Topics in Philosophy: “God is” vs. Falsifiability

In the discussion of empiricism (looking at the facts) and rationalism (the use of reasoning) in the means of philosophical analysis, there will be points of agreement, but the use of logic breaks the rationalist free from the constraints of the empiricist.  With that in mind, I believe that there will always be a separation between the nature of God and faith and that of the sciences.  A person of faith will need to readily accept that science is part of God’s intelligent design, while a scientist may or may not accept the concept of God being associated with the natural sciences.  In either situation, there is a philosophical line between faith (what you cannot see) and fact (what is seen).

This line is commonly referred to as The Demarcation Problem.  According to Wikipedia:

“The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science is about how to distinguish between science and nonscience, including between science, pseudoscience, other activities, and beliefs. The debate continues after over a century of dialogue among philosophers of science and scientists in various fields, and despite broad agreement on the basics of scientific method.” [1]

This is an issue that goes back to the Ancient Greeks and Aristotle, but it continues today with discussions on what is real and what can be proven to those matters that cannot be proven. The line was drawn further by the efforts of verificationism, which was proposed by empirical philosophers in the early 20th century to provide a clearer understanding of the natural sciences while limiting the effect of the studies of ethics (morals and morality) and aesthetics (the arts, beauty and taste) as matters of rationalism. [2]

In response to verificationism, Karl Popper proposed the term falsifiability:

“Popper stresses the problem of demarcation—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.” [3]

With all of this in mind, can one use falsifiability to determine God’s existence?  In other words, is it possible to come up with a test that falsifies the statement, “God is”?  Under its definition, falsifiability lends to the discussion that a belief in God is certainly unscientific, which is true, but I take issue that just because belief in God is unscientific and a pseudoscience [4] does not make it any less valid. Don’t get me wrong–falsifiability is not a bad thing, but it is inconclusive when you categorize something such as creation science and intelligent design as pseudoscience.  These items are based upon faith.  (Here is where the rationalists and innate knowledge come close even though there may be disagreement of thought within the camp on self and reality.) [5]  Faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ comes from innate knowledge provided by the imparted wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:17 HCSB

Can one prove or disprove God’s existence?  Not really.  I believe He exists but I can’t prove it (and I or no one else needs to).  The evidence of his existence is overwhelming and, in the end, renders detractors from any excuse for not believing in Him (Romans 1:18-21).  God continues to reveal Himself in countless ways that enlightens some yet confounds others because of belief or unbelief in Him.  An atheist uses denial as a reason to not believe in God, but he cannot disprove His existence.  An agnostic doubts that God exists, but He can’t disprove His existence or come up with a better reason for the evidence.  The empirical thinker will only point to physical evidence that implies God’s involvement in creation.  The rational thinker will inject morality and virtue as criterion that infers God’s existence, but in both cases, it comes down to a person looking at the preponderance of evidence AND making a decision to believe, by faith, that God is.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7 HCSB

1 Article – Demarcation problem. From Wikipedia. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demarcation_problem

2 Article – Verificationism. From Wikipedia. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verificationism

3 Article – Falsifiability. From Wikipedia. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

4 Article – List of Pseudosciences. From RationalWiki. Retrieved September 25, 2014 from http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_pseudosciences

5 Article – Yount, David. Empiricism v. Rationalism. Mesa Community College, Mesa AZ © 2013 by David J. Yount from

http://www.mesacc.edu/~davpy35701/text/empm-v-ratm.html

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