Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What can be evidence for theism?

Sometimes it is claimed that we cannot have any evidence for God. We cannot, they say, put God in a test tube, or examine him under a microscope!

Our discussion within theism will focus on the features of God that are dynamic and therefore have an effect on the world. So I reply to the claims above: are you sure that God is not in the test tube, and that is he is not in the space under the microscope? Are you claiming that the omnipresent God is everywhere in the universe, but not there?

More seriously concerning theology: for God to make a world that functions within theism, then not to leave any evidence about where to find him at all would be pointless, since God is the source of all intellectual discernment and love. If he had everything that we need, and wanted to give it to us, but gave us no way to find him, would be self-defeating! Moreover, if you want to talk about purpose: our purpose is the receive that love and discernment from God. It is certainly not a purpose independent of God.

If God is to make any practical difference, it must be possible for the divine to have effects in the natural word, and those effects must be able to be examined by scientists. If an angel appeared to heal the sick, then science should be able to investigate it rigorously. The above skeptics go on to argue that since such angels never appear, the theistic predictions fail and therefore theism should be rejected. I respond by arguing that theism was most often not correctly understood, and so the predictions were not correctly made. I will present new predictions for confirmation or falsification.

An important point is that 'evidence' only means something if we know how to interpret it, and that requires some prior theory to get us started. So I think there is lots of evidence for theism, but, because of our previous theories, we do not recognize that evidence. This kind of ambiguity means that it is not 'direct evidence' and certainly not 'proof', but that is never obtained in science anyway.

For example, I show in my book that theism, if that theory is understood as I recommend, leads to predictions that we have minds. And minds with desires and thoughts. Minds with all sorts of interesting internal structures and functions.

I suppose you never considered that the mere fact of having a mind was evidence for anything. That is because your theory never predicted it! So I certainly do not believe that God and evidence for God is necessarily hidden. We just have to look in the right way. "He who has eyes, ...".

Theism mostly operates by giving capacities and dispositions to physical, mental and spiritual things that would never be expected on the basis of the plain constituents of those things and their properties. These are the predictions that I try to show in detail.

When it comes to testing more detailed predictions, therefore, we have to test the behavior of things, to see if their response can be entirely explained in terms of the constituent parts. This is a kind of 'emergence' theory, but on a proper ontological basis with new capacities and powers. It is not just trying to see the collection of parts under a new description of the whole.
Trying to see the direct actions of God in the world is extraordinarily difficult. Not impossible, but not easy. That is because very many of his actions are delegated to intermediate spiritual, mental and physical levels as I try to explain. Of course, the very capacities of those levels depends on God, but the evidence for those capacities is then one more step removed from God. The direct evidence is primarily the existence of those levels in the first place.

I agree that this requires us to somewhat rework the 'scientific framework', but that is not impossible. It has happened before. Whether the existing practitioners will allow us to change slightly the rules of the game is what we will find out. What I'm doing is to at least make a definite theory which could be taken scientifically.

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