11 February 2010

Reflection 2 - Debate with Puritan Lad

The argument that "God is the precondition of human meaningful knowledge" is a first cause argument similar to "God is the origin of life" and "God is the creator of the universe".

If god exists, god could have been the valid explanation for all the three observed facts: human's ability of meaningful knowledge, origin of life and origin of universe. However, the reverse may not be true.

Are these three observed facts evidence for god's existence? If yes, are they sufficient?

No scientific theory currently can deduce these three facts. However, there are ongoing research trying to find out the origins of these facts. If an objective, evidence-based explanation can be found for any or all of these facts, god's existence is less likely. At this point in time, since there is no accepted explanation, it becomes a philosophical debate between one of these: (1) acknowledgement that we do not have complete knowledge and do not know the explanation to these questions; (2) god exists.

My position is the first one. I am humble enough to admit that we still do not have the knowledge to know the answer to these questions. But I believe in an evidence based approach. Let us just assume we now take position (2).

Another way to test the hypothesis that god is the cause of all the three observed facts is by testing the "other predictions" of the hypothesis.

For a cosmic god, ie a god who created the universe (and everything within) and then left the universe to run its own course without interference, we cannot find any additional thing to test because all such testing would become a scientific test of the underlying working principles and nature of the universe. Such a god is also not a god of any religion.

For a personal god, such as the christian god, who cares about the nitty gitty details of human lives and answers prayer, we can test the god's hypothesis basing on one or more of the predictions. Answering prayer is one of them. All known religious god fails miserably in a test of the effectiveness of prayers. So a personal god cannot exist.

Some scientists, including Einstein, take position of the existence of a cosmic god. That's understandable. But any working rational scientists believing in a personal god would be in an untenable position to defend their scientific work ethnics against the irrational belief. Believing in a god who would interfere the normal working of the universe in answering someone's prayer is just stupid! Believing in a god as the first cause lowers the incentive to find an evidence-based explanation for the above three observed facts.

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