Sunday, 22 July 2007

Can God be Disproved?

Well, just think about that question for one second. 'Can God be disproved?' ...It starts with an affirmation in the positive, as if God already exists to be disproved. Read it again and you will get my meaning.

If I said , 'can flying pigs be disproved?' - one can see the point I'm making, the question starts with an assumption in the positive, that flying pigs exist to be disproved, which is a nonsensical oxymoron.

The reason that such questions are nonsensical and have no real meaning, is that they are formed, based on a proposition in the negative, it is like saying, 'can one prove an unprovable event' ...It is a negative claim, because there is no positive information that could be applied to produce evidence, either for or against.

The correct question, is not for a theist to ask an atheist: 'can God be disproved? - Which starts with the assumption that God is there to be disproved, this question can me dismissed as meaningless. The correct response towards a theist is 'it is you who are making a claim that God exists, it is therefore up to you to produce evidence for your claim' ...In other words, put up, or shut up. Now, I know that a theist might then say, 'yes, but I don't have to produce evidence, because my position relies on faith' ...Well, the correct response to that then is, 'OK then, if your position is purely based on faith and does not require evidence, stop asking me to disprove God then, you cannot have it both ways'.

It is not a strength in a theists argument to say 'you cannot prove God doesn't exist' ...although they like to claim it is. In reality it is an incredibly weak argument. Imagine an inventor who made a claim that he had invented a perpetual motion machine, but then said he had destroyed it and the plans. Now suppose that same scientist then said, 'you cannot prove I didn't invent it'... This is absolutely true of course, one could not prove it, but the fact that one cannot, does not make it true, it is just that one cannot prove a negative claim or assumption, because there is no evidence with which to work with to prove it...

One can of course, produce good scientific evidence, to show why a perpetual motion machine, could not be invented and this of course is a process of shrinking propositions, that could allow for a machine, capable of perpetuating its motion, without outside forces. This means that the more evidence one produces for machines needing fuel to be 'motivated' into action and if fuel runs down, so does the motion, it means the more evidence one produces against the proposition, the less probability of the likelihood of perpetual motion machines.

Just as the likelihood of perpetual motion machines, has shrunk to essentially zero, because our knowledge of the laws of physics has shrunk the gaps of knowledge to the point, where perpetual motion machines have been pushed into 'small corners' of unlikelihood. The same goes for God, one cannot disprove God directly, but the gaps in the universe, where it was convenient to say God did it, are shrinking as we find explanations to fill those gaps, so one could say, that God is being disproved as a needless concept, in a World that is being understood through scientific findings. In this regard the God concept is being disproved as a nonsensical proposition.

In Newtons day, most people believed in God, Including Isaac Newton. But look at the statistics for atheists within the scientific community. In particular, biologists and physicists, seem to be the most atheistic of all scientists. Once you get to the elite in the scientific community, the top 10% of scientists, then you are talking about a figure in the 90% region for atheism. The reason seems to be, the confrontation with reason within their own scientific disciple. It becomes virtually impossible to make those identifications in nature, that shrink the gaps for God and still believe in God.

Of course science does not work like that, if a scientist comes up with a hypothesis, it is his or her job to prove or disprove that hypothesis through evidence. A scientist would not simply make a claim that it is true and unless you can disprove it, then it must be so. Only the dishonesty of religion gets away with this.

Can God be disproved, no... But then again, neither can flying pigs. I have never seen a flying pig and if someone made a claim that they existed, by asking me to disprove them, what should I do? ...Nothing. The point is that there is no means by which I could disprove them. The same logic applies to the concept of God, it belongs in the same arbitrary category as flying pigs and so, if someone asks me to disprove God, what should I do, again, nothing whatsoever, other than maybe asking the person to present a shred of evidence in the favor of God, something I could work with, to disprove his or her claim. But then here we go again, they then immediately pull out the 'faith card' and say, 'I don't need evidence, because I have faith'. Fine, but in that case, don't expect me to waste my time trying to prove a negative speculation.

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Guitanguran said...

Flying pigs, hobgoblins, trolls, Bigfoot....

Mr. CS, you trot these examples out as if they're equivalent in scope. I've know of no flying pig that has made any claims to their 'flying piggyness', their ability to predict future events, or have left behind any archeological evidence that coincides with the narrative in their 'flying pig' bible that prompted anyone to believe in their flying ability. I don't ever recall 10 of the original 12 flying pig disciples martyring themselves for not disavowing the pig's ability to fly.


Around the old Fundamentalist locker-room, we typically refer to this as a highschool debate club level 'dodge', not to be confused with a hemi-equipped pickup. If you're going to be taken seriously by someone with my point of view. you'll get rid of your straw-pigs and get to where the rubber meets the road.

Craig Secularman said...

Well I'm sorry, I cannot respond to that, other to say that in my opinion they are exactly equivalent in scope.

