Monday, March 9, 2009

What Evidence Would Disprove God?

I didn't post this weekend. For one thing I had to work both Saturday and Sunday, and for another, on Saturday night I completely forgot about Daylight Saving Time, probably because it starts so early in the year now (stupid Congress). I had set my alarm clock (I hate a world where we are forced to "alarm" ourselves out of sleep; in a just world wouldn't we be allowed to wake up naturally, after our bodies have had all the rest they need?) for my usual morning wake up time (allowing, as always, for a good number of snooze button hits) but failed to set it ahead one hour. When I was finally up (before the alarm went off, as will sometimes happen, and then I usually fall asleep again) I checked my cell phone (I have some crazy "night owl" friends who are unaware that not everyone is that species of owl, so they often call or text message after hours) and noticed the time. You never saw someone shave, shower and dress so fast in your life, but at least I now know it's possible, and that it's also possible to barrel down the freeway on a Sunday morning going well over the posted speed limit without being pulled over by a cop. I did make it to work on time, but not all did. I wasn't the only one to overlook the tyranny of artificial time, as several were late arriving. I never recovered from losing that hour, and was too tired for much of anything for the rest (what a beautiful word that is) of the day.

Which finally brings me to the following, from comments I made here in response to the blog author, Victor Reppert.

The idea that God might have a good reason for not preventing evil that you don't understand, (and even some that you might understand) is swept aside, of course.

Yes, of course, all suffering and evil, even that endured by the most defenseless, must somehow, in some mysterious way, be necessary. Is every last second of suffering by a child dying of cancer necessary? Is there a good reason for it? Remember, we're talking about an omnipotent god to whom nothing is impossible. You are asserting, without argument, that God must allow each instant of suffering and evil for some greater purpose or good and that He must know there is no other way to achieve such good without such suffering because He is omniscient. But this is simply begging the question. Just another theistic "mystery"; how convenient for theism (classical theism with a tri-omni god, that is).

One claim of many Christians and other theists is that nothing would prove god to a hard hearted atheist. Even miracles would be explained away as hallucinations, or aliens with advanced technology working behind the scenes. But this is nonsense. Atheism is easily falsified, while theism is inherently unfalsifiable. No matter what occurs, no matter what the state of our knowledge of the universe, there is always room for a god, especially if that god "works in mysterious ways" and chooses to remain hidden.

There are plenty of examples that would falsify atheism, however, or cause someone to at least consider that god may be real after all. If amputees were to regrow limbs after being prayed for, I would consider that good evidence for theism.

What would falsify theism? Is there any occurrence or any scientific discovery that would disprove the existence of God? Is there any statement, that, if proven true, would disprove the existence of God? If all the apparently needless suffering that a supposedly all good, all powerful, all knowing god allows hasn't already disproved the existence of the god of classical theism, what would? And suppose god is not "all good", even disregarding the Problem of Evil (which does, essentially, disprove the tri-omni God) what would falsify any god's existence? It is theism that is truly unfalsifiable.


  1. I think we have to think in terms of disconfirmation. And some things do disconfirm theism, and others could disconfirm it. Whether these things disconfirm theism decisively depends upon a person's prior probabilities.

  2. Many living things have evolved with the ability to repair damage to parts of themselves.

    Logically that has nothing to do with gods or prayers. To attribute regrowing limbs to prayer is to commit the fallacy of "post hoc ergo propter hoc".

  3. Just because some critters can regrow limbs naturalistically doesn't mean that it might not be miraculous if humans do it. I don't see humans doing it very often!

  4. Hi Dr. Reppert,

    That's for stopping by and commenting. Overall I find you to be very fair, and I appreciate that, even though I think you're wrong on the evidence for Christianity.

    I do think traditional theism is disconfirmed, but I don't know that it can ever be "decisively" disconfirmed. I probably will have more to say on this in the future.

    David, I have to agree with Victor on this one. Humans have not evolved with the ability to regrow limbs, so I don't know what your point is. If people started regrowing missing arms and legs after praying to God or Jesus, how would you explain it? I'd have to go with God.

  5. SE,

    I agree with you about the growing limbs back thing.

    Also, the special pleading invoked by Christians concerning the suffering of children is disgraceful. I got into it recently with a priest about those babies that burned to death in their incubators. I like my words I gave him:

    If I had the power to prevent a baby from burning to death I would use it. Perhaps you will say God had a reason for not doing so. But being omni-this-and-that, it seems he coulda figured out a work around.


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