Our Science is often imperfect: Why we shouldn’t rule out God.

I have heard so very much lately from militant atheists claiming that anything that science hasn’t devised a method for testing cannot be rationally considered in one’s word view. My personal experiences, and those of the billion or so other people throughout history claiming some contact with “the divine” in same way, cannot be validated, and continued assertion that the experiences have value is some sort of mental defect.

One man even went so far as to claim that faith cannot survive rational examination, because no one who has faith can be rational. This relied on him equating the words “rather than” to the words “in spite of” in the definition of the word Faith.

Certainly, science requires a lot from the world in terms of proof. Direct experience is often discounted, and rightly so. In law enforcement, witness testimony is widely held to be the weakest form of evidence. People see what they are looking for rather than what is there, focusing on details rather than looking at the big picture.

The mountain gorilla was detailed in a paper published in the Boston Journal of Natural History in December 1847. The official date of the “discovery” of the species is in 1902. Science didn’t trust the skeletal remains and first hand accounts until a corpse was provided.

The story of the platypus is, not surprisingly, very similar.

Science has had a long history of denying things that they just haven’t found a way to test subjectively. There are many advances in neuroscience that are, in essence, proving the mind to be capable (on a small scale) of things that would have only been dismissed as magic 50 years ago. Precognition, telepathy, and other forms of extra-sensory perception are being given a lot of consideration in modern scientific journals. In most cases, the conclusion has been that the results are significant to warrant further study.

To get to my point, finally, science is too hard on God. And, yes, I am being serious. I don’t think that it is unfair to say that no less than a billion people though out history have had an experience that seemed supernatural. Personal accounts of hundreds of thousands of people can be read right here on the internet.

Science demands proof of God, which is fine, but there cannot be proof, because of the supposed nature of God: Something beyond time and space as we know it. Nothing which can be adequately measured by science can be God. If a miracle happens, like a disease being cured, then science explains it away as having been remotely possible, and that is fair enough; medicine has a much better track record than prayer. Even if a creature showed up and cured the disease in some direct fashion, science would, again rightly, postulate some advanced technology that we don’t understand. Just as any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic, so would our understanding of technology always lead us to rule out magic. Again, science is not religion, and it should always strive to distinguish its self from superstition.

It is important to remember that science rarely comes up with neat explanations that account for all data, though. No image of massive ramps will ever satisfy the human need to see wonder in the building of the pyramids. There is no scientific explanation for the annual occurrence of the Naga Fireballs, or the honest-to-god raining down of a single type of animal on a geographic area. Sure, science can speculate, but they can’t even satisfactorily explain the water damage on the great sphinx, presumably build long after the region had turned to desert.

Millions of people alive today have had experiences that they describe as “divine”. This is not to say that none of these claims are exaggerated or misinterpreted, but they also should not be so quickly dismissed. The personal experience of others is all the proof most of us have for the existence of wild mountain gorillas, the the roundness of the Earth. We accept the mutual consent of scientists that some things are true. We recognize that the methods they use could be duplicated, indeed have been, in order to reach the same conclusions. But many reject the idea that the plethora of personal experiences with the divine could also teach us anything important.

No, I am not saying that I think any one prophet has ever understood The Divine Plan. I’m not even saying that there is one. But I am saying that denying the very concept of God, simply because you have not had a personal experience with it, is intellectually dishonest. Science is constantly expanding the horizons of what we know about the universe. It has found that particles can exist in 2 (or more) places at once and that things both cannot, and do in fact, move faster than the speed of light. We live in a strange universe. A super-natural entity really isn’t that much of a logical leap compared to what we already think we know.

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One Response

  1. Think, rather, of “a Divine Intention”. Perhaps: “Some day the children will be grown up, and reconciled to us despite our mutual scars-of-upbringing?” This sort of thing doesn’t necessarily come down to planning the menu for the Messianic Banquet — although the Rabbis are expecting roast Behemoth & Leviathon!

    “Objectivity” doesn’t have to mean “visible to everyone’s eye.” I have a minor irregularity of color vision; my wife is probably one of those women with four visual pigments instead of three. If I’m throwing a lot of red into a painting, or trying to decide if some tannish shade is reddish or greenish, I’ll ask her for feedback. If the issue is how wild-&-crazy a painting should get — I will continue to admire her marvelous realism, and go right on with what I can do well, over her objections if need be. But I know I miss some subtle, but physically real distinctions.

    A person with math phobia can’t even see a perfectly clear proof of the Pythagorean Theorem, right in front of him. We know it’s “objective” because anybody who speaks ‘math’ — and even many people who don’t — can look at the diagram and see how it would work with any right triangles whatsoever.

    What’s “inside” each human being is at least as “objective” as anything we observe or conjecture about the physical world and the existence of our brains within it. More than that, it’s our primary data!

    Details of experience vary from person to person, so ‘nummy!’ vs ‘yucky!’ is often subjective. Every person’s coding of experience into our little neural nets is different. But “experiencing” itself? Very hard to distinguish from “what’s experienced”, but there it is!

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