Is God Testable?

It is a common claim among theists that god is purely faith based, untestable, and outside of the bounds of science. Maybe god even created the laws of the world as we know it. That is the question asked in the blog post “Can God be Scientifically Proven?” and that is exactly the question I hope to answer.

Theists have maintained that their god is untestable but they also make claims that this god did things which are very testable. For example, it is said that god answers prayer. It is trivial to collect quantifiable data on prayer, and people did. That New York Times article details the data which was scientifically collected which shows that prayer does not seem to have any correlation with healing.

Also relevant to the success rate of prayer is this (funny but serious) video by GIIVideo on YouTube:

As you can see, prayer is nothing but an optical illusion and is not proof for a god. Atheists, 1; Theists, 0. Although it does not disprove god, it does show what is really going on behind one aspect which theists use as proof for god.

As you can see, many theistic claims are quantifiable in this way. Also, many arguments for the existence of god have been logically disassembled on the Iron Chariots Wiki.  In fact, the only claims I have not run across a way to address logically or scientifically are arguments from personal experience (which are logical fallacies so they don’t really need to be addressed) and this is exactly the proof Juan cites in the comments on the post I mentioned earlier.

In conclusion

Can god be tested? No. Can claims about god be tested? Certainly. They can and have been tested logically, and scientifically and no reason to believe in a god has ever been found. From the origins of the universe to prayer, there is no reason to suspect anything but natural processes (i.e. no supernatural beings).

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3 thoughts on “Is God Testable?

  1. Hey AJ,
    First, great post and thanks for the plug. I really liked the video. Growing up in the church, I’ve heard that God answers in those three ways so many times and I’ve been frustrated by that many times too. However, I would like to present another aspect of prayer that many tend to forget or have never taken the time to learn. (In light of this topic, I feel I should write a proper post for this in the near future, but for now I’ll try to be brief.) To fully understand prayer, as Christians do, we must look at what the Bible says about the relationship between man and God and how prayer is used.

    1) It’s Psychology not Mathematics – The book of Genesis records that God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”(1:26 ESV) This is not saying we are mini-gods, but that we reflect or possess the same characteristics of His being. So, in many ways we can look at man to see what God may “look” like. We are social beings that have the capacity to communicate on many levels, verbal and non-verbal. We have emotions, desires and dreams. As well as a longing for adventure and to be captivated by wondrous things. Because each person is unique, styles of communication can vary drastically from one person to the next.

    2) Prayer is not Communication – John Piper is an amazing theologian and teacher. He briefly explains that prayer is our way of conversing with God, but it is not how He converses back, in this video: http://goo.gl/0udit.

    3) God Speaks More Than 3 Words – Jesus is the Son of God and he spoke many words about life, Heaven and Hell. (Hebrews 1:1-2). The Bible is the word of God and it is a gift for us. Though the Bible may not be a comprehensive book about the universe, it does highlight many of the main aspects of life with a focus on trusting in God and loving others.

    4) Prayer is talking to our Father – In this video, http://goo.gl/IPQI5, Pastor Mark Dricoll discusses how we should be praying to God.

    In summation, prayer is not the act of trying to crack a code or having the right combination of words to move the hand of God, but it is a unique way to share our hearts with God. Not in a religious way, but the Bible simply teaches us to be respectful and honoring to God when we do pray to him. God is not a vending machine to put in the proper amount of prayer to make a healing or check drop down the chute. He is a being with His own emotions, desires, and ways of communicating with us as well. Prayer is first and foremost built on relationships not scripted formulas.

    Once I write a more complete post on this subject, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, Please let me know if you have any questions. Take Care.

    -Juan

    • As I am sure you have realized, this article only used prayer as one example of something which is testable. Miracles. creation and other claims are logically and scientifically testable. Prayer was just a single example and I used it because it has the most scientifically collected data that is easy to understand.

      The big bang, for example, has evidence supporting it collected by the Hubble Space telescope. It was shown that a god is not needed to create the universe and that it could arise from completely natural causes. Also, logically testing intelligent design leads to the simple arguments “If the universe needs to have designed due to complexity, what designed this intelligent designer?”

      It should also be noted that saying “prayer is not testable” and other similar excuses are just ad hoc explanations for when something does not meet its burden of proof. Why is it that god can be untestable and not require evidence but the big bang has evidence, there is evidence against prayer, etc. Why can’t atheist make the claim that their theories are untestable and get away with it? We barely get by with evidence as it is.

      • Hey AJ,
        Yes, I agree that Prayer is testable. By definition, virtually anything is testable, but what I was trying to point out, is that in those studies, they did not report that prayer was being used correctly, according to the Bible. Therefore, the margin of error is unaccounted for, rendering the results invalid.

        How accurate would my results be if I tested the effectiveness of a hammer to a nail, but instead of swinging it properly, like instructed in most manuals, I just let it drop off the roof of a two story building? If I was unaware that I was using the hammer incorrectly, I would have concluded that a hammer is not very effective at nailing. Sure this example sounds extreme, but to test something like the effectiveness of prayer without taking the precautions of studying prayer and using it within a biblical context, or in the context of a specific religion, would be just as careless.

        When it comes to testing or proving the existence of God, yes, I along with many christians believe that God is untestable by science. As I previously stated on my blog, due to the definition of “science” it is limited to the natural or physical world. In John 4:24, it says that, “God is Spirit.” Since science cannot explain anything beyond into the spiritual or supernatural, there has to be either an agreement that since these claims cannot be proven true or false, scientifically, they are no longer a concern for the scientific community, or new tools, instruments, and ways to test the supernatural need to be invented.

        Also, hopefully you find me as an agreeable christian, as I do think there is possible evidences for a “big bang” type origin to the universe. Especially, when considering the red shift of the stars and the microwave background radiation found throughout the universe. But in my opinion, I feel that what I’ve read in the Bible and what I’ve seen and experienced in my life, to be more compelling and has lead me to believe in a loving God, who has a plan to save us, through Jesus’ sacrifice, and to restore this world which has been plagued by sin.

        Going back to the matter of prayer. Please let me know if there is anything you need prayer for. I talk to my Dad in heaven on a regular basis and I’m sure he would love for you to get to know him as well. Take care my friend!

        -Juan

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