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Thread: Does God Exist?

  1. #46
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David_Richards
    The answer to the question 'does God exist' in entirely emotive, because God means different things to different people and because in the case of the omnipotent God, it cannot be discovered by any reasoned argument.
    I think it is too early to be drawing that conclusion. For instance there is probably still much to be said about whether "God exists." is a meaningful sentence and whether "existing" is the sort of thing "God" as commonly defined could actually do. Also I think that if the universe as it presented itself to us was radically incoherent when seen through the eyes of science, so that almost nothing around us was predictable, then that would have some kind of sway on a reasoned view.

    In discovering 'God' some people do indeed find meaning in their lives in a very personal sense. If it allows them to function better as an individual, then it serves a purpose.
    For them it does. Still irrelevant to the question of whether God exists.

    However, if you remain faithful to logical argument, one cannot be entirely sure, because anything is possible, even if it stands outside the physical confines of our universe. The multiple universe argument is similar, though logic tells us this is perhaps far more likely than a omniscent being.
    An important difference is that if you say there are more universes, you are just proposing that there is more of something than you are able to observe. Whereas if you say there is only one universe but also one God, you are proposing an extra class of beings - with properties radically different to what you know - with no prior evidence that other examples of such beings "exist". And I'm not saying there are more universes, I'm only saying that there might be. So adding God raises a lot more Occam's Razer type issues.

    On the question of being "sure", it is possible to object to being "sure" of anything using trite arguments of the "...but what if it is all a dream...", "...but what if I'm really just a brain in a vat..." type. These don't really obstruct "certainty" (if that word is to have any actual meaning at all) because they are untestable. The onus is on the believer to establish tests for the existence of God and place "but what if there was really an all-powerful being that created the universe" on a much higher footing than those kinds of trite-scepticism type arguments.

    Also the chances of an omniscent being having any interest in planet earth, other than to create a new hyperspace bypass perhaps, is equally unlikely.
    Ah, the truth is revealed, you were a Vogon worshipper all along. Just don't read us any of your poetry.

    It certainly sounds like you do, very much as it happens.
    What I meant is that my support for what I see as full seperation of church and state is not affected by any arguments concerning the past history of such ideas. I threw that in in anticipation of Goughfather jumping in with his usual line on that question. I like to save people effort.

    People don't believe in God because it's logically sound, they don't care very much about the logic of it at all. What they are trying to find is personal to them, probably love, probably security, probably meaning. They are distilled from that wonderful human trait called emotion, and personally I'd like very much to keep that within the human race, even if it is illogical. The fact you don't care to pay attention to the lessons of history just displays the extent of your ignorance.
    As you will see from my comment you are missing the point of what I said. People can go and find their God in the way you mention as much as they like, that is their business. It is only when they get political about it or make inaccurate statements about the rational basis of the beliefs of others that we have an issue. If they get emotional about being corrected, well isn't emotion just a "wonderful human trait"? Surely you wouldn't want to sanitise emotion so that believers lived in coccoons and only experienced religious happiness and were never confronted with dout?

    And who is to be judge and jury about who's view is more valid? I reckon it would be the friends and families of the debaters, as to how much they love and respect them, as to how they appear to their community. Maybe how much they are valued in their community, how many loyal friends they have at birthdays and their funeral, or maybe whether their kids want to be with them?
    That would turn philosophy into a popularity contest. A person could be deluded in almost everything and yet still loved for their character, just as another person could be almost invariably correct and hated for theirs. A person's character does not reflect much about the truth of their beliefs - particularly not given that moral conduct is subjective anyway.
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 25-08-2004 at 03:54 PM.

