Sunday, January 22, 2017

Why There is no Empirical Proof That God Exists

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Atheists are intent upon echoing the constant refrain, "no empirical proof for God."   If God is empirical then the lack of empirical proof counts against belief. Yet, there's more to this than just a demand for evidence of some fact. They have vested an entire world view imn the notion that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. So they are willing to give up logically obvious positions in order to get this child's advantage of being able to insist that our little limited view point on this dust mote in a vast sea we have yet to plumb,  is somehow indicative of real empirical proof of the nature of the universe.

One example of the sacrifice of logic to push empiricism is seen in my recent confrontation with an atheist (call him "Dusty") on Victor Reppart's Dangerous Idea blog. [1] Defending Hartshorne's modal argument I advanced the notion that if God can be conceived analytically without contradiction then God is not impossible. He of course assumes that science is the only form of knowledge so for him empirical evidence is more real than deduction. In fact he thinks inductive reasoning is just pretending, He treats my argument a though I said if there's no contradiction then God is empirical. If there is no logical contradiction then God is possible not proven. The thing that takes God beyond mere possibility is being non-contingent not being uncontradictory.

From time to time atheists have tried to disprove God with parsimony. Or they might at least argue that parsimony renders belief less likely. [2] If God is not given in empirical data then God is not subject to the demands of parsimony its unfair to expect it. I don't imagine that parsimony would prove anything anyway it'snot a proof. There are different kinds of parsimony and belief in God meets some of them. For example, God is a more elegant and economical as a solution than naturalism. [3] Just as the more insightful atheists, such as Parsons, don't argue to disprove God but in terms of likelihood, then so to do i argue not to prove god but to warrant belief. Belief may be warranted without proving the existence of God.

To many atheists God is contrary to the rules of science because he's the product of something called "supernatural."[4] They don't have the slightest idea where the concept comes from or what it really says, but they are sure it's stupid and don't' want anything do to with it. So God can't be parsimonious because he's supernatural. These atheists are merely reacting to the modern post enlightenment concept of SN as that which stands in opposition to scientific data or modern secular thinking.It really ha nothing to do with the Christian concept of the Supernatural.[5] The so Called Rules of science are not a guide to ontology.That God is not given in empirical data is a function of God not given sense data, that is not a disproof it merely means that God represents an aspect of beyond that beyond our ability to spy on.

God could only be the subject of parsimony if he is the object of empirical investigation. I can see why atheists want this to be true, because they could pretend that they've ruled out God, with their penchant for ignoring God arguments, and their glass half empty outlook which always finds the negative, the dark, the bad, refuses proof, refuses the benefit of a doubt only the cutting edge of doubt. But God is not the object of empirical investigation, nor can he be by definition. thus he cannot be judged by parsimony. The whole idea contradicts phenomenology in the first place. So typical of atheists to cherry pick reality so they accept the schools of philosophy that help them and consign as hog wash any kind of thinking that they can't understand (which is most of it).

God cannot be empirical. There are three reasons. These reasons are deductive. The reasons themselves do not require empirical proof because they are deductive. In fact they could not be empirical and claim to  prove that God is beyond the empirical because they would have to have empirical evidence of God to say that, which would be a contradiction.

The three reasons are absolute:


God is not given in sense data.

Empirical means experienced first hand. In modern terms we speak of empirical proof in  terms of scientific observation but it's not really empirical in the traditional sense. It's really inductive reasoning, it's extrapolation from a representative sample to a generalized probability. If God was a big man in the sky with a localized existence I would say the lack of empirical proof is a good reason not believe. But God is more basic than that. God is more analogous to the laws of physics in that we know his effects but he has no localized existence that can be observed directly.



God is not a thing  in creation, 

Not a thing alongside other things  that is, but is the basis of reality: God is being itself. If we could say the universe contains trees and oranges, and mutt dogs and swizzel sticks and mud pies and jelly and fish and comic books and flt tires and roofs and taxes and stupid people, and God, then they would have a point. What's wrong with this list? God is not just another thing. God created all that stuff and everything else. Nothing would exist without God. So God is not along side jelly and swizzle sticks in creation. As St. John of Damascus said "God exists on the order of Being itself." God is not a product of things in creation, god is the basis of all reality. Thus, God may not be treated as things in creation. God is not contingent because he' snot produced by a prior thing. He's not part of creation, the basis of it, so obviously he can't be given in sense data he can't be understood in a empirical way.

