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Thread: Can religion be empirically proven?

  1. #1
    highfidelity
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    Can religion be empirically proven?

    Many atheists consider religious claims of the existence of a supernatural reality as unproven due to a lack of evidence. A central concept in the scientific method is that all evidence must be empirical, or empirically based, that is, dependent on evidence or consequences that are observable by the senses.

    But what if the supernatural reality religion describes can't be proven empirically?

    Religious people have said that the objective study of religion leaves out the very part of religion that counts - it analyses the externals but misses the core of the matter. Science may offer descriptions of religion that are meticulously accurate in external details, but in those descriptions people of faith don't recognise the substance of that in which they are involved.


    Here is a quote from "The Meaning and End of Religion" by Wilfred Cantwell Smith

    "This argument would have it that in some degree all religions deal with what is holy, transcendent, infinite; and that therefore the attempt to subject them to rational analysis, empirical investigation, comparison and human interpretation is not only impious but vain. By accusations of irreverence modern man, particularly scientific man, is not much deterred: he will scrutinise all that is before him, sacrosanct or no. But before the other half of this charge he must, if honest, pause: that his scrutiny of holy things is vitiated by the inherent inappropriateness of the method to the material"

    Is the empirical scientific method capable of finding the essential substance religion deals with or is the method itself inherently flawed in the study of super-natural claims?

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    Volcanic Erupter SoylentGreen's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: highfidelity View Post
    Is the empirical scientific method capable of finding the essential substance religion deals with or is the method itself inherently flawed in the study of super-natural claims?
    I would ask the question, why should science even be interested in something that has absolutely no existence within the physical natural world?
    Theism is a personal, subjective, faith based belief.

    Despite that the theists insist that their beliefs be taken as real and should be used to create the laws and social structures of society.

    If they want to insist that their personal belief should be held by others then the onus is on them to give some good reasoning as to why and some good evidence as to the existence of their god.

    The only reasonable and logical method of showing something exists is through scientific method.

    If they do not agree then let them give good reason as to why and also show an acceptable alternative.

    Your OP whether you intend it or not is just another example of theists attempting to shift the burden of proof from themselves and onto science to prove their god exists.

  3. #3
    highfidelity
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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Quote by: SoylentGreen View Post
    I would ask the question, why should science even be interested in something that has absolutely no existence within the physical natural world?
    Theism is a personal, subjective, faith based belief.
    Why should science restrict itself to the physical natural world? Maybe the reason for this lack of interest and desire to restrict itself to the physical is caused by the inherent limitations of the method itself.


    Despite that the theists insist that their beliefs be taken as real and should be used to create the laws and social structures of society.

    If they want to insist that their personal belief should be held by others then the onus is on them to give some good reasoning as to why and some good evidence as to the existence of their god.
    I would agree with the part that says they should give some good reasoning why their ideals should be considered in creating the laws and structures of society, but wonder why you insist they must prove god exists in order for their views to be accepted as worthy of consideration. Theists are part of this social structure aren't they? From my perspective you are imposing your scientific method and beliefs on society in the same way you accuse theists of doing. No one suggested their beliefs should be held by others.


    The only reasonable and logical method of showing something exists is through scientific method.

    If they do not agree then let them give good reason as to why and also show an acceptable alternative.
    I believe my post is questioning this very assumption - "The only reasonable and logical method of showing something exists is through scientific method" Could you justify this statement in some way?

    All religions share the view that the scientific method is not the instrument needed to 'prove' the existence of the super-natural realm. They all outline alternatives. Why do you consider them all unacceptable?


    Your OP whether you intend it or not is just another example of theists attempting to shift the burden of proof from themselves and onto science to prove their god exists.
    Actually, I am questioning the assumption that the scientific method is capable of proving god exists. Burden of proof is a scientific requirement that has been imposed on theists - if we don't comply we are charged with being delusional and our views unworthy of being considered even in the society we are part of.