  2. #47
    Mr Bulldogs Paul S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    We already know that life on earth sustains itself in a wide range of very extreme conditions, including (among others) volcanic vents in deep trenches on the ocean floor, and salt lakes buried deep beneath ice sheets in Antarctica. Productive ecosystems capable of sustaining human life occur in environments where daily maximums are frequently over 40 deg C and in places where daily minimums are frequently well below zero. Earth has sustained life consistently in the past through considerable fluctuations in mean temperature. Based on this, an "earthlike" planet would probably have tens of millions of km leeway in the distance from the Sun it could form at and still sustain life (possibly even "advanced life", though it might not look like us.) Since we know there are four planets within the first 200 million km of the sun the odds are not that bad. Also scientists take seriously the possibility of life of some kind (either in the past or future, if not the present) on at least three other bodies in our present solar system (Mars, Europa, Titan).
    I have doubts that anything could live on any planet except Earth (in our Solar System), although it is theoretically possible that (at best) some type of lichen/algae could exist in an "extremely favourable location" on Mars or microscopic lifeforms next to volcanic vents on say Europa. Even if they did/could, such "life" would be of a very basic/primitive nature compared to what is on Earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Also true of other bodies in our solar system. Formation of several stably orbiting planets around certain kinds of stars appears to be a common process.
    Indeed. Which begs the questions:
    1) Could all these planets like Mars, Jupiter etc have been created by sheer chance?
    2) What are the odds on misellaneous clumps of matter just happening to come together by sheer chance (ie without a designer/planner, God) and form planets that just happen to rotate at the right velocity around the sun (any slower they would be sucked into the sun; any faster they would spin off into space).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    This is a common objection but the problem with it is that these cells do not just happen to align themselves "by chance", but through a long process in which designs that work tend to outperform designs that don't, and because the design is genetic in basis the better-working designs tend to become commoner, while the non-working or less effective ones are sifted out. If you had to get everything right in one go by chance it would never happen - but if any element that is got right "by chance" is retained it becomes heaps easier.

    This sort of experiment is sometimes used to show the difference: Take 20 dice and try rolling 20 sixes at once. You'll be there most of the rest of your life. Instead, try taking 20 dice, but whenever you roll a 6, keep it and just reroll the others until all 20 dice have rolled a 6 once. Won't take half an hour. The difference in how long it takes to get a working design by "directed" evolution as opposed to complete chance is similar to this.
    So who/what is doing the "directing"? Who/what is doing the "designing"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Another point I'll add here is that it's common to try to prove that the evolution of human life was very improbable. It's actually not that difficult to do because when enough precise data are included any event can be made to seem very improbable. But the question properly asked is not: what are the odds of humans living on Earth now, but: what are the odds of a life form similarly complex to ourselves, living somewhere in the universe, at some stage? Even if the probability there comes out low (I personally reckon it comes out pretty close to 1) that still doesn't prove God exists. Maybe if it came out very very low we could start getting suspicious.

    Compared to the scale of the Big Bang all the human-made explosions that have ever occurred on earth, put together, are next to nothing. The start of life post-BB would have occurred not as a result of the explosion itself but through complex post-BB chemical interactions which would not have even started until the earth formed as a stable body and cooled enough to sustain life of some sort. Even then the initial seeds of life would have been a miniscule proportion of all the chemicals slopping around on the entire planet.
    Some more points to consider (in addition to the 3 mentioned in my post at the beginning of this thread):
    1) Is it just sheer chance that the Earth's atmosphere has just the right make-up to shield the earth from harmful (excess) UV radiation (sun) yet at the same time keeps in the life giving compostion of gases to sustain life on Earth?
    2) Is it just sheer chance that the Earth's atmosphere has just the right proportion of gases to sustain life?
    3) Is it just sheer chance that other planets like Mars, Jupiter etc have been created? What are the odds on miscellaneous clumps of matter just happening to come together by sheer chance (ie without a designer/planner, God) and form planets (Mars, Jupiter etc) that just happen to rotate at the right velocity around the sun (any slower they would be sucked into the sun; any faster they would spin off into space).