The graphic that I have chosen above really says it all. Reality itself is framed by God, by God's being and creative energies but we ca't see that because it's the frame it'most a tangible thing in tyhw world or not given  in sense data.

God is eternal.

Because God always was, never came to be, is not dependent upon anything else for his existence, we can say that God, if there is a God, then God had to be, it's not a matter of maybe God might not have existed. God must be either necessary or impossible. This is what Harsthorne drives home in this modal argument.

Because the concept of God is that of eternal necessary being, God cannot be contingent and since empirical things can only be contingent, God cannot be the object of empirical study. These arguments prove conclusively and beyond question that God cannot be empirical. Since God cannot be empirical it makes prefect since that there is no obvious evidence for God in of the kind some atheists seek, such as  stars lining up to spell out his name or any of that nonsense. It might just be that God is parsimonious in some sense, but not in the sense of being more scientific. which is I think the way most atheists use the term "Parsimony" (because they don't know any better).

Of course there is empirical evidence that can warrant belief in God. For that I recommend my book


 photo frontcover-v3a_zps9ebf811c.jpg 

Order from Amazon 
Ground breaking research that boosts religious arguemnts for God to a much stronger level. It makes experience arguments some of the most formidable.Empirical scientific studies demonstrate belief in God is rational, good for you, not the result of emotional instability. Ready answer for anyone who claims that belief in God is psychologically bad for you. Order from Amazon 







Sources

[1] Stardusty  psyche, "Exchange with David Brightly," "comments," Dangerous Idea blog
https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=10584495&postID=5659799769651012438
(accessed 1/18/17)

there are 221 comments and still running,

[2] Stenger 2007, pp. 17–18, citing Parsons, Keith M. (1989). God and the Burden of Proof: Plantinga, Swinburne, and the Analytical Defense of Theism. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-0-87975-551-5.

Original Stemger is Victor J. Stenger,  (2007). God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-652-5.

[3] Joseph Hinman, "Eligance of The God Hypothesis," Doxa: Christian Thought in thei21st Century, On line Resoirce no date imndicted. URL:
http://www.doxa.ws/cosmological/Elgegance.html (accessed 1/18/17)

it is not a contradiction on my part to say that my Parsimony argument might offer rational warrant to believe, but that God is not a subject of parsimony. I said there is a distinction in types. What atheists mean by it and what I mean by the term are two different things. My argument turns upon being an elegant idea, so God need not be empirical to be judged elegant; all one need know is a concept


[4] Benson Saler, “Supernatural as a Western Category,” Ethos, Vol. 5, issue 1, first published online 28 Oct., 2009, 31-53 35. PDF URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/eth.1977.5.1.02a00040/pdf (accessed 1/25/2016).

see also Stenger, Failed hyp.... op cot

[5] Benson Saler, “Supernatural as a Western Category,” Ethos, Vol. 5, issue 1, first published online 28 Oct., 2009, 31-53 35. PDF URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/eth.1977.5.1.02a00040/pdf (accessed 1/25/2016).




18 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Empirical means experienced first hand..."

That is not how sceptics use the term. Very little in science, for example, is seen first hand. It is, however, well supported by evidence. Sceptics reject claims that are not supported by evidence, and whether that is called empirical is mere labelling.

"... They have vested an entire world view imn the notion that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. ..."

And look at the technology such a worldview has provided. Compare to the pre-enlightenment worldview, and how far that got in several thousand years.

How do you feel about empirical evidence in law courts? Would you be happy for a lawyer on the opposing side introducing claims that were not supported by empirical evidence?

"For example, God is a more elegant and economical as a solution than naturalism."

If he is the ground of being - and nothing else - then maybe. As soon as we posit properties like sentient, not so much.
No, he really is not.

"I can see why atheists want this to be true, because they could pretend that they've ruled out God, with their penchant for ignoring God arguments, and their glass half empty outlook which always finds the negative, the dark, the bad, refuses proof, refuses the benefit of a doubt only the cutting edge of doubt."

