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Why Has Science Failed to Find God?

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

It seems to me that god believers should be very concerned that science has failed to find any trace of positive evidence that god exists. Given science’s amazing track record of predicting, discovering, measuring, and describing dozens of invisible things, some with only very tiny effects on our material world, why is there still no tangible, reproducible evidence of the existence of a god, an entity which supposedly created and supports the continued existence of everything else?

My claim here is that if there is a god which interacts in any way with our world, science should by now have measured, at least statistically, some effects of that interaction. Somewhere there should be some data that simply cannot be explained by purely natural causes. Yet, while scientists have scoured, tested, and measured the earth and the heavens for thousands of years, they have yet to uncover that data.

Of course, this failure of science to find god goes back as far as science itself. In 240 BCE, in ancient Greece, Eratosthenes determined the earth was a sphere and measured its circumference with amazing accuracy by measuring shadows cast by the sun in different locations. This was about 1700 years before Columbus. Eratosthenes also measured the tilt of the earth’s axis with surprising accuracy. All in all, the ancient Greeks accomplished a great many exceptional scientific feats, yet they could find no trace of Zeus, Poseidon, Apollo, or any other god.

In the late 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton calculated that the planets’ orbits were unstable and thought they would need a push by god periodically to keep them in orbit. A hundred years or so later, Pierre-Simon Laplace wrote an important book on celestial mechanics which found those orbits to be stable. When Napoleon was shown the book, he asked Laplace why it said nothing about Newton’s claim about god stabilizing the planets’ orbits. Laplace is said to have replied, “Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis.” Again, there was no trace of god in those calculations or in the heavens.

Sometimes, the data even seems to work directly against the god hypothesis. In colonial America, before lightning rods were invented, churches were constantly being struck by lightning and burning down, and were often the only structures so affected. They were much more frequent targets than houses or any other type of building. Why were god’s houses the prime targets of lightning? If we use god as an explanation, then we must somehow ignore or argue around his alleged grace, compassion, and desire for worship. But nature gives us a very simple explanation: the churches were the tallest structures on the landscape, and lightning tends to strike the tallest structures the most. This suggests there is no god protecting his own.

Speaking of protecting his own, according to the Bible, God “delivered” his chosen people, the Jews, from the Egyptians. Isn’t it a little strange then that he failed to deliver them from the Nazis?

If there’s a god who really favors those who worship him, shouldn’t we expect to be able to measure this effect? Well, it turns out that, in general, the areas in the world with the highest levels of religiosity, like Africa and the Middle East, are the areas with the weakest economies and the poorest health. And, Western Europe and Japan, with the lowest levels of religiosity, consistently outshine the rest of the world in economic and health measures. The Scandinavian countries, among the least religious in the world, present perhaps the best evidence of this non-correlation of godliness and societal health. As Victor J. Stenger put it in “The New Atheists,” “By every measure of societal health – life expectancy, literacy rates, school enrollment rates, standard of living, infant mortality, child welfare, economic equality, economic competitiveness, gender equality, healthcare, lack of corruption, environmental protection, charity to poor nations, crime, suicide, unemployment – Denmark and Sweden rank near the top.”

Similarly, in the U.