Credible, Not Verifiable
Sixth in a series on the search for meaning in a world that doesn't want to bother with it.
by Everett Wilson
February 28, 2005
There are religions that arise from the cosmos and remain within it. Black magic and white magic, fertility cults, astronomy (its in the stars), and pantheism (everything is god) are such religions. Theoretically, science may address these because they are all operating on the axiom that the cosmos, whether hidden or apparent, embraces all that is and is therefore subject to scientific method?even if the specific method has not yet been discovered or devised.
Everything is coherent and potentially explainable until one posits the possible existence of a creator from outside the cosmos. Then everything is up for grabs and beyond the reach of scientific method.
Science as we know it in the West grew from the pioneering work of Islamic and Christian theists, who decided to learn what they could about the cosmos on its own terms, to act as if there were no creator. No doubt there was persecution here and there, but scientific method was useful for the growth of knowledge and was retained by theists and atheists alike. The treatment of Galileo was an exception, not a rule. In most church-sponsored universities a course in physics or biology doesn?t include a section on theology.
But that works both ways. Scientific method cannot verify atheism any more than it can verify theism. The method is all wrong for an attempt at such verification. It?s something like taking a buggy whip along when you board a space ship. In that analogy, the scientific method is the buggy whip. Just as there is no horse pulling the spacecraft, so there is no data concerning the existence of an outside creator within the limited scope of the scientific method.
So scientists who choose atheism as their personal faith have no more objective authority to back up their claim than have atheistic historians or novelists. They have simply made a personal conclusion on the basis of a professional assumption. The reasoning is circular: ?Since we have found out some things while pretending there is no God, there is no God.? It differs enormously from a scientific theory proposed to determine whether something that appears to be so is actually so. The no-god assumption was in the method not to prove there was no god, but to keep from prejudicing the conclusions reached about the proposed theory.
So far I have either made sense to you in this series, or I have been laughed off the stage. The remaining essays are for those who see something in what I have said and want to know where I am going. One promise I will make: I am not going to bait and switch. After spending several thousand words trying to show that proof of the existence of God is impossible, I am not going to turn around and offer proof.
I do hope to show that the existence of God is credible, though not verifiable in data that the world provides. The essays to follow will be based loosely on the following concepts:
All Installments of this Series:8. Dialogue with a Postmodern Nephew, 5/11/2005
1. The Possible Possibility, 10/2/2004
2. The Legitimately Weird, 10/16/2004
3. Nature and Supernature, 11/29/2004
4. Designer Jeans, Designer God, 1/6/2005
5. What Mathematical Certainty?, 2/2/2005
6. Credible, Not Verifiable, 2/28/2005
7. The God of Ultimate Meaning, 2/28/2005
9. Why the Bible?, 5/21/2005
10. Why Jesus?, 6/4/2005
About the Author:
Everett Wilson is pastor of Prairie Lake Evangelical Covenant Church, Chetek, WI
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