I think this is about the sceptics position that if you do not know, then the conclusion is "I do not know", and not "Well it must be God". It is a subtle thing.

"He's not part of creation, the basis of it, so obviously he can't be given in sense data he can't be understood in a empirical way."

Saying "obviously" does not prove it is so. Please explain why the basis of creation cannot be understood in a empirical way.

"... empirical things can only be contingent, ..."

Again, why?

"Of course there is empirical evidence that can warrant belief in God."

Do you realise this is a direct contradiction of the previous claims?

Pixie

im-skeptical said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

sacrifice of logic to push empiricism

It always amazes me the way theists can twist the truth to justify their own way of thinking. I certainly wouldn't claim that all empiricists are logical thinkers, but it seems evident that as a rule, they are more consistently logical than theists. How can I make such a brazen claim, you ask? It's certainly not the mere fact that empiricists base their beliefs on evidence, although empirical evidence does provide a sound epistemological basis for belief. But it also has to do with the way they make sense of the evidence. And that has everything to do with logic, and how it is applied to our world.

You are quite impressed with Hartshorne's modal argument. You have demanded to be shown the fallacy. OK. The fallacy is in the very first premise. The statement g -> N(g) is simply a matter of definition or faith, which you, as a theist, must believe if you want the argument to be sound. You have "vested an entire world view imn the notion" that your theistic beliefs are valid knowledge. But an empiricist is not impressed with your theistic definitions. There is simply no logical reason for a rational person to accept that, and no empirical basis to think it's true.

And that brings me to the final point that Pixie mentioned. Like so many other theists, you rail against empiricism and "scientism". And it seems to me that the reason for this hatred of evidence-based beliefs is that theism is not based on empirical evidence. Theists insist that there is more in our world that we can know (namely "God"), if only we don't insist on strictly empirical evidence to support that belief. This is an admission that God cannot be known empirically. This is the basis for claims about "non-overlapping magisteria".

But at the same time, there are certain theists who jump at the chance to enlist science, if they think it can be used to justify their belief. And so we have people at Templeton Foundation trying to insert theism into science. And we have people at Discovery Institute making all kinds of pseudo-scientific claims. And we have your claims that empirical evidence does indeed support God-belief. Of course, we all understand, deep inside, that none of that so-called evidence is real. And that's why you won't abandon your hatred of scientism.

Joe Hinman said...

It always amazes me the way theists can twist the truth to justify their own way of thinking. I certainly wouldn't claim that all empiricists are logical thinkers, but it seems evident that as a rule, they are more consistently logical than theists. How can I make such a brazen claim, you ask? It's certainly not the mere fact that empiricists base their beliefs on evidence, although empirical evidence does provide a sound epistemological basis for belief. But it also has to do with the way they make sense of the evidence. And that has everything to do with logic, and how it is applied to our world.

You don't seem to have understood the point of the post. I't not about who is more logical and it's not even about weather or not empiricism is rational. It's about why the claim of no empirical evidence for God is not a good standard to judge the validity of belief in God. if you got it no evidence of it.

Joe Hinman said...

You are quite impressed with Hartshorne's modal argument. You have demanded to be shown the fallacy. OK. The fallacy is in the very first premise. The statement g -> N(g) is simply a matter of definition or faith, which you, as a theist, must believe if you want the argument to be sound. You have "vested an entire world view imn the notion" that your theistic beliefs are valid knowledge. But an empiricist is not impressed with your theistic definitions. There is simply no logical reason for a rational person to accept that, and no empirical basis to think it's true.


If you paid attenuation in class when they talked about Kant you should have picked upon the fact that there is no particular reason why empirical knowledge should be a standard any more than any thing else. The billiard balls can only tell us so much. Your assertions about the argument are silly.

the first premise, if God exists his existence must be necessity, is axiomatic according to what we believe in. But it can be demonstrated as logical.It;s nothing more than saying that God can't be contingent. That is only logical given God's eternal nature because something eternal can't be caused if it is deponent something the thing it depends upon must also be eternal.there Occum's razor tells us no point in multiplying entities beyond necessity.


Joe Hinman said...

And that brings me to the final point that Pixie mentioned. Like so many other theists, you rail against empiricism and "scientism". And it seems to me that the reason for this hatred of evidence-based beliefs is that theism is not based on empirical evidence.

