Proof #4: Think About Science

A reply to proof #4 of God is Imaginary.

The basic argument of this proof is summed up in the last two paragraphs:

Only by assuming that God is imaginary and prayer is meaningless can science proceed.

The reason why scientists must assume that God is imaginary in order for the scientific method to work is because God is imaginary.

What GII is doing is drawing a line in the sand and saying that on this side are rational, science minded people while on the other side are superstitious and ignorant people who believe in God. No one wants to be ignorant and superstitious, so believing as scientists do becomes attractive.

Really, this is arguing by emotion rather than logic. Making your side sound more attractive and then inviting people to join it is the stuff of cults, which is exactly what GII is arguing against. They say that they want you to be free of religion and think for yourself, but this proof is really only inviting you to think like a scientist.

However, nothing is offered here to back up the mere assertion that scientists assume as a matter of course that God doesn't exist. Most of what they assert is simply a matter of worldview.

First, they acknowledge that miraculous cures are possible. The contrast is in the way a religious person views it versus the way a "rational" person views it. The religious person says that God performed a miracle and closes the book. The scientist attempts to figure out how the person was cured.

Worldview affects us here. The naturalist views the universe as a closed system that can't be affected by anything external to it. To the naturalist, the only things that can possibly affect the system are those things internal to it. Meaning that every effect has a cause that we can find within the system--and only within the system.

The theist also views the universe as a closed system, but believes that external systems could affect the universe in some fasion.

Science is capable of ascertaining causes from observed effects only if those causes are internal to the system being tested. The naturalist believes that only causes within the universe will generate effects that are observed by us. Observed effects will never have causes external to the system in which they occur.

A miracle cure, therefore, in the mind of the naturalist, has a cause within this system. The possibility of God acting from outside the universe in a way that creates such an observable effect is automatically excluded from consideration.

A miracle cure in the mind of the theist, however, is attributed to God without prejudice. God can reach into the universe and affect things within in ways that science can't test or understand. However, that isn't always the case with every single miracle cure. Which means that further testing and experimentation may offer us some benefits.

Why? Because a "miracle" could be one of two things. It could be the hand of God reaching into the system and changing it in a way that we aren't meant to be able to test or understand. Or, it could be a low-probablility interaction of perfectly natural laws and circumstances that we haven't observed before.

If the miracle is the hand of God himself, the results of any experiments wouldn't be repeatable. That means that this was a one time event that can't happen anymore, and was probably done for a specific reason to further God's own end.

This doesn't mean that we should just close the book. Events like these need to be understood because they have theological significance. They may also be clues to God's plan and reveal additional insights into God's character. As God is an intelligent agent (and therefore not testable by scientific experiments designed to test impersonal laws), this isn't testable scientifically. It must be reasoned through philosophically. Philosophy, therefore, is as key as science in understanding the natural order (contrary to what many atheists argue).

If the miracle was a low-probability interaction of natural circumstances, testing just why it happened in that specific way would be very helpful. In instances like these, the miracle cure could possibly be replicated and thus bring a great benefit to mankind.

The obvious remaining question is, "How can we tell the difference?" Sometimes, it's obvious. The Resurrection falls into the first category. It is an event that must be understood for its theological significance. Miracle cures for diseases, like the penicillin example, usually fall into the second category. They should be studied and tested scientifically, so that the benefits to mankind can be replicated.

Perhaps the apostle Paul said it the best: "but test everything; hold fast to what is good" (1 The 5:21).