Demanding Scientific Physical Evidence for God

When in dialogue with atheists, there is often the demand for scientific and empirical evidence for God’s existence. However, the inappropriateness of such a request should be quickly pointed out. Scientific and empirical evidence is good when the nature of that which you are discussing and debating is consistent with such a methodology. For instance, the scientific method is a means whereby one can observe, test, and hypothesize the material world around us. However, such a methodology does not apply to immaterial reality. If the atheist objects at this point and suggests that therefore, it is irrational to believe in God since He is outside the confines of the scientific and empirical method of evaluation, it should be further pointed out that in order to be rational, one need not be able to subject all their beliefs to scientific and empirical scrutiny. Such methods are helpful when examining the physical world, but it is to commit a category mistake when you apply an empirical standard to demonstrate something that is of necessity non-empirical.

Suppose such a method of knowing and demonstration is posited as the “only” way to hold to rational belief in something, then the position itself is falsified given its self-refuting nature. If rational belief in a proposition only comes through scientific and empirical means, then what scientific and empirical evidence is there that only beliefs that can be scientifically and empirically verified are rational? There is no scientific and empirical evidence for this and so by its own standard is an irrational position to hold. Hence, it must be allowed that demonstration and knowledge should not be confined by scientific and empirical verification only. Indeed, the kind of evidence needed to demonstrate the existence of something will depend on the nature of the thing one is trying to prove. One does not prove for instance, the existence of a box of cookies in the same way one proves that the air pressure in the room is a certain percentage: One requires a “look and see” method (cookies), and the other requires the use of a barometer (air pressure).

The God of the Bible is a transcendent being that is not limited or constrained by His creation and so He cannot be placed under a microscope like some kind of lab experiment. However, this is not to say that God’s existence cannot be known. Just because one affirms that God cannot be proved empirically does not mean that God cannot be proved since empirical methods are not the only means whereby we can learn about reality, and empirical methods cannot “prove” anything in an absolute sense since all empirical methods utilize the process of induction, which only leads to “probable” conclusions. The irony in this is that even the very concept of “probability” presupposes the notion of “certainty” which itself is not based on anything that can be observed and investigated by empirical means. The notion of “certainty” comes from one’s philosophical commitments as to the nature of reality and how we know what we know.

All of this to say, we need to be very mindful of the evidential standard that is demanded by the skeptic, since it is often the case that the skeptic does not fairly apply those standards to himself, and the standard itself just gives evidence of the skeptics own bias in favor of his naturalistic perspective. Lastly, it is often the case that the standard of proof is itself logically incoherent and therefore, a faulty standard. The interesting thing is that there are many skeptics that claim to be looking for the truth, but when they provide the standard of evidence and proof demanded by their perspective, they build such a standard that defines the theists position out of existence. For example, when the naturalist says all that exists is the physical, and the theist tries to provide evidence for the immaterial, the theists position cannot be true since the naturalist has defined reality by definition as only that which is physical. This is clearly question and begging and should be pointed out.

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