Is Belief In God Unscientific?
By Blake Giunta
Atheists often complain that the God hypothesis is unscientific, and that this is a problem for the God hypothesis. The objection captures a widely publicized sentiment among non-believers that faith and science are in some sense incompatible:
The belief that God exists is taken to be subjective and personal, while beliefs about how the world actually is (or objectively is) must in principle be testable by scientific methodology.
This is a very clumsy dichotomy, however.
Here is a four-step response to the claim that belief in God is “unscientific”.
Step 1: Ask the atheist what he means by unscientific.
You will likely hear something along the lines of “one cannot test God’s existence by the scientific method” or “the idea that God exists is unfalsifiable”. If you hear either of these, then proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Ask the atheist if he is affirming scientism.
It is important to confirm now what the atheist is arguing before you respond. Pin it down, so he cannot change later. For example, say…
“Why does it matter that one be able to test God’s existence by the scientific method (and/or that his existence be scientifically falsifiable)? Are you perhaps thinking that the scientific method is the only possible source of genuine factual knowledge? Or is the idea maybe that all true propositions are scientifically falsifiable?”
It might be that simply asking the question will give your interlocutor pause…
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