Science and Religion

Rational Response to Unobservable Claims


Salman Ahmed Shaikh

Scientists who do not believe in God know that science can neither prove nor disprove God. But, they try to demean the importance of existential questions with casual remarks. Prof. Richard Dawkins once said that God’s existence cannot be disproved just like it cannot be disproved that a flying horse exists or fairies live beneath the garden.

First of all, it does not come under the domain of science to be an arbiter in such matters. It is the limitation of science, but not of human rationality. Human rationality is not confined to believing only in physically observable realities.

Even though Prof. Lawrence Krauss thinks that the ultimate arbiter of truth is experiment, science would come at a standstill when faced with realities that are not physical. Science would not tell us about the motive, will and morals definitively.

It is correct that not all beliefs are true. Some are mere superstitions. A belief can be true or false. If we cannot prove or disprove God from scientific method alone, then we need to evaluate a belief by using other faculties other than physical senses, such as logic and philosophy. If a concept dates back to history, then we ought to evaluate history and archaeology. If the concept is written in a book and millions of people attribute their held views to that book, then one is ought to read and evaluate information in that book. Curiosity demands this continuous probing from a person who is interested in seeking reality, knowledge and truths.

From the perspective of science, take the unprovable proposition that there exist unobservable fairies beneath the garden. When the human rationality would understand that this is an unobservable proposition, it would employ other faculties to probe it further rather than relying on experiments or physical senses.

For instance, ask who believes that fairies exist beneath the gardens. If none, then we do not need to find an answer to an irrelevant hypothetical belief as to whether it is true or false. If someone does believe in unobservable fairies beneath the garden, we need to see what question it answers for him/her and what is the source of this answer? This kind of logical probing will be done to all kinds of beliefs, whether it is existence of unicorn or tea pot orbiting around some distant planet. It should be clear that how probing unobservable claims can be debunked through logic and rationality, whereas science on its own cannot resolve unobservable absurdities definitively.

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