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    I should note that none of the above are intended as disproofs of the existence of God - I just mean to show that there's nothing so improbable in the formation of life as we know it to make God necessary. There are a very wide range of probability-based arguments for God of this sort but I've never come across one that hangs together.
    Maybe my arguments above will convince you!

  3. #48
    Account Permanently Banned PHAT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul S
    Thankyou for that, Matthew. This figure would be about right for the Universe to be created by sheer chance.

    In plain language anything with odds of 10^42^42:1 will NEVER happen.

    Which of the following two options is easier to believe?

    1) That something with odds of 10^42^42:1 happening (ie the creation of the Universe by sheer chance).
    2) A Creator (ie God) created the Universe.
    Sorry Paul. The "42" is a reference to a BBC radio show/book called "Life, the Universe and Everything"

    The chance of a/our Universe becoming a reality is exactly 1. ie certain - because it the only alternative answer is zero. Since zero is not true (we are here!), the chance must be 1.

    As for the chances of god being true, it is somewhere between zero and 1 inclusive.

    So, a betting person would be a fool to back god against certainty.

  4. #49
    CC Grandmaster arosar's Avatar
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    That's very interesting. Which reminds me: any1 know how you calculate the p-value of a t-statistic?

    FMD! I'm so shite at maths.

    AR

  5. #50
    CC International Master Rhubarb's Avatar
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    A word to the wise, Paul. Your best chance is asking him how to spell "separate".

    *disappears*

  6. #51
    CC Grandmaster Alan Shore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arosar
    That's very interesting. Which reminds me: any1 know how you calculate the p-value of a t-statistic?

    FMD! I'm so shite at maths.

    AR
    Yeah, use tables (at the back of the textbook!)
    "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then."
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  7. #52
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    By all means, have faith in a God if that's what floats your boat, but it's pretty pointless trying to prove her existence by "logical" arguments (or any other kind).

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul S
    Now, if there is NO God, then the following would have happened by sheer chance...[etc]
    I think a quote from a Douglas Adams speech should suffice here:

    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Adams View Post
    This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in—an interesting hole I find myself in—fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’

  8. #53
    CC Grandmaster antichrist's Avatar
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    Hume's Treatise on Miracles

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Looking for a copy online ... if I find one I will post a link.
    I think it is called Hume's Treatise on Miracles. I only have a fraction of my books with me here, but I will look for tomorrow. I condensed them into five points years ago.

  9. #54
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul S
    I have doubts that anything could live on any planet except Earth (in our Solar System), although it is theoretically possible that (at best) some type of lichen/algae could exist in an "extremely favourable location" on Mars or microscopic lifeforms next to volcanic vents on say Europa.
    But Mars is considered to have done its dash - eg the water that may have once been freeflowing is now sub-surface or gone. Before all that happened it may have been a very different story. I'm not aware of any reason why Mars could not have had complex life in the past.

    Indeed. Which begs the questions:
    1) Could all these planets like Mars, Jupiter etc have been created by sheer chance?
    2) What are the odds on misellaneous clumps of matter just happening to come together by sheer chance (ie without a designer/planner, God) and form planets that just happen to rotate at the right velocity around the sun (any slower they would be sucked into the sun; any faster they would spin off into space).
    It can't be too improbable, because even based on our limited ability to perceive planets orbiting distant suns, astronomers have already recognised several other cases of planets doing so. Given how few solar systems can even be assessed using our existing technology, and given that several planets have been found out there, there's bound to be other systems pretty much like ours out there.

    I'm not an expert on planetary mechanics but I would assume that early in a solar system's life there is all kinds of rubbish flying around at all kinds of velocities - some bits getting sucked into the sun, some bits spinning off into space, and some very few bits (miniscule compared to the sun and the size of the system) stabilising at a distance. If this is so it would be unusual for a star the size of our sun not to have anything orbiting it.

