Empirically Test The Existence Of God?

In my conversations with atheists and agnostics some have made the statement “the only way we can know if something is true or not is through empirical testing”.  Many then follow by saying this “disproves” the knowledge of the existence of God… saying “since we can’t empirically test the existence of God we cannot know for sure He exists”.  While this line of reasoning may seem logical in a society dominated by the philosophy of Naturalistic Materialism it has one severe problem… it is self-defeating.  For you cannot empirically test the statement “the only way we can know for something is true or not is through empirical testing”.  Therefore, turning the statement against itself we cannot know if it is true!

While empirical testing is a wonderful tool, to say it is the only way to know truth is vastly overreaching.  Of course we can know truth without empirical testing.   We do it everyday using the process of induction – drawing general conclusions through specific observation.  For example, if someone were to tell you they have a friend by the name of Henry who is a 4 legged reptile, you would logically determine Henry is not a man.  Every man you have observed in your life is a mammal (most with 2 legs… none with 4!), therefore, Henry cannot be a man. 

Can induction be used to determine the existence of God?  Absolutely!  We investigate God the same way we investigate other things we cannot see around us (i.e. gravity) – by observing their effects.  We will touch on this in future posts.

Darrell

  • This is certainly accurate, and it’s the fallacy of all empirical arguments. One cannot “prove” a conclusion without understanding the assumptions on which it’s based.

    However, I’d caution against making the equally faulty argument that a conclusion can be proved inductively. Inductive reasoning leads to potential hypotheses but maintaining that one can “prove” by example weakens your argument.

    I think we must acknowledge that some ideas are matters of faith. We can substantiate those ideas inductively, but that’s different from actual proof.

  • Rich,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree. There are many things we cannot “prove” inductively. I have heard the example before regarding dropping a pen. If I drop a pen over and over again in my home town in NC, I can inductively reason that if I drop that same pen in China that it will fall to the ground there as well. However, until I do so I cannot say with 100% certainty that it will. It takes an amount of faith, however small it might be, to reason that it will. This is how it is with many, many things we all believe to be true.

    Darrell

  • gal