Is There Visible Proof of God?


(Herculean Skeptic) closed #61

(Herculean Skeptic) #62

Topic has been closed for a day to allow for a cooling off period.

Topic has been reopened. Everyone, please be patient and respectful!

(Herculean Skeptic) opened #63

(Dale Cutler) #64

Rats. I had had the last word, prior to yours. :wink:

(Herculean Skeptic) #65

Hahaha… First time anyone has suggested that I leave their topic closed!! :slight_smile:

(John Harshman) #66

Might as well. There’s nothing worth talking about. It’s a one-sided conversation.


I visited with my parents this last weekend, and they made their existence very well known. I still love them. I really don’t understand your point on this one, especially when God has made his existence known in stories found in the Bible. Also, will people stop loving God in Heaven?

(Dan Eastwood) #68

OR Douglas Adams was right about proof denying faith. :wink:

I’ll add the link later …

To recap a previous discussion here, Adams seems to have realized the flaw in this argument. :wink:

(John Mercer) #69

I would say that your false assertion that both sides are interpreting the same evidence (while not engaging with the evidence yourself) certainly qualifies as entirely sectarian proselytizing.

(Guy Coe) #70

Well then, don’t ever enter a jury pool, or sit as a courtroom observer.

(Dale Cutler) #71

What is it about Kierkegaard’s little parable that’s causing difficulty?

(John Mercer) #72

Sorry, I’m not seeing the relevance of that response to my pointing out that you engage in sectarian proselytizing when you make false claims about both sides interpreting the same evidence about evolution, when one only has to open one’s eyes a tiny bit to see that evolution denialists ignore most of the evidence.

Can you explain?

(Guy Coe) #73

No need, since you can just apply the metaphor.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #74

Mr. Cutler linked to a satirical Babylon Bee article where we were reminded of Sam Harris’ book, Letter to a Christian Nation.

The following is my favorite excerpt from Sam Harris’ book. I find it interesting that Sam Harris would pile on about this thread’s OP (“Why is there no visible proof of God?”) and yet he gushes with great confidence his faith (my description of it) in something else that has no visible proof:

Mysticism is a rational enterprise. Religion is not. The mystic has recognized something about the nature of consciousness prior to thought , and this recognition is susceptible to rational discussion. The mystic has reasons for what he believes, and these reasons are empirical. The roiling mystery of the world can be analyzed with concepts (this is science), or it can be experienced free of concepts (this is mysticism) . (p. 221, emphasis added)

Harris even speaks approvingly of various Hindu and Buddhist religious beliefs (though he would probably call them philosophy instead) as “rational” even though there is no visible proof for them. He calls them “rational” and even “empirical”—but one is hard pressed to see how they can be truly “empirical” in a rational scientific sense. (I will concede that some of the phenomena he describes in Eastern meditation, for example, can be studied empirically. Yet, much like many atheist philosophers who harshly criticized Harris’ Letters to a Christian Nation, I found his arguments for “rational mysticism” unconvincing and even silly.)

Harris would probably say that we cannot expect to see “visible proof” for things like mysticism. (Indeed, he basically says as much.) Philosophers, both theists and atheists, have spoken similarly—by definition— of a transcendent God. (That is, would a truly transcendent deity be evident by visible proof. Of course, it depends on what one means by a “visible proof.”)

(John Harshman) #75

It also depends on what one means by “transcendent”. Does this transcendent being have any interactions with the world? Is any interaction restricted to undetectable influences?

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #76

The standard definition in philosophy and religious studies does not specify whether or not such interactions are involved.

No. Nothing in the standard definition addresses whether or not said influences are detectable. Of course, Christian theology includes the recognition of miracles, many of which the texts attribute those considered not explainable by natural processes phenomena (the usual definition of a “miracle”) to YHWH/God.

(John Harshman) #77

If there are influences and they are detectable, it seems to me that would qualify as “visible proof”.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #78

As you mentioned previously, definitions are vital to this topic. And many people consider visible proof to be something quite different from (and more impressive than) other types of evidence of influence and whether or not something is detectable at all.

It is also worth considering that many would point out that science defines and detects evidence differently from philosophy. (Thus, the classic Cogito, ergo sum, “I think therefore I am”, probably convinces a lot more philosophers than scientists! Is my thinking truly sufficient evidence that I exist? Again, definitions are vital.) As for proofs and proving, mathematics recognizes proofs but other fields of science don’t deal in proofs. They deal in analysis and quantification of evidence in order to produce testable hypotheses and models and to culminate in scientific theories which are subjected to falsification testing.

By definition, a transcendent deity would not be subject to the Scientific Method and falsification testing. Whether or not the influences of a transcendent deity are detectable and measurable can be a tricky question to settle because even though the phenomena in question may be measurable, attributing them to a specific agent can be far more difficult and controversial. How does one scientifically test for the influence of a transcendent deity? And how does a philosopher investigate the influence of a transcendent deity? Those are two different questions. (Entire books have been written on that topic and because I’m not a professional philosopher, I’m not at all skilled in explaining the current discussions within the academy on that topic—or even the historic ones. @Eddie probably has much more background on such things.)

(Paul A Nelson) #79

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #80

POSTSCRIPT: Many have made observations about the fact that high technology unfamiliar to a given civilization versus a supernatural intervention cannot be easily distinguished. Thus, when people with sophisticated (or even not-so-sophisticated) technology visit isolated tribes, those aboriginal peoples often assume that they are witnessing miracles and they decide that the visitors must surely be gods. How can miracles be distinguished from other kinds of unexplained phenomena? And how can those phenomena be correctly attributed to a specific kind of intelligent agent—whether that be a human agent or an alien being from another planet or even some transcendent deity? What visible proof would distinguish an intervention by a transcendent deity from an intervention by an advanced civilization with spectacularly impressive technology?

These are some of the reasons why I don’t necessarily expect the intervention of a transcendent deity to be subject to compelling scientific investigation. However, once again, I’m not a professional philosopher and have no specialization in this academy field. (Of course, that doesn’t prevent me from making determinations on the basis of my own experiences, knowledge, and theological frameworks—just as those with no theological framework will make personal determinations.)