Which of the following is a true statement?
All evidence points to the non-existence of an all-powerful supernatural entity.
There is no evidence that an all-powerful supernatural entity exists.
The difference between the two statements seems subtle but is, in fact, as vast as the universe.
I’m not anti-aetheism. I just favor the open-minded over the absolutist. Though my experiences with people with absolutist views tell me I probably won’t be opening any minds with this article, I’m gonna try anyway.
The first thing we have to get out of the way is the whole Science vs. Religion debate. I’ll make this quick. Science wins, but only if you actually put them against each other. There is absolutely zero undeniable evidence in the validity of any religion while there is plenty of undeniable evidence in the validity of science. Only ignorance, and I mean that in the purest sense of the word, can deny the truth in the previous sentence. The thing with science is that there is provable, undeniable, evidence at every step of the way and there is no need for the word “believe”. We can know if we take the time to understand.
Don’t think I’m saying religion is complete bunk. That’s precisely the opposite of the purpose of this article.
There’s quite a bit to be said for faith. I’m all for believing in God or the gods or pretty much anything that science cannot prove does not exist. I’m even all for Atheists who believe there are no gods, with a caveat, that they should understand they have a belief and the scientific facts cannot support the absolute non-existence of supernatural entities.
I can prove, without a doubt, there is no invisible pink elephant standing next to me. I can’t prove there is not an unperceivable elephant-like-being there. Unperceivable is non-provable. Then again, that which does not interact with the physical universe does not exist in the physical universe. Therefore the elephant-like-being does not exist, right? True, unless we believe that we simply have not developed the means to detect the interactions the elephant-like-being has with the physical universe.
Unfortunately for absolutists, that loophole must be allowed for.
Science has no need for a supernatural entity. While there are certainly behaviors in the physical world we don’t understand and cannot explain yet, we don’t need to say there is a god behind such things. We simply say we’re still learning.
Short of a supernatural entity appearing among us and going through a series of scientific test s to redefine them as simply all-powerful and no longer supernatural, we’ll likely never have absolute proof of the existence of any gods. The term supernatural means it cannot be explained through science because there isn’t any actual evidence to examine. Once we can explain it, it’s no longer supernatural.
I like to think of religion as the ultimate Schrodinger’s cat exercise. We can’t know what’s inside the box until we open it. Most religions say that can’t happen until death. Science can’t prove anything happens after death other than the body and the mind ceases to function. It can’t say anything about the soul other than there is no evidence that it exists.
A person can say, with complete truth, that they cannot believe in anything they cannot prove to be true. Some would even say it’s foolish to believe in things that cannot be proven true. However, both of those statements require some derivative of the word “belief”.
To say that that which science cannot currently prove exists cannot exist is being unscientific.
Science can prove that the events documented in some religious texts never happened. Science can prove that some of the events documented in some religious texts did actually happen; only, there is no need for a supernatural force to explain those events.
But, when it comes to the actual existence of gods, the only scientifically factual statement we can make is: There is no evidence that an all-powerful supernatural entity exists and there is no need for such an entity to explain anything we can perceive through any means. This not the same as being able to say there are no gods. Maybe we’ll find a way to perceive them in the future, maybe we won’t.
At one time in the past we could not, through any means at the time, perceive atoms. Humanity spent several centuries trying to determine what, exactly, we were made of. Several ideas were put forth and validated through philosophy and incomplete knowledge of proper scientific methodology. Advances in technologies have allowed us to find ways to perceive actual atoms and their structures. But, there was a need for atomic structure to exist to explain, for lack of a better phrase, the presence of ‘stuff’.
I could argue that the existence of gods is like the existence of Dark Energy or Dark Matter. We can’t perceive them and we don’t really know what any of them are. The problem is that scientifically, we can perceive the effects of Dark Energy and Dark Matter on the universe. There are no effects in the perceivable universe we can or need to attribute to supernatural entities.
But, as I’ve already said: There’s quite a bit to be said for faith. Faith in God or whatever gods you choose to believe in is not something we should judge or be judged for. Faith is something that exists, that we know exists. I am of the opinion there are things we should not allow faith to do to us. We should not allow faith to blind us to actual facts (Science). We should not allow faith to incite us to hatred or violence. If you want to rely on faith to save you from dangerous situations, that’s your choice. I’d recommend having a back-up plan.
I have a religion that I know to be true with all my heart. We know the heart is a foolish thing, however. And my brain certainly thinks my heart is being silly. Still I maintain my faith, based solely on what I feel. Feeling is a form of perception, right?
And, in trying to answer that question, that is why the contest between science and religion exists.