reply to post by reasonable
It is strangely compelling to note how egocentric your own views are revealed to be within this thread and it tends to lead towards wondering what
would an anti-religious zealot would do, and if that is essentially the same as what would I do? If a study were made on atheists, using a
combination of surveys, psychological manipulation, and brain scans, would anti religious people mainly draw on their own experience when attempting
to infer the will of nature? Was this in any way even considered by the venerable Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago?
Assuming this study is wholly scientific then it would be fair to assume that Epley relied upon the scientific method in order to obtain the findings
he did. If we are to assume that Epley did rely upon the scientific method to obtain his findings then it would be prudent if we ourselves
understood exactly what the scientific method is.
In its simplest terms, the scientific method is the process by which scientists over time and collectively attempt to construct an accurate or
reliable and consistent representation of the universe and nature that avoids any proclivity towards arbitrary behavior. It is through the use of
standard procedures and criteria that scientists hope to minimize the influences any person is subject to because of their own personal and cultural
beliefs. When testing a hypothesis or theory, it is imperative that the scientist attempt to minimize the influence of bias or prejudice in the
experimenter during the testing period.
There are four basic steps to the scientific method that include; 1.) Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena. 2.)
Formulating an hypothesis that would effectively explain this phenomena. 3.) Using that hypothesis to predict other phenomena or to predict
quantitatively the results of of new observations and finally, 4.) the performance of experimental tests of those predictions carried out by several
independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.
If the experiments bear out the hypothesis then it can be regarded as theory or ultimately become regarded as law. However, if the experiments do not
bear out the hypothesis then the hypothesis itself must be rejected. It is the ability to get more out of a theory than what was put in that becomes
the compelling factor of prediction and its power. The trick to proving theories often lie in the attempts made to disprove them. If, as the
original poster has suggested, the whole attempt of this experiment was to disprove God and religious beliefs should it be assumed that this attempt
to disprove God is based on an hypothesis or theory that God exists? Or has Epley fallen prey to the conundrum of attempting to prove a negative?
How can one possibly prove that something doesn't exist?
Assuming, however, that Epley did indeed apply the scientific method to his experiment then there must be an hypothesis he was working with. What
then, is that hypothesis? It appears by Ed Yong's article that this hypothesis is that people will draw upon their own personal beliefs when
attempting to infer the "will of God". Of course, the question then becomes is it really necessary to create elaborate tests and experiments to
bear out predictions made by such an hypothesis. Logic would dictate that since God by definition is a higher power not subject to the subjective
view of humans, indeed by the American Christian perspective solely relied upon in this particular study God would be a figure of grand omnipotence
and by definition; unknowable. How could anyone possibly hope to infer the will of a figure wholly unknowable?
There seems to all ready be a flaw in the hypothesis since clearly a bias or prejudice is inherent form the get go. The bias is that those being
tested are truly faithful and wholly and unquestionably believe in God as an unknowable and omnipotent being, yet the experiment is predicated on
those people inferring the will of God. There is clearly a contradiction in this as any true believer of such a God would not, indeed could not
honestly comply. The only possible way to comply would be to, for the sake of argument, presume what God is willing and the only possible way to do
so would be for those being tested to rely upon their own personal experiences in order to put into words what that presumed will of God would be.
It could be argued that a person could rely upon imagination and create out of nothing, much as God presumably did when creating the universe, a
paradigm wholly outside of personal experience, but it could be even further argued that such an experiment could be used to simply describe the
nature of nature without any belief in a god at all. How can we, humans being completely subjective in our biological perceptions hope to perceive
the nature of nature without relying upon our own personal beliefs?
Take the Big Bang Theory, for example. Here is theory predicated on the belief that the universe was created from a singularity so remarkably dense
and so infinitesimally small as to be next to nothing and yet in all its glorious density and infinite smallness absolutely everything. Certainly
everything the universe would eventually become once singularity of infinite density and smallness agitated itself to the point of explosion or
eruption or whatever it is that a singularity of infinite density and smallness does when ultimately expanding out into the ever expanding universe
that those theorists presume the universe to be doing.
It is, after all, the belief that the universe is expanding outward that led to the belief in a Big Bang Theory that simply reversed the process of an
infinitely expanding universe into a moment of infinitely dense and small singularity. This perception of moving forwards and backwards is a
distinctly personal and egocentric view of the universe. It is we as humans in our biological form that seem to move in a linear fashion forward
while we rely upon our memories to move backward in time. This human perception of time may or may not be how time, if time actually exists, works.
How can we understand it in any other way than based upon our own personal beliefs?
To be continued....