(1) your reason for assuming that I'm against empiricism is childish. Essentially you think resisting the impulse to limit belief to empiricism, equals hating empiricism that's like saying my Dad can beat up your Dad.

(2) Kant dispersed with empiricism for valid philosophical reasons that do not involve emotional states like hating it.

(3) scientism is not a philosophy it's an ideology. It's not on par with empiricism.

(4) I never said anything about rejecting evidence based beliefs. accepting evidential standards when they apply is not a valid reason for limiting knowledge to empirical evidence alone.The point of the post was that we can't have evidence about
God so we have to take other kinds of evidence. Empirical is not the only valid kind of evidence.


Theists insist that there is more in our world that we can know (namely "God"), if only we don't insist on strictly empirical evidence to support that belief. This is an admission that God cannot be known empirically. This is the basis for claims about "non-overlapping magisteria".

God cannot be proven empirically but belief can be warranted emphatically. There is no rule of logic that says one must be an empiricist,that is an ideological position.


But at the same time, there are certain theists who jump at the chance to enlist science, if they think it can be used to justify their belief. And so we have people at Templeton Foundation trying to insert theism into science.

there is good empirical evidence that warrants belief,it doesn't prove it.



Joe Hinman said...

And we have people at Discovery Institute making all kinds of pseudo-scientific claims. And we have your claims that empirical evidence does indeed support God-belief. Of course, we all understand, deep inside, that none of that so-called evidence is real. And that's why you won't abandon your hatred of scientism.

I don't know anything about any discovery institute, The evidence for the experience arguments and how they are backed by the studies on RE is way over your head, you are demonstrated you are not capable of understanding it,so I wont talk to you about that, in fact I've told you before you are banned from this board,

Joe Hinman said...

Anonymous said...
"Empirical means experienced first hand..."

That is not how sceptics use the term. Very little in science, for example, is seen first hand. It is, however, well supported by evidence. Sceptics reject claims that are not supported by evidence, and whether that is called empirical is mere labelling.

another example of the ignorance of science types they stole the word and allied it to inductive reasoning. what they mean by empirical really should be called inductive logic,

"... They have vested an entire world view imn the notion that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. ..."

And look at the technology such a worldview has provided. Compare to the pre-enlightenment worldview, and how far that got in several thousand years.

what you just said is another say of saying that if it works its true is a valid standard,I show religion works because RE makes your life better atheists say O that's just the advantage to belief that's not valid, But you said if it works it's true,


How do you feel about empirical evidence in law courts? Would you be happy for a lawyer on the opposing side introducing claims that were not supported by empirical evidence?

where in the thing did I say empirical evidence is bad: you think this because you feel threat from alternate belief system that challenged your ideology,


im-skeptical said...

You don't seem to have understood the point of the post. I't not about who is more logical ...
- I was responding to a specific statement you made: "... the sacrifice of logic to push empiricism ..." But that was right there in my comment. So you don't seem to be paying attention.


If you paid attenuation in class when they talked about Kant you should have picked upon the fact that there is no particular reason why empirical knowledge should be a standard any more than any thing else.
- Why should I think that any source of knowledge matches empirical knowledge? Just because someone said so? Sorry, but I don't buy it. I'm an empiricist.


the first premise, if God exists his existence must be necessity, is axiomatic according to what we believe in.
- According to what YOU believe in. That's theistic presumption 101 - it's not an axiom of logic. I don't buy it.

your reason for assuming that I'm against empiricism is childish.
- No. It's based on your harping about it.

Kant dispersed with empiricism ...
- I don't think so. If you paid attenuation in class when they talked about Kant, you would know that he synthesized empiricism and rationalism in something he called transcendental idealism. Not that I buy it anyway.

scientism is not a philosophy it's an ideology. It's not on par with empiricism.
- I don't know how you define scientism. I am an empiricist, and that is an epistemology, not an ideology.

The point of the post was that we can't have evidence about God so we have to take other kinds of evidence
- If you think that subjective feelings are valid evidence, you're not going to convince me. What other kind of evidence do you have?