The God concept, is as absurd as a belief in flying pigs would be. Tell me why the God concept is not equivalent to flying pigs, or fairies or any other mystically held belief? - that even its proponents says relies on faith and not evidence. If there really was evidence for God, then religion by definition would not be religion, it could join the realm of science as a physically aspect of reality. But where are the peer reviewed papers in scientific journals, presenting theories for God? - there aren't any.

Well, you talk about archaeological evidence, what such evidence do you have for God? - There isn't any. Here I am talking about the God of the Bible, but any of the monotheistic Gods could be substituted. All you have is a book of parables, handed down through tradition and believed on faith. Now there may well be the odd truth in the Bible that relates to an archaeological discovery, but would that be so unusual? ...of course not, the book was written by human beings after all. But what would that prove in terms of the God concept? ...It would prove absolutely nothing.

I'm sorry, but because I do not believe in God, I do not have to stoop to relying on beliefs grounded in mysticism, which are then put forward in debate, I don't need to do that... I have not knowingly dodged anything.

When I say flying pigs and God are comparable, I mean it and I mean it one hundred percent.

Please tell me why they are not comparable? ...what is the difference in believing in a God purely on faith, with absolutely, not one iota of evidence and flying pigs.... Because so far, you have not said anything that would present evidence of such a claim.

Of course, where the 'rubber would meet the road' is for you to produce evidence.

Guitanguran said...

"Tell me why the God concept is not equivalent to flying pigs, or fairies or any other mystically held belief?"

Thought I just did. Your comment about the Bible as being a collection of parables belies an ignorance of what's actually in it, or the significance thereof.

Point I was making was that historical and archeological evidence apart from Scripture indicates people, like David for example, were not merely subjects of parables or fictional characters designed to move the biblical narrative forward, but independent proof folks like him actually existed, during the time indicated in Scripture. To date, nothing in historical writings or of archeological finds contradict the Bible narrative. Seems like if the Bible is just a collection of parables, as you call it, we would have punched some definitive holes through contemporaneous historical writings and archeology, wouldn't ja' think? Obviously, there are instances where there is no corroborative evidence, but then again, we have enough gaps in fossil evidence to drive trucks through. I'll trade you gap for gap and call it even. With all that, I don't recall a flying pig bible (oh wait I already said that),etc.

Ohh look at the time! Well I'll finish up later.

Craig Secularman said...

If you read my post again you will note that I had already conceded that point, there may well be some factual events in the Bible... The fact that it was written by people is hardly surprising. Even most fiction novels carry an element of truth, otherwise they would end up being 'totally' unbelievable. So I will happily concede that all of the Bible is not necessarily parable and there may well be, some scattered elements of truth. But, I don't see what point that really makes. Even if you could prove that David existed, this would nor lead from a cause to effect identification where one could therefore say the Bible is historically accurate. Even if we grant that much of the Bible is historically accurate, it certainly doesn't therefore prove that God existed, that would be an extraordinary leap of faith... But of course, that is the leap that theists make.

Nothing contradicts the Bibles writings? ...Next you'll be telling me, you seriously believe in the parable of Noah's Ark as a literal event and not just a parable?

Here we go, the old gaps in the fossil record argument... yawn, I wondered when that one would come up. Well, what would be miraculous of course, would be if there were NO gaps in the fossil record, that of course would not be proof of Evolution by Natural Selection. palaeontologists are not spending their days thinking, "Oh dear, there are gaps in the fossil record" ...That is exactly what the expect to find.

British scientist J.B.S. Haldane, was once asked, what would constitute evidence against evolution? - famously responded, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian." They've never been found. Nothing like that has ever been found. Evolution could be disproved by such facts. But all the fossils that have been found are in the right place. Of course there are plenty of gaps in the fossil record. There's nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn't there be? We're lucky to have fossils at all. But no fossils have been found in the wrong place, such as to disprove the fact of evolution. Evolution is a fact.

Now, if Creationists really wanted to disprove evolution, that is the kind of evidence they should be looking for. But they keep coming up with flimsily (pathetic really) claims like 'gaps in the fossil record' 'never seen a cat change into a dog' 'contradicts the second law of thermodynamics' (which it doesn't of course) ...etc. The point is, they are not looking for any evidence that could overthrow Evolution by Natural Selection, they are just putting up one straw man after another.

Guitanguran said...

So, we go from:

" odd truth in the Bible that relates to an archaeological discovery...'


"...there well may be some factual events in the Bible..."

Better watch that slippery slope Mr. Hawkins, no telling where it will lead you.

Seriously, there are factual events in the Bible that aren't seriously challenged, yet all you can do is allow that there 'may be' some factual events? If you're not going to be intellectually honest in this discussion, I may need to go bother somebody else.