    So who/what is doing the "directing"? Who/what is doing the "designing"?
    No-one - the "direction" in the process is simply because designs that work better succeed (in general) and designs that work worse don't. It's like an algorithm in maths, an algorithm can converge on a particular value but that doesn't mean anyone is steering it there.

    1) Is it just sheer chance that the Earth's atmosphere has just the right make-up to shield the earth from harmful (excess) UV radiation (sun) yet at the same time keeps in the life giving compostion of gases to sustain life on Earth?
    2) Is it just sheer chance that the Earth's atmosphere has just the right proportion of gases to sustain life?
    Actually both of these things owe their existence to the development of basic life (blue green algae) around a billion years ago. There was no UV shield like we have now and the atmosphere was very different before early life forms freed O2 through photosynthesis. These O2 molecules were split by UV rays to form O3 (ozone) which formed the UV-block so useful for higher forms of life as we now know it. Lucky? I'm not sure - think of all the zillions of other chemical interactions going on that did absolutely nothing to sustain life or even harmed it, is it so unreasonable that one of them was actually useful?

    Even if we are "lucky", it still comes down to the equivalent of "I won the lottery therefore God exists", which doesn't really work.
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 26-08-2004 at 01:23 AM.

  10. #55
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_Canfell
    A word to the wise, Paul. Your best chance is asking him how to spell "separate".

    *disappears*
    I shall have to make an effort to actually learn that one permanently. Sad to say, apart from learning how to spell "necessary", my spelling has not really improved since about age ten.

  11. #56
    CC International Master Cat's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    I think it is too early to be drawing that conclusion. For instance there is probably still much to be said about whether "God exists." is a meaningful sentence and whether "existing" is the sort of thing "God" as commonly defined could actually do. Also I think that if the universe as it presented itself to us was radically incoherent when seen through the eyes of science, so that almost nothing around us was predictable, then that would have some kind of sway on a reasoned view.
    Not for me it's not, life's too short. The 'if's' & 'but's' are irrelevant, the Universe is what it is.


    For them it does. Still irrelevant to the question of whether God exists.
    Objectively but not subjectively. If I want to believe in a God that's my perogative, I don't have to reason or justify my belief.


    An important difference is that if you say there are more universes, you are just proposing that there is more of something than you are able to observe. Whereas if you say there is only one universe but also one God, you are proposing an extra class of beings - with properties radically different to what you know - with no prior evidence that other examples of such beings "exist". And I'm not saying there are more universes, I'm only saying that there might be. So adding God raises a lot more Occam's Razer type issues.
    Yes, that's why I said a God is a far less likely possibility.

    On the question of being "sure", it is possible to object to being "sure" of anything using trite arguments of the "...but what if it is all a dream...", "...but what if I'm really just a brain in a vat..." type. These don't really obstruct "certainty" (if that word is to have any actual meaning at all) because they are untestable. The onus is on the believer to establish tests for the existence of God and place "but what if there was really an all-powerful being that created the universe" on a much higher footing than those kinds of trite-scepticism type arguments.
    There is no onus on the believer to justify anything. If I said Genesis was the best rock band of all time, you and everybody else mught think I was ridiculous, but I can still believe that if I choose, its entirely my perogative.

    Ah, the truth is revealed, you were a Vogon worshipper all along. Just don't read us any of your poetry.
    Don't tempt me.


    What I meant is that my support for what I see as full seperation of church and state is not affected by any arguments concerning the past history of such ideas.
    Why not? Surely experiences like the Cultural Revolution have much to teach us - that perhaps there is little difference between pastoral and secular dogma.

    People can go and find their God in the way you mention as much as they like, that is their business. It is only when they get political about it or make inaccurate statements about the rational basis of the beliefs of others that we have an issue.
    Politicians make inaccurate statements all the time, many of then have made it an art form. Why hold a different standard for Christians? Maybe you hold the same prejudices against Genesis fans, or people with bent noses?