God cannot be proven empirically but belief can be warranted emphatically.
- By "emphatically" I assume you mean "empirically". And if that's the case, I think you are confused about empirical evidence. We don't have direct knowledge of anything. We infer things from the evidence we see. If there's no empirical evidence of God, then there's no empirical reason (or warrant) to believe. That's what empiricism is about. If there is empirical warrant for belief, as you say, that means there is evidence.

there is good empirical evidence that warrants belief,it doesn't prove it.
- Nobody (except you) is talking about "proving" things. But evidence is evidence. Either we have it, or we don't. To sat that there is no empirical evidence for God, and at the same time, there is empirical warrant for belief, is to contradict yourself. Evidence IS warrant for belief.

Joe Hinman said...

you focused on one aspect because you are missing the point overall.

Kant demonstrated the inherent limitations in both rationalism and empiricism, that's why I go for the standard of global knowledge, That way you are painting yourself into a corner.



God cannot be proven empirically but belief can be warranted emphatically.
- By "emphatically" I assume you mean "empirically". And if that's the case, I think you are confused about empirical evidence. We don't have direct knowledge of anything. We infer things from the evidence we see. If there's no empirical evidence of God, then there's no empirical reason (or warrant) to believe. That's what empiricism is about. If there is empirical warrant for belief, as you say, that means there is evidence.

I didn't say there is no empirical evidence of God I said no empirical proof, I may have no evidence din some sentence where I misspoke but my major statements in the post said no proof, like the title.I clearly said there is empirical evidence that warrants belief,

that we have only indirect knowledge does not change or disprove my argument, That is in agreement with my view,ls Still not a reason to think empirical is the only valid evidence,


there is good empirical evidence that warrants belief,it doesn't prove it.
- Nobody (except you) is talking about "proving" things. But evidence is evidence. Either we have it, or we don't. To sat that there is no empirical evidence for God, and at the same time, there is empirical warrant for belief, is to contradict yourself. Evidence IS warrant for belief.

obviously wrong since the guy I was aruging iwth in thyepost said that,

Joe Hinman said...

- By "emphatically" I assume you mean "empirically".


auto correct screwed me again

Joe Hinman said...

your reason for assuming that I'm against empiricism is childish.
- No. It's based on your harping about it.

try actually reading the article next time

Mike Gerow said...

.....hmm... but iirc, Tillich's "ground" is also at times his "ungrund" or his Abyss, no?

There seems to be a book on this by an Icelandic, female theologian I'd like to read sometime, but thinking about that, I can't see otherwise why there could be anything "existential" about his theology....? Is it a question like, do all Dios's rigorous apophatic un-sayings in Mystical Theolgy include even "Super-Essential Godhead" in the end, or not? (i.e. Is it a question of the political spin you want?)

Is there ultimately an Abyss in the middle of the donut, or not? ;-)



Mike Gerow said...

empirical things can only be contingent, ..."

Again, why?


Can u give an example of "observable necessity" - ie something empirically testable that could only be one way in EVERY possible world?

Seems impossible to me, since if something being other than it is isnt even thinkable, how could tests ever be performed to confirm it?... but nevertheless maybe u can throw something at me that's "impossibly possible" or something?

Joe Hinman said...

Mike Gerow said...
.....hmm... but iirc, Tillich's "ground" is also at times his "ungrund" or his Abyss, no?

There seems to be a book on this by an Icelandic, female theologian I'd like to read sometime, but thinking about that, I can't see otherwise why there could be anything "existential" about his theology....? Is it a question like, do all Dios's rigorous apophatic un-sayings in Mystical Theolgy include even "Super-Essential Godhead" in the end, or not? (i.e. Is it a question of the political spin you want?)

i don't remember that he uses ground in a coupel ofsemses isliding pyschological groiund,

Joe Hinman said...

empirical things can only be contingent, ..."

Again, why?

thig caused are continent and all naturalistic things are caused, if it's caused it could have turned out otherwise,

Mike Gerow said...

Is the concept of contingent "could have turned out otherwise" or "could be thought to be otherwise"?

Even if all things are 100% determined in reality, we can THINK of a possible world where they wouldn't need to be.....

Joe Hinman said...

I don't accept determinism.

contingent is could be untrue without contradiction, or you could say it as might not have been could have been otherwise.