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    Volcanic Erupter
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    Quote Quote by: SoylentGreen View Post
    I would ask the question, why should science even be interested in something that has absolutely no existence within the physical natural world?
    Uh, because every scientific question started out the exact same way?? The fact that science currently has no method for verifying that idea in no way invalidates it. Are you really so certain that science should not be interested in the theory of a creator?? Should all scientific ideas be ignored until supporting evidence is found? Which should come first, the idea, or the evidence?

    Quote Quote by: highfidelity View Post
    Many atheists consider religious claims of the existence of a supernatural reality as unproven due to a lack of evidence.
    But in fact it's the atheists that insist a creator would require "supernatural" abilities.
    I upped my income, up yours.

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    Sapere Aude Jack's Avatar
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    Why should science restrict itself to the physical natural world? Maybe the reason for this lack of interest and desire to restrict itself to the physical is caused by the inherent limitations of the method itself.
    The method itself was developed in order to provide a way to investigate natural evidence in a way that human bias was least likely to be introduced.

    The whole goal of science is to understand the natural world based on what we discover from examining natural, physical evidence, drawing temporal conclusion and making predictions based on those examinations.

    Do you see a trend here? Natural, evidence, nature, physical, all terms that relate to our physical, natural world. It is beyond the purview of science to investigate claims of the unnatural, that which lacks physical evidence, the supernatural. It's like asking a geologist to fix your plumbing. That's not what he's trained to do. Science is neither equipped or designed to investigate claims of the supernatural. That's why humans invented philosophy.

    But in fact it's the atheists that insist a creator would require "supernatural" abilities.
    Well, since some people pushing that concept can't seem to come up with a coherent definition for what they mean by "creator" anyone is free to presume anything about it they wish. It seems to me that anything beyond natural processes capable of creating the universe would by its presumed attributes have to be supernatural.


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    Quote Quote by: Jack View Post
    It seems to me that anything beyond natural processes capable of creating the universe would by its presumed attributes have to be supernatural.
    So you are aware of and understand all the natural processes of nature? Then please explain to me the fundamental concepts of gravity, a multi-dimensional universe, speed of light restrictions, etc.
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    highfidelity
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    Quote Quote by: Jack View Post
    The method itself was developed in order to provide a way to investigate natural evidence in a way that human bias was least likely to be introduced.
    Wasn't Isaac Newton, the founding father of the scientific method of enquiry, initially motivated by his search for god? Although it may have developed into a method that is restricted to natural evidence only - is this a true evolution of the method or a limitation that has occurred due to the inherent restrictions of the method itself? I'm not claiming the scientific method is of no value, only that it may have inherent limitations for discovering truth and is therefore necessarily restricted to the physical reality.


    The whole goal of science is to understand the natural world based on what we discover from examining natural, physical evidence, drawing temporal conclusion and making predictions based on those examinations.
    Is that your opinion or the declared goal of all science practitioners?

    It is beyond the purview of science to investigate claims of the unnatural, that which lacks physical evidence, the supernatural.

    Science is neither equipped or designed to investigate claims of the supernatural.
    So are you agreeing with my premise that the scientific method is limited to discovering truths about the physical only?

    If this is true, how can science make any statement at all about the 'truth' of the supernatural reality? Doesn't that render all demands for empirical proof of it's existence meaningless?

    Do you think the scientific method is capable of being expanded to include the super-natural?

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    Sapere Aude Jack's Avatar
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    If this is true, how can science make any statement at all about the 'truth' of the supernatural reality?
    Where does it do this? I would say that science ignores the claims of supernaturalism as being beyond its purview. If it finds evidence of the supernatural I'm sure the world will hear about it immediately.


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    [Terry Pratchett]

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    Volcanic Erupter
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    Quote Quote by: Jack View Post
    Where does it do this? I would say that science ignores the claims of supernaturalism as being beyond its purview. If it finds evidence of the supernatural I'm sure the world will hear about it immediately.
    But the claims of supernaturalism are yours! Are you admitting that science is ignoring your claims??
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  10. #10
    highfidelity
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    Quote Quote by: Jack View Post
    I would say that science ignores the claims of supernaturalism as being beyond its purview.
    So you are agreeing with my premise that the scientific method is limited to discovering truths about the physical only.

