Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Could there be scientific evidence for the existence of a ghost? or God?

Amstar: As for your ghost bites, absence of any evidence what is wrong with saying "We don't know what happened”?

So if there were evidence that a ghost bit you on the nose, science would have to take it seriously? Could such evidence exist?

Suppose the stars in the Virgo cluster were to spell out the words "TURN OR BURN, AMSTAR THIS MEANS YOU." Could science come to the conclusion that the message came from God?


Lippard said...

Perhaps science couldn't, but people certainly could.

Especially if those words could keep changing in response to our attempts to interact with them.

I see no problem with the notion that we could have strong empirical evidence in support of the existence of God--or, at least, a superpowerful entity claiming to be God. There are lots of possible hypotheses that would be consistent with the same evidence, but given the right demonstrations, I think it's possible for an inference to the best explanation that the God of the Bible was responsible.

Further, it's without question that an omnipotent being (assuming for the moment that such a property is not incoherent) could persuade everyone of its existence.

Victor Reppert said...

In fact, atheists frequently use such possibilities as grounds for complaint against God given the fact that evidence of this sort is not forthcoming. Such arguments work only if these would really justify theistic belief.

The example of the spelling stars, as you know, came from atheist phliosopher Keith Parsons.

I think "in principle" (as opposed to in fact) arguments hurt the anti-ID cause in the long run. If the ID skeptic can say "Go ahead: there's nothing impossible about what you're suggesting. Just show me the evidence," and it turns out (as the ID critic surely expects) that the evidence is absent, then the absence of evidence can be used as evidence of absence.

Otherwise, it's trivial.

Jason Pratt said...

Keith's example has always tickled me. Ah, if things were only that easy...

Then again, maybe it _is_ even easier than this, in a way.

Let us pretend, for a moment, that Keith Parsons' example happened to be found. (I'll set aside questions of whether this would count as a 'scientific' discovery or not; e.g. if Keith, working as a scientist, looks through a scientific instrument at a natural object and finds TURN OR BURN PARSONS THIS MEANS YOU written with natural objects, would this count as a scientific discovery, etc. Ultimately, the question is trivial.)

What is the minimum that could be reasonably inferred from the evidence? (Deductively if possible, but I'll allow inductive theories, too.)

Note: a supernatural God exists is _not_ what I would consider to be the minimum conclusion from such evidence. I'm looking at the hypothetical example in order to identify principles which might be applied elsewhere.

Jason Pratt said...

Btw, I'll be out of pocket until Tuesday; at which time I'll check in to see what (if anything) anyone's come up with. (Though if everyone else takes off for Christmas holiday, that's okay, too. {g})