Re: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

Kai Henningsen (
17 May 1995 18:25:00 +0100 wrote on 15.05.95 in <>:

> In article <>, (Kai
> Henningsen) wrote:

> > 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.


The scenario I'm speaking of is someone claiming "here, X was caused by
God", or even "whenever you do Z, God does Y", with X and Z observable and
examinable phenomena. That's something science can look at, and come to

In fact, it has done so numerous times, the conclusion being "sorry,
nothing there". However, there's always the chance that a different
conclusion may be reached.

In that case, we'd have some "real" phenomenon that is called "God" by
someone. Then we can look for more information on that phenomenon, sifting
facts from myth and arriving at an useable definition.

That's how it works - you always have only nebulous or even outright wrong
concepts as long as science hasn't had its pass at the stuff.
_Afterwards_, you have the precise definitions.

However, as long as that doesn't happen, people like me will be convinced
that there is no God, whatever the definition.

> > 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

Including the double negative, please. It's quite correct - you get the
definitions only when you do not get the current result, which is "no God

> God, which of course means that you have proven the existance of God. But

Huh?! Maybe that's the result of incorrectly dropping a negative?

> 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.

Well, it's definitely _not_ what I'm saying.

_What_ I'm saying is: _If_ God exists, then he is some sort of natural
phenomenon, just like me and you. So, to get a grip on the subject, we
need to find some effects that are caused by him - which we have not
managed until now.

If he doesn't exist, then not finding anything is, of course, just what is
to be expected.

However, if he _does_ exist, then there's no good reason why such effects
should not be findable. Once we find those, we can find out more about
what he is - in fact, we will probably prove his existence then.

I don't expect it to happen. However, it's certainly possible.

> > Let's get a little more concrete.
> This sounds like fun!

> But lack of evidence is not proof now is it? Let's take your "concrete"

Of course not. I never said it was. I was talking about the (hypothetical)
opposite situation.

> 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

Well, give me those phenomena to look at, and I may just come up with
something. However, it's a bit much to expect someone to design something
only on the basis of a very short and decidedly non-scientific description
by a layman (like what's found in the Bible).

> phenomena are rare so you must plan carefully, possibly by starting with

Well, that's just what I was complaining about, isn't it? Currently, we
have _nothing_.

On the other hand, suppose we'd get this "stopping the sun" stuff _today_,
with all our knowledge and technology about astronomy. We should be able
to learn _something_ then. Of course, I've got no idea what that would be.

> the resurrection of the dead (the most common of the attributes).

Well, to be useable, that would need someone reliably documented to be
dead, who could then be examined after being resurrected. Only after such
an examination could we possibly know what to look for next - it all
depends on what we'd find.

You know, "resurrection of the dead" really doesn't say anything except
he's dead before, he's living afterwards. The only thing science can do on
that basis is have as good a look as possible on both sides, and start by
getting a more accurate description about what changed.

Look at all the literature about resurrecting dead people. Those that give
an "explanation" use dozens, maybe hundreds of different mechanisms.

Just imagine that mankind had, unto this day, lived in caves, with only a
few tales about how it looks outside. How would you then design an
experiment to find out what the sun is? Impossible. You first have to get
out of the cave and look at that thing. "It's very bright and makes you
hot" isn't enough. However, with respect to God, that's the situation we
currently are in.

> 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

You're trying to put the cart before the horse. First, observations, then
hypotheses and theories, and only then experiments with controls. We don't
have the observations, so we cannot devise any experiments - we don't yet
have any theories to test.

> 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.

Umm ... that, of course, assumes that it would be "expensive" science. We
don't know that, either.

> 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

Umm ... you got my idea all wrong. My position is that God (if there) _is_
a natural phenomenon. Just like you and me. (Umm ... do I repeat myself?

> were due to contamination. No other group has been able to repeat your
> experiments...

... in wich case we have a contradiction to the premise, that there _is_
something tangible.

That would just be what we have today. The whole idea is based on the
premise that this would _not_ happen, that the situation was different
from the way it is today.

> You're results come up negative--there is no God. How can you be sure?

Not my problem. I've never said science could disprove God. I said that
_if_ there was a God, and _if_ he didn't play hide-and-seek with us, then
science should be able to _prove_ him. Just like we proved the existence
of the atom - when the idea was concieved, we had no better idea how to do
this that we have today how to prove 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

Well, _if_ there was "something there", then I'd expect it wouldn't
exactly conform to anybodys expectation. That's what generally happens
when myths become science.

> So let me repeat. The existence of God is NOT a scientific question!

Well, _you_ certainly have not shown this :-)

Anyway, let me repeat again (it's getting boring): _If_ God exists, and
_if_ there's something to observe, _then_ the existence of God is a
scientific question, just as much as the existence of the atom.

If there was no such thing as an atom, then the "existence of the atom"
would probably not be a scientific question. If the existence of the atom
wouldn't make a difference (nothing to observe), then it definitely
wouldn't be a scientific question.

Bottom line: "The existence of God is NOT a scientific question" is not
the same as, but _very_ similar to "there is no God".

Let's attack this at a slightly lower level. The existence of the mythical
tooth fairy is not a scientific question. However, suppose someone could
capture a tooth fairy - then it would suddenly _become_ a scientific
question. (And we'd probably get a "tooth fairy protection liga" :-))

> 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

This is, of course, nonsense. Note, again, that I never talked about
disproving ...

> 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.

Well, so then the research gets done on this side of the pond :-)


Bang: major_backbone!!kai
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