The "Laws of Science" and God
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A little over a month ago, I got into an email exchange with a person who claimed he could prove the existence of God. As believers go, he was at the reasonable end of the spectrum and was able to combine his faith with an acceptance of the findings of science. However, his "proof " was nothing more than the cosmological argument. When I pointed out to him what I considered to be the flaws in his proof, he kept stating over and over that I was denying the "laws of science;" specifically the law of conservation of energy and the law of cause and effect.
Then, a couple of weeks later, an atheist took me on. He challenged my agnosticism on the grounds that accepting the possibility, however remote, of the existence of a deity meant that I accepted the possibility of the supernatural, and through that, I accepted that the "natural laws" could be arbitrarily broken. Therefore, I was denying natural law and science.
Regardless of the flaws in logic that both demonstrated, I found it exceedingly strange that both the atheist and the theist took the absolute position that the laws of science supported each of their positions completely without possibility of rebuttal. After all, they could not both be right, could they?
But, they both could be wrong. And they were.
What neither of these individuals understood was that science (at the present state of knowledge, anyway) can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a deity. What science can do is challenge some specific claims about a deity. For example, the findings of science are totally at odds with Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Consequently, if you accept science, you will almost certainly reject a literal reading of Genesis (and any other ancient creation myth, for that matter.)
But demonstrating that a god did not commit a specific act attributed to it is quite different from demonstrating the non-existence of the deity.
Science neither proves nor disproves God. And I don't expect that to change in the forseeable future.
- "the atheist and the theist" refer to two specific individuals. I am not suggesting that the views of these two apply to all atheists and all believers.