Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can positing the existence of a Creator be a legitimate scientific hypothesis?

Can positing the existence of a Creator be a legitimate scientific hypothesis?

Darwinists like to jab Intelligent Design advocates with the accusation that postulating an intelligence cause for the biocomplexities of life is unscientific.

If God exists but science says you cannot hypothesize an intelligent source to life doesn't this tell us more about the self-limitations of the methods and assumptions of science than it does about God?

When people say something isn't scientific, they usually don't mean that it is beyond the finite mechanisms of science to determine its truth status.  What they usually mean is, "it's untrue, and it's ridiculous of you to believe it".

So, can positing the existence of a Creator be a legitimate scientific hypothesis?

5 comments:

jonathan said...

Well the main problem with why it can't be a scientific hypothesis also has to deal with the main problem with humans and their beliefs. If scientists were to test this hypothesis, remember for it to be scientific it has to be testable, over and over and over and finally come to the conclustion that god did not exist, what do you think would be the consensus of all of the believers? I can tell you what it would be. They would say:

"Well you obviously didn't test all possible avenues!"
"You were biased when you started the experimentation and that skewed your results!"
"God lives in the heart and not in any realm!"
"You didn't falsify anything, you just showed that you don't have the proper knowledge to test for god!"

This could really go on forever, so I'll just sum it up by saying that one cannot test for something that exists outside of the physical realm. Even if scientists hypothesize of another realm, test for it, and find evidence that it does exist, it ceases to be outside of the physical realm. That is because in order for us to test for it we must be connected to it in some way. Once it is verified then our physical realm expands and that 'outside realm' becomes part of our physical realm and since god exists in a realm outside of ours then he ceases to exist in the incorporated realm simply because it is no longer outside of our realm. This is my thought on this but another approach follows. If it was conclusively verified that god did not exist the odds are that believers would overlook this finding and continue to believe in their god despite evidence against it.

So in summary, no it cannot be a scientific hypothesis. Philosophically yes, scientific, no.

Ted Betts said...

Of course you can hypothesize a deity. Just like you can hypothesize that there are ghosts or an otherworld or a fourth dimension, as many scientists do.

The problem is that the very nature and definition of a deity is likely unprovable, unless the deity (if there is one) choses to disclose its existence in a concrete and direct way that can be recorded. Many many many times in history, an "act" or "event" has been held out as evidence of a god or God, only for science to find another reason as our knowledge expands (perhaps two of the best examples are the rotation of the planets and spontaneous creation of life which we now understand to be not spontaneous but from the growth of microscopic life).

"Intelligent design" is a hypothesis trying to mascerade as a thesis. I don't have any problem with the hypothesis that there is an ultimate designer. But for intelligent design this hypothesis ends up being the basis for the evidence (everything seems to well designed, fits together so intelligently that there simply must be a designer) and therefore the grounds for the thesis that 'yes, there is a designer'. Entirely self-referential and self-supporting and circular. And therefore unscientific.

RkBall said...

Jonathan -- I like your response, with one exception -- I don't think that science could prove that God didn't exist, just that he was not responsible for the material effect being considered.

RkBall said...

Ted -- "Entirely self-referential and self-supporting and circular. And therefore unscientific."

I think you had better take a fresh look at what the hypothesis of intelligent design actually states. It uses "inference to the best explanation", which was the basis in Darwin's day for his theory.

It's not circular. It's more like, a) there's information in the cell, b) information comes from minds, c) therefore the origin of the information in the cell is an intelligent mind. That's not circular, that's inductive.

By way of contrast, there's a lot of circular reasoning in neo-Darwinism... e.g., "because we know that evolution is true, an (unknown) evolutionary pathway must have produced "X"."

Joe_Agnost said...

RKBall wrote: "I think you had better take a fresh look at what the hypothesis of intelligent design actually states."

You have to look back frequently as the definition changes a lot!

http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com/2010/07/surprise-definition-of-id-has-evolved.html

Ball cont'd: "It's more like, a) there's information in the cell, b) information comes from minds, c) therefore the origin of the information in the cell is an intelligent mind."

The problem is that you're stuck on (b). You can't show that "information comes from minds".

And: "By way of contrast, there's a lot of circular reasoning in neo-Darwinism..."

Sigh... I really wish you'd take a day or 2 to actually learn what the evidence for the theory of evolution is... you clearly don't have a clue.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"