    If they get emotional about being corrected, well isn't emotion just a "wonderful human trait"? Surely you wouldn't want to sanitise emotion so that believers lived in coccoons and only experienced religious happiness and were never confronted with dout?
    This is just obscene, religious vilification. These comments are simply ignorant bigotry, you should be ashamed, KB.

    That would turn philosophy into a popularity contest. A person could be deluded in almost everything and yet still loved for their character, just as another person could be almost invariably correct and hated for theirs. A person's character does not reflect much about the truth of their beliefs - particularly not given that moral conduct is subjective anyway.
    No, I wasn't talking about philosophy, I was talking about love - a wonderfully illogical, unreasoned, stupid and pointless human behaviour.
    Power comes from the barrel of a gun.

  12. #57
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David_Richards
    Not for me it's not, life's too short.
    But not too short for you to waste time defending the proposition that life's too short, or posting hundreds of posts of completely ineffectual ratings beatups. You ought to reconsider your priorities, dude.

    Objectively but not subjectively. If I want to believe in a God that's my perogative, I don't have to reason or justify my belief.
    I question whether people believe because they consciously want to, but anyway, no-one indeed "has" to hold reasons or justify them. That is not at issue, we are talking about what reasons can or can't be used by those who wish to attempt to use reason in the debate. The rest can wait outside.

    There is no onus on the believer to justify anything. If I said Genesis was the best rock band of all time, you and everybody else mught think I was ridiculous, but I can still believe that if I choose, its entirely my perogative.
    So do you actually think that Genesis was the best rock band of all time?

    (rest of this quote - see above.)

    Don't tempt me.
    Consider yourself not tempted.

    Why not? Surely experiences like the Cultural Revolution have much to teach us - that perhaps there is little difference between pastoral and secular dogma.
    Read Goughfather's opening post on the C+S thread to see why this is not an authentic instance of "separation of Church and State". When the two are truly separate, neither imposes forcefully on the other.

    Politicians make inaccurate statements all the time, many of then have made it an art form. Why hold a different standard for Christians? Maybe you hold the same prejudices against Genesis fans, or people with bent noses?
    Genesis fans ... hmmm. Don't tempt me.

    I actually spend far more time bagging out pollies and political activists for using weak arguments than I do bagging out Christians for the same. It's just that this board is more interested in religious issues than political ones.

    This is just obscene, religious vilification. These comments are simply ignorant bigotry, you should be ashamed, KB.
    The ignorant one who should be ashamed is you. You made no attempt to read the comment you quoted, which contained no criticism of believers whatsoever but simply pointed out why your argument based on "emotion" is rubbish.

    No, I wasn't talking about philosophy, I was talking about love - a wonderfully illogical, unreasoned, stupid and pointless human behaviour.
    All the more reason not to consider it useful in answering questions about whose beliefs are correct.

    Though, FWIW, I do believe you sell it short. I have done this myself sometimes, but only for effect.

  13. #58
    CC International Master Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham

    All the more reason not to consider it useful in answering questions about whose beliefs are correct.
    This answers all the points you've raised, it comes down to this, which beliefs are correct. Because that's all this is - belief, nothing more, nothing less. The 'point' of belief is to sustain the individual, it equates with hope. There's nohing logical about it, it cannot be reasoned, it emerges from our insinct to survive.

    And why is any belief more correct than any other? Because a belief system simply permits an individual to interact with the world around them. How do you measure correctness? Impossible but perhaps happiness is the closest correlation and the measure of correctness might be the degree to which the individual integrates within their community.

    Because the most powerful of our instincts is survival. For example, it might be entirely rational for an individual that has reasoned that the existence of a God is almost impossible, or entirely illogical at the very least, to become a devout Christian if his extended community were entirely devout Christians. Because to him the most important consideration might be integration, social acceptance, the ability to form allegiances - survival. The logic of the argument whether God exists becomes entirely superfluous.
    Power comes from the barrel of a gun.

