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Story where a scientist definitively proves there is no god

  1. Jan 15, 2016 #1
    I have an idea for a short story where a scientist definitively proves there is no god, that this life is all there is--with disastrous results.Where I'm stuck is coming up with a good McGuffin. Anyone out there have any thoughts on what would prove definitively there is no god or, more importantly, no after life?
     
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  3. Jan 15, 2016 #2

    Evo

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    There is nothing to disprove, it is for the people that believe in things that have no evidence to prove that these things exist.
     
  4. Jan 15, 2016 #3
    I see your point--but that hardly moves my story along.
     
  5. Jan 15, 2016 #4

    Drakkith

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    It isn't possible to disprove the existence of a god and/or an afterlife, so if you're banking on that being the key plot driver then you're going to run into problems. However, that doesn't necessarily stop your characters from thinking they've done so and then possibly exploring the consequences. Unfortunately I'm not sure of any McGuffin that you could use.
     
  6. Jan 15, 2016 #5
    Easy. The scientist finds out that everyone (or worse yet - himself) is nothing more than a virtual lab rat living inside a computer simulation.

    That should work, unless you believe in Silicon Heaven.
     
  7. Jan 15, 2016 #6

    Drakkith

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    And how does that disprove the existence of a god?
     
  8. Jan 15, 2016 #7
    His world is no more real than he is.

    He has no afterlife any more than he has a life.
     
  9. Jan 15, 2016 #8

    Drakkith

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    I think some philosophers would disagree with you. Can you prove that a digital being has no god or afterlife?
     
  10. Jan 15, 2016 #9
    Actually, the whole question is kind of mute. This is a short story and the author doesn't have to and more importantly, shouldn't, explain that to the reader. The reader just has to accept that as fact.

    People read science fiction stories where crews travel faster than light, monsters walk out of walls, and transporters beam people and things all over the universe. None of those stories explain how it works and doing so would bog down the story and alienate a number of readers that know there is no real explanation. They read the story because it is entertaining.

    Maybe this scientist discovers the nature of consciousness and it proves there is no soul. Does it matter that the author of the fiction story doesn't have a companion proof published in Nature? Of course not. Just make up something and don't provide any details. You don't owe the reader an explanation. . The reader won't care unless the story and/or writing is that bad, but that's another problem.
     
  11. Jan 15, 2016 #10
    Now that's a vote of confidence if ever I've heard one. Yeah I wasn't planning to go into elaborate explanation. I certainly don't need to feel that what I'm talking about is for real, but I need something to hang things on. I have a sort of time-travel idea I'm not in love with. I threw the question out here to see if anyone had a thought or idea that hasn't occurred to me.
     
  12. Jan 15, 2016 #11

    fresh_42

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    So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Douglas Adams)
     
  13. Jan 15, 2016 #12
    What's the nut of the story? Let me put it another way, what is the crises that you are trying to create?

    For example, if panic and condemnation is the end result you are after, it won't take much to make that happen. Here on Earth people are ready to kill others if you call their god by the wrong name. Claiming proof that they don't exist is almost enough as it is. Backing that up with some mumbo-jumbo about the nature of life and consciousness might be all you need. Or, as I suggested, have him prove nothing is real and that will pull the rug out from everyone's feet.

    You probably have to be more concerned about offending your audience's personal beliefs here. Leaving a few holes in this guy's proof might be a better plan unless your story's hidden message is that there is no god. Which brings me back to the question of what the nut of the story is.
     
  14. Jan 15, 2016 #13

    fresh_42

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    If you want to prove non-existence you have to define an attribute that 'god' must have and then show that this contradicts something true.
    E.g. omnipresence in a universe that expands and therefore dilutes god to a non measurable something.
     
  15. Jan 15, 2016 #14

    mfb

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    It is impossible to disprove the existence of something that does not interact with our world, or does so in sufficiently subtle ways to escape systematic searches.
    If you just want to shatter some religious views: let the scientist assemble an adult human from scratch, starting just with some chemicals.
     
  16. Jan 15, 2016 #15
    I can't figure out how to do it. But I never would have figured out Bell's theorem or the Kochen-Sprecker paradox either. Those taught me to be careful about asserting that it is impossible to prove something.

    You have to show that if God exists then that leads to a contradiction of known experimental results. Maybe read up on those things then throw out a bunch of physics bafflegab.
     
  17. Jan 15, 2016 #16

    esuna

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    Go around explaining the proof completely and just focus on the aftermath. Belief in God is what keeps a lot of people from doing terrible things. Show us a "world without God" where the fear of judgment doesn't hold people people back from their desires and where everyone is forced to adopt a nihilistic view of life. Could be really interesting if done right.
     
  18. Jan 15, 2016 #17
    That is the whole point of this.
     
  19. Jan 15, 2016 #18
    I think the honest scientific attitude towards existence of God is this: if the question is such that you can't prove nor disprove it, you should just be wise enough to leave the question open.

    You can have faith that God or Creator or something like that exists and you can have faith that He/She does not exist, but nobody has hard knowledge about the question. Scientific theories don't need any kind of God, but that's not an answer or prove to the question itself at all.

    I have no clue whether God exists or not and that doesn't bother me at all.
     
  20. Jan 15, 2016 #19

    Drakkith

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    While that's certainly one way to go about it, astute readers will quickly realize the premise is shallow and makes little sense unless there's a good, in-story reason that the scientist and the rest of the population can't see the impossibility of disproving god.
     
  21. Jan 15, 2016 #20
    There are ways of doing this that are occurring to me. Loren does have a point. I'm not interested in proving there is no god, I'm interested in what would happen if you could convince the religious there is no god.
     
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