Noah's Ark? Honestly, that can be a tough one, even for me(how's that for intellectual honesty?). At this point, I do have to approach it from this point of view. If I'm to give God credit as the Creator with all the power and intellect needed to create a universe, I cannot logically say He can't get the sewers to back up here locally, help a guy build a boat, fill it with animals, etc, etc. That would be me...intellectually putting God into a box, saying He's limited in what he can do. Typically that's where the wheels go off for folks like you. I'm trying to be consistent here.

Might not like the "gaps" arguement, but if you're selling evolution, what else can you say other than you're expecting gaps to be there? Darwin himself indicated that the millions of examples of transitional animals needed to confirm his theory would be problematic at best. Why? With millions of animals needed, we're only getting...what? Compared to that argument, I'm sticking with Noah.

Craig Secularman said...

I really do have to respond to your comment on 'my 'intellectual dishonesty'. I'm sorry but that is just an ad hominem.

I am not being aware of being dishonest in any way whatsoever... I am just speaking my mind as I see it. Once you start throwing accusations around then, who is being the dishonest one?

Strength in debate, comes from attacking the comment and not the individual who makes the comment.

How am I being dishonest in saying that even a book of fiction occasionally contains some factual events. I also said, that the Bible was written by human beings, so it would not be surprising if there was the odd historical correlation in it. But even with that as a given, the Bible is still mostly parable.

Now, I was not saying there is any historical information in the Bible, I was mealy making the point that it would not be surprising if there was an odd 'grain' of truth sprinkled here and there. I was actually trying to be kind to you. But if you want it in full black and white terms... I think the whole Bible is bull.

And you call me dishonest for that? I'm sorry but that is beyond the pale. Can we not just stick to the debate and not throw ad hominims around.

I'm not trying to "sell" evolution. It's already "sold". The evidence is astronomically overwhelming, we are talking about millions of scientific facts from many converging different scientific disciplines.

Also, most of these scientists do not even know each other and come to their findings independently. That is why Evolution by Natural Selection is also know as a "theory of convergence" ...Because the facts converge independently from many different scientific disciplines in a non-contradictory manner.

I thought Blogging was suppose to be a friendly atmosphere, where yes individuals can disagree... But they can do so in a friendly manner and not start name calling.

Guitanguran said...

Well, to clarify, I was referring to a particular instance related to this particular discussion. I think its healthy and useful to take account as well as be accountable to others. Sometimes we all start coloring outside the lines, given enough paper...If you count that as an ad hominem attack, can't help you there.

Friendly? Guess you haven't been in my shoes around atheist websites lately. Good thing I'm a thick-skinned Christian, or I'd be continually offended.

Even so, if it came across that way to you, I apologize.

On a more lighter note, according to you, I just can't help myself, can I?

"So, would I go as far to call religion a mental disease of the mind... Yes, I would."

Far be it from me to be offended at being called a lunatic, at least by association.

Not sure that religion as a mental disease would be of anything other than the mind, however. A disease of the foot, perhaps?

Related to the Bible as a work of fiction sprinkled with a fact or two, how much fiction is there compared to corroborated facts? As you brought it up as such, I think it a fair question.

Another issue that I'd like clarified, is the term you keep associating with me,
'creationist'. I'm not sure how old the earth or the universe is. I'm not sure how long it took to get where we are now. What I can say is the Genesis account pretty well covers the high points in a sequence pretty much in line with 'accepted' science. Evidence, which I'm open to, is still coming in. So, does that make me a 'creationist'?

Point being for me, its never been about exactly how.Its about Who. Well shoot, I guess that does make me a creationist, eh?

Craig Secularman said...

Well firstly I never called you a creationist. I did ask you what you were, but you seemed a bit cagey. But your arguments are no different to any Creationists argument. I've heard all your arguments before.

And no I wasn't offended in the slightest. It was you who I thought 'had thrown the toys out of the pram' by saying it was impossible to debate with me because I was being intellectually dishonest and you were going to leave. I'm fairly thick skinned too... so no I couldn't care.

As to my point of religion being a disease of the mind. Well, I'm not really saying anything new there. Richard Dawkins has made the same point by calling it a delusion of the mind, Sam Harris has called it a bad software program running on the brain, Frank R. Wallace has said of it, that it poisons the mind with pockets of mysticism and Christopher Hitchens has called it, well 'every name under the Sun'.

The simply fact is that relgion does distort the mind with mysticism, so I don't think it is stretching it to call it a mental disease of the mind. Indeed, the more honestly relgious one becomes, that is the more effort one puts in to follow religion as a literalist, then the more disconnected from reality one becomes. Indeed, religious honesty, by definition means dishonesty qua reality... Because, by its very nature, to use the words of Frank R. Wallace, it traps one in bubbles of mysticism'

Guitanguran said...

"It was you who I thought 'had thrown the toys out of the pram' by saying it was impossible to debate with me."