  14. #59
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David_Richards
    This answers all the points you've raised, it comes down to this, which beliefs are correct. Because that's all this is - belief, nothing more, nothing less. The 'point' of belief is to sustain the individual, it equates with hope. There's nohing logical about it, it cannot be reasoned, it emerges from our insinct to survive.

    And why is any belief more correct than any other? Because a belief system simply permits an individual to interact with the world around them. How do you measure correctness? Impossible but perhaps happiness is the closest correlation and the measure of correctness might be the degree to which the individual integrates within their community.

    Because the most powerful of our instincts is survival. For example, it might be entirely rational for an individual that has reasoned that the existence of a God is almost impossible, or entirely illogical at the very least, to become a devout Christian if his extended community were entirely devout Christians. Because to him the most important consideration might be integration, social acceptance, the ability to form allegiances - survival. The logic of the argument whether God exists becomes entirely superfluous.
    Sounds like you should be debating on the topic, Does it make sense to consider whether god exists? But that is not the opic of this thread.

    Obviously scientific method has been applied to almost every field of endeavour with a great deal of success. The advancement of technology, understanding of the physical world, medicine, etc have all advanced in leaps and bounds.

    Why should the existence of god be any different then to the existence of the ether, for example? In the first half of the 19th century the dominent scientific theory was that space was permiated by an ether, which was the medium by which light-waves propogated.

    Of course no one was able to measure this ether but they reasoned it should exist, otherwise the light had no way to get from here to there. Then of course Michelson and Morsley (sp check) conducted their famous experiments which through considerable doubt on the existence of the ether.

    The debunking of the ether allowed Einstein to theorise about there not existing any single frame of reference which is better than any other and the speed of light being constant for all observers and the rest, as they say, is history.

    So explain why we can investigate the existence of the ether with huge benefits for human understanding but you are saying the same approach is invalid when applied to gods.

    Surely if there is some claim made by religious adherents which is scientifically falsifiable, then it is natural that experiments should be done, observations made and hypothesis disproven or otherwise. Saying hands off this subject makes no sense as you are setting an arbitrary boundary on scientific investigation.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

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    CC International Master Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Cox
    Sounds like you should be debating on the topic, Does it make sense to consider whether god exists? But that is not the opic of this thread.

    Obviously scientific method has been applied to almost every field of endeavour with a great deal of success. The advancement of technology, understanding of the physical world, medicine, etc have all advanced in leaps and bounds.

    Why should the existence of god be any different then to the existence of the ether, for example? In the first half of the 19th century the dominent scientific theory was that space was permiated by an ether, which was the medium by which light-waves propogated.

    Of course no one was able to measure this ether but they reasoned it should exist, otherwise the light had no way to get from here to there. Then of course Michelson and Morsley (sp check) conducted their famous experiments which through considerable doubt on the existence of the ether.

    The debunking of the ether allowed Einstein to theorise about there not existing any single frame of reference which is better than any other and the speed of light being constant for all observers and the rest, as they say, is history.

    So explain why we can investigate the existence of the ether with huge benefits for human understanding but you are saying the same approach is invalid when applied to gods.

    Surely if there is some claim made by religious adherents which is scientifically falsifiable, then it is natural that experiments should be done, observations made and hypothesis disproven or otherwise. Saying hands off this subject makes no sense as you are setting an arbitrary boundary on scientific investigation.
    Nice argument. What you're really talking about is empirical observation, without which one merely has postulation. The question is what exactly are you trying to empirically investigate? God only exists in words, without language there is no tangable Godly presence. Our God doesn't physically exist outside vocabulary and our psyche.

    In order to use empirical enquiry to investigate the existence of God, one would have to measure some specific aspect of Godly behaviour. According to the word, Our God is everything. In effect the Universe is God and all behaviour is Godly by definition, if its an omniscient, omnipotent God we're talking about. So any outcome to any experiment in effect becomes a validation of God's existence and empirical enquiry breaks down.
    Power comes from the barrel of a gun.

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