    Doesn't that render all demands for empirical proof of it's existence meaningless? Shouldn't we be pursuing the alternative experiential methods suggested by religion if we really want to discover the truth of the existence of god?

    Wouldn't you agree that the question is important enough that we should be devoting some of our available energy on 'spiritual research'? Knowledge of the truth of god's existence has major practical implications in this life and the hypothesised life after death.

    Do you think the scientific method is capable of being expanded to include the super-natural? How could this be practically achieved?

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    Volcanic Erupter SoylentGreen's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=highfidelity;838245]

    Why should science restrict itself to the physical natural world? Maybe the reason for this lack of interest and desire to restrict itself to the physical is caused by the inherent limitations of the method itself.
    .
    I believe this to be another of the many false claims made by theists. Atheists do not restrict themselves to science for obtaining knowledge. There is also philosophy and science itself is split into two distinct areas, that of natural and social sciences. The methodology of science by it's very nature is restricted to what is observable and what is testable. That is an inherent limitation that makes it unsuitable for supernatural beliefs.

    I would agree with the part that says they should give some good reasoning why their ideals should be considered in creating the laws and structures of society, but wonder why you insist they must prove god exists in order for their views to be accepted as worthy of consideration..
    I feel I have already answered this:
    If they want to insist that their personal belief should be held by others then the onus is on them to give some good reasoning as to why and some good evidence as to the existence of their god.
    What any theists wants to believe is of no concern to me. However if the theists then insist that society abide by their beliefs then they need to give me a good reason as to why.

    Theists are part of this social structure aren't they? From my perspective you are imposing your scientific method and beliefs on society in the same way you accuse theists of doing. No one suggested their beliefs should be held by others
    I impose nothing on them. As far as i am concerned they can live their lives as they choose. It is only when they turn around and tell me i must also agree to live my life by their belief that they must offer some reason for doing so. I do not question their right to believe in a god only their ability to give a credible explanation of existence of their god.

    I believe my post is questioning this very assumption - "The only reasonable and logical method of showing something exists is through scientific method" Could you justify this statement in some way?
    I believe I already did. Science works quite well at explaining the world around us. The onus is on you to show where and how it fails to provide an explanation for a natural god. Or alternatively your option is to show us a credible alternative to science that gives credibility to a supernatural god.


    All religions share the view that the scientific method is not the instrument needed to 'prove' the existence of the super-natural realm. They all outline alternatives. Why do you consider them all unacceptable?
    How about you name some of those alternatives, i have listened to many and so far they fail to make the grade.



    Actually, I am questioning the assumption that the scientific method is capable of proving god exists. Burden of proof is a scientific requirement that has been imposed on theists - if we don't comply we are charged with being delusional and our views unworthy of being considered even in the society we are part of
    Then stop making claims that god is responsible for any physical natural events. Such as creation of the universe or creation of life or in general the various so called "miracles" of healing or unexplained events that occur.

    First prove a god exists then you can make claims that he does things.

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    Volcanic Erupter SoylentGreen's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: Zeebadee View Post
    Uh, because every scientific question started out the exact same way?? The fact that science currently has no method for verifying that idea in no way invalidates it. Are you really so certain that science should not be interested in the theory of a creator?? Should all scientific ideas be ignored until supporting evidence is found? Which should come first, the idea, or the evidence?
    .
    Perhaps you should be sitting down when I break the news to you.

    The idea has been around for centuries, we are still waiting for any evidence to back it up.



    But in fact it's the atheists that insist a creator would require "supernatural" abilities
    Not at all, I keep an open mind. But first you provide some evidence for a natural god or can we just assume that one day with a lot of hand waiving and threatening holding of breath theists will finally get their way.

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