Never said "impossible" did I?

Toys out of the pram? Hawk (I can call you Hawk, can't I? You can call me rw, if you like)you must be across the water. GB, I take it.

Guess I need add to my blog that atheists seem to lack a sense of humor...or at least they don't cotton to mine.

Never said you called me a creationist, did I? There was an association I was getting, however. I wanted your assessment based on my commentary to date.

Cagey? Well, what good would it do to whack you with a Bible and demand you stop this atheism nonsense this very instant? Oh, that would've stopped you in your tracks for sure, eh? End of story, close down the blog, and start swapping notes on eschatology...

I would like to think that as atheists I've talked to make a point about arriving at atheism through science, rational thought, reason, etc., and that their perception of Christians (especially the fundamental variety)are slope-headed nincompoops, that someone that can argue a point, with or without Scripture might dissuade them of that stereotype. Might not dissuade them of my run-on sentences, but you get the idea...

Having had an opportunity to discuss things with me at length, do you consider my mind to be distorted? Am I suffering from a mental disease?

BTW, how much of the Bible is factual, do you think? Wild guess...take a shot.

Craig Secularman said...

Not quite sure that makes sense. The fact that I'm an atheist and you think I have no sense of humour, therefore 'atheists have no sense of humor'. As if somehow my lack of sense of humor can be used as a meta analysis to suggest atheist are humorless. You might as well say, I don't like football... Therefore people who are not football fans have no sense of humor.

And yes, I wasn't being serious in the last paragraph. Though it does make sense kind of.

As for the whack me with a Bible quip... Here I'll show you that I do have a sense of humor. I am reminded of a Michael Shermer joke:

He had just been to a Pen and Teller magic show and they did the 'Catch the bullet in the teeth trick' I'm sure you've seen it. Anyway, Shermer was a volunteer to sign the bullet. The trick was performed and all went well. Shermer got to keep the bullet as a souvenir. He put it in the breast pocket of his jacket. A few days later, he was walking out of a hotel and he was wearing the same jacket. He heard someone shouting, he looked up and a crazed Christian Evangelist had hurled a Gideon's Bible out of the hotel window. It hurtled towards Shermer, he ducked, but the Bible struck him on the chest... If it wasn't for that bullet, that Bible would have gone right through his heart.

Well, I can't honestly say how I arrived at my atheism... I was certainly an atheist form a very young age and can never remember being religious in anyway whatsoever. I was an atheist long before I had read any Darwin, Dawkins or E O . Wilson.

Your quite right of course, you could not stop me with this 'atheist nonsense'. But the fact is that people do lose their religion through rational argument, it happens... If you go to and click on converts corner... Many of these people were talked out of their religion through reasoned argument.

But I suggest converting an atheist to religion is a little more difficult, the fact is to convert an atheist to religion, you have little reasoned argument to work with. Now it is true that the odd atheist does convert to religion, I will concede that point, but it is as rare as hens teeth.

Also to move onto another religion for a second, check out an excellent book by Ibn Warraq, called 'Leaving Islam' ...It shows that Islam is not as stable as one might think. Now it is true that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the World, but what you are rarely told, is that people are leaving in increasing numbers almost at the same rate that people are joining. Most of these people are not converting to another religion, though a few are, they are becoming atheists. I suspect there are many more atheists in countries like Saudi Arabia than most of us suspect. The only reason they 'play the game' is because they have to. Look how quickly fundamentalism fell away in the Dark Ages after the renaissance bought about an enlightenment.

At the Beyond Belief conference, Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA from November 5-7, 2006 some of the top scientists in the World gathered to asks serious questions on the nature of religion and the serious problems it is now creating round the World. From the many studies that were shown at the conference, there seemed to be a consensus of opinion, that there is a definite shift in the moral zeitgeist... People are leaving religion in their droves, they have quite simply, had enough of religious bullying. You can watch the videos of the Beyond Belief Conference here: .

Churches in most of Europe now have very low subscriptions and indeed, Churches are struggling to stay open, most of Europe is largely secular. In a recent study, Swden in particular came out very high in polls, with 80% of the population being atheist... I think the UK is at around 40% ...These are obviously not small numbers. America seems to be an exception and it has been identified, that this is probably because in America, religion has become 'big business and free enterprise' ...But even in America numbers seem to be dwindling. At a recent talk at the Town Hall in Seattle, Christopher Hitchens said he had to move into a Church to give his talk on his book 'God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything' ...Because he got such a large audience they could not fit into the hall... Now if you do not find that funny, then you have no sense of humor. Also and this is telling, the pastor of the church came up to Hitchens and wispered that his church had never been so full.

Why would I take a shot at how much of the Bible is accurate (if any), I have absolutely no idea, then again neither do you and neither does anyone else. Does that somehow weaken my case, I think not.