Contrary to the musings of Steven Hawking and others, it is impossible for the physical sciences to prove God does not exist.
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
16 July 2017
My dear friends: each day I post a “Theology Moment” or “Philosophy Moment” on the Joy In Truth Facebook page. These are short commentaries and/or educational tracts on various subjects that pertain to these divine sciences. It’s an excellent way to learn more about reason and faith, philosophy and theology. Please visit Joy In Truth on Facebook, and “like” and “follow” the page. I think you’ll find it helpful and interesting.
Today, this question was posed as a “Philosophy Moment”:
Can science prove God does not exist?
No. Contrary to the popular musings of Steven Hawking and others, it is not possible for the physical sciences to prove God does not exist. No one in the history of the world has ever done so, nor will anyone ever do so.
How can we be certain that this is the case?
To understand this, one need consider the methods of inquiry the physical sciences utilize in their investigation of the physical universe. The methods of these sciences, such as natural science, are LIMITED to the investigation and analyzation of PHYSICAL PHENOMENA observable, either directly or indirectly, by the human senses. This observation might be conducted indirectly through suitable testing and/or use of instrumentation, experimentation and investigation, but it is nevertheless always restricted to analyzation of physical things. Natural science inquires into physical reality via the gathering of empirical evidence. In philosophy, we refer to this type of knowledge gained through empirical observation as a-posteriori knowledge.
God, however, is a spiritual, non-physical reality who totally transcends the physical universe and therefore is NOT a physical thing capable of being observed or analyzed by experimentation conducted by the physical sciences. Physical science cannot say anything definitive with regard to the existence of God, because God lies entirely outside its boundaries of testing and observation. God is completely beyond the observational sphere of the physical sciences.
But for the sake of argument, imagine this (an illustration adapted from Fr. Robert Spitzer): suppose God was a physical creature (and he is not). Could natural science prove his non-existence? To do so, science would have to investigate every molecule in the entire physical universe and prove each one was not God; every crack and crevice of the cosmos would have to be carefully examined to show that God was not located there. That’s a big project, to say the least. Additionally, other universes, if they exist, would also have to be examined. Perhaps, too, there are other dimensions in the space-time continuum that would need to be meticulously explored. This is a problem because we cannot get outside of our own physical universe. And what is to stop our theoretical God from zipping away to another location and hiding when scientists come to look for him? You see, it is exceedingly, exceedingly, exceedingly difficult for science to prove any physical thing does not exist.
God is a totally unique non-physical reality.
God is a spiritual reality. Therefore it is impossible for the physical sciences to disprove the existence of God because God is entirely beyond their observational capabilities.
Whenever a physical scientist postulates that God does not exist, or that he is unnecessary to explain the origin and beginning of physical matter, space and time, in fact all physical reality, well, he’s making statements which he has no business making. He’s speaking of what he knows not.
Can physical science prove God does not exist? Nope. Never has and never will.
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Photo Credit: Pubic doman. NASA_Science_Update_-_The_Voyager_Spacecraft_-_Humanity’s_Farthest_Journey_-_detail.jpg
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel. For more, visit YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.
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