Re: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

Yasha Hartberg (
15 May 1995 16:22:29 GMT

In article <>, (Kai
Henningsen) wrote:

> wrote on 06.05.95 in
> > In article <>, (Kai
> > Henningsen) wrote:
> > > Not quite. If God exists _and_causes_no_observable_phenomena_, then
> > > science can't tell us about that. If he _did_ cause such phenomena,
> > > science _could_ tell us about it.
> > >
> > > The interesting part is that religions often _do_ claim that he causes
> > > observable phenomena ...
> >
> > No, I'm afraid you are still missing the point. Science _could_ tell us
> > about it it God _did_ cause such phenomena, IF AND ONLY IF, there existed
> > an absolute set of unambiguous parameters to define God. That criterion
> > cannot be met, therefore the experiment you have proposed is meaningless.
> > Whatever phenomena you are studying are simply natural phenomena without
> > the definition of God.
> Well, if you argue from the premise that God isn't a natural phenomenon,
> then of course that's where you end.

No, you end there by the lack of an absolute set of defining parameters.
Whether God has any bearing on natural phenomena or not has absolutely
nothing to do with it.

> If, on the other hand (as is, I'd argue, the only proper way), you begin
> such a hypothetical examination by saying "these are the phenomenons
> attributed to God", then you should be able tom devise a set of parameters
> explaining what God is and does - if, of course and as is currently
> happening, your conclusion is not that you don't need any sort of God to
> explain your phenomenon.

Again, look at your defining parameters. By your argument above (minus
the double negative--I'm assuming that you are saying that God is not
needed to explain natural phenomena), then any natural phenomenon could be
God, which of course means that you have proven the existance of God. But
you've cheated in the process. All you have really done is defined God to
be synonymous with, say, entropy. I'm sorry, that simply doesn't work.

> Let's get a little more concrete.

This sounds like fun!

> The Bible (to take only one family of religions) contains tales about
> numerous interactions that should be approachable by science, if they only
> happened where scientists could look into them - such as speeking, burning
> bushes, suns standing still, seas parting, angels appearing, people
> getting resurrected, and so on.
> The whole reason people talk about God being outside science is because
> all these phenomena never seem to happen anywhere they could be
> scientifically examined - which is why many people (including me) conclude
> they don't happen at all.
> However, assuming there _was_ something you could call "God", there's no
> reason why these things _should_not_ be easily observable, except if he
> intentionally tries to make things difficult. There's no reason God could
> not easily be an examinable thing.

But lack of evidence is not proof now is it? Let's take your "concrete"
example and define God by the parameters you have described, namely God is
that force which creates burning, speaking bushes, stops the movement of
the sun, parts the sea, creates apparitions, and resurrects the dead. Now
design a series of experiments to prove or disprove the existence of a
unifying force behind these phenomena. By all accounts all these
phenomena are rare so you must plan carefully, possibly by starting with
the resurrection of the dead (the most common of the attributes).
However, what are your controls? You have to have some sort of positive
control to prove that your technique is working and that it is capable of
demonstrating a positive result. You also must have some sort of negative
control to not only show that your technique won't give spurious positive
results but also that your technique is capable of giving an accurate
negative answer. Hmmm, not very easy. The best positive control would be
something with God while the best negative control would be something
without God, but that's what you're trying to show. So you have to use
the next best thing, the presence and abscence of something exhibiting
properties similar to God. Nothing suitable shows up in the Fisher
catalog. Well, it's Monday morning and I'm not at my most creative so
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you are able to devise
a set of experiments and get a grant from NSF to go to work.

Now comes the real trouble.

Let's say you're results come up positive--there is a God. Well, are you
sure? After all, you're results may be consistent with the existence of
God, but are you sure there is no other possible interpretation? Might
not your results simply be reporting on a hitherto unknown natural
phenomenon? Your theoretical work is already being heavily contested by a
number of prominent physicists and while your experiments were verified by
researchers at Texas A&M, closer investigation showed that the results
were due to contamination. No other group has been able to repeat your

Haven't been very successful, have we? Let's see how the other side gets along.

You're results come up negative--there is no God. How can you be sure?
After all, you're results may be consistent with the non-existence of God,
but are you sure there are no other possible interpretations? The most
you can really say is that God is not defined by the parameters you
tested. You are forgetting one of the most important pramaters, the
Church is quick to point out; the Lord works in mysterious ways. God may
simply be uncooperative, avoiding your experimental apparatus, he is after
all all-powerful. Who are you, a mere human, to claim to know the mind of
God?! ...

In the meantime, the Hopi were never concerned because you clearly weren't
defining their gods within you're experimental design. I'd say your
chances of getting a grant renewal are nil!

So let me repeat. The existence of God is NOT a scientific question!
Unfortunately, too few people realize this and, especially in such realms
as evolutionary theory, abiogenesis, and the Big Bang, scientists are
being accused of trying to disprove the existence of God. This is
creating a tremendous backlash against the whole of scientific research.
At least in part this is contributing to the growing trend toward
religious fundamentalism. If such a movement gains much more momentum, we
may find it almost impossible to get funding to do research in areas which
the people at large consider to challenge the existence of God.

Yasha Hartberg
Texas A&M University
"The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald's." Andy Warhol