November 21, 2007

Experimental Sciences and the Existence of God

Note: some philosophical debates included here.

Who is God’ was a post in MEY, of that author, Nissim, who is trying to make a practical use of Common Sense in order to make the world a bit better. As usual, this big phenomenon called God, stimulated many people to comment on the subject, both Atheists and Theists... and again I failed to keep myself from the discussion.

In such debates, it is very common for people to ask/wonder if there is a ‘Proof’ for the existence of God. Honestly, I don’t know if there is such a flawless proof. But, besides my obsession about Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Gödel (footnote), I want to share another point here: Experimental Sciences are inherently unable to prove anything.

When a guess about the function of an observable phenomenon happens to explain it better than other guesses, it turns into a theory. But this theory (a) neither ensures prediction of future experiences, and (b) nor is able to prove that it is the best possible guess. The latter (b) means that probably we may find out later that this theory has already failed to cover some aspects of past occurrences neglected in out first assessment of the phenomenon and the guess related to it. And the former (a) translates into the fact that we can never gather all the causes which might influence phenomenon.

Then, what do Experimental Sciences do? They provide evidences for us to conclude what is more likely to be true. Since examples usually make a better sense, let me say that: using all those Mechanic Theories, some engineers fabricate an airplane and say: “as we know, this device is more likely to fly if guided in a proper way, and will land safely if directed by an experienced pilot. But for sure, nobody has ever guaranteed that it would work, for there are lots of already unknown causes which might affect the behavior of this device and let it fail.” This statement is obviously from a deterministic point of view, from that point which believes every effect has a cause. Those who do not believe in causality as a universal rule, they have a much harder time speaking about the probability of something, for probability is only valid when causality is considered a rule.

One might argue: “yeah, one day we may be able to conclude all possible causes, and that day, we may prove Experimental Theories: Since we know all the possible causes, we may exactly predict the next stage or behavior of every conceivable phenomenon, and that is called Proof.” But an answer is that if some possible causes decide not to reveal themselves to us (whatever the reason), we can never conclude them. Therefore they are able to return/appear at any given time, influence current phenomena and consequently theories, and refute them.

Finally, seeking for an Experimental Proof for anything (including the existence of God)... that is called Mission Impossible.

Footnote: Incompleteness Theorem of Kurt Gödel states that in every system of logics, there is at least one true statement which will never be proved; also, there is at least one false statement, which may never be refuted.

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