutinized and beaten. This is what I was trying to show in examples 1 & 2 above. Has anyone ever heard of a concept of god that wouldn’t lead to this?
    So, to define god may be to destroy him. If god is material then god is a clever arrangement of matter and little more. If god is something else, then likewise there are problems…
  18. May 8, 2003 #17
    And precisely because of that feature of all known concepts of God, it is arguable we ultimately need to drop any notions of God, cause what we need to do in fact is try to know all what we can know about the world and ourselve, in order for us to be able to be truly human.
  19. May 8, 2003 #18
    Nice thread, Boulderhead - though I really don't think it should have been in the Philosophy Forum (no offense).

    My opinion is that there are millions of people who have accepted the existence of God already. These people believe that there is "proof" of God's existence, and so a scientific breakthrough (such as you describe (finding God's toenail, so to speak)) would not change their belief, so much as it would make them believe that the inevitable had finally occured.

    OTOH, those that stuck to atheism, because of not wanting to submit themselves to a God of any kind# would find themselves without much choice in that matter (as there would be verifiable proof of God's existence).

    # I am not saying that all (or even most) atheists stick to atheism because of such a desire for independence. This is merely the attitude of some atheists.
  20. May 8, 2003 #19
    No offense taken. Do you recall how many times I told you the same thing back in PF2?, haha! What if I said that since Mentat refused to post in religion I was left with no choice? ...don't answer that btw, I'll shoot you a PM.
  21. May 8, 2003 #20
    Yes, yes, I remember all too well the "How Do Scientists Explain Prophecy" thread, whose last couple of pages were just back and forth, me vs. you, debating something that we just weren't going to agree on. Alright, I suppose I can't debate whether this thread belongs here anymore. So, I'll continue responding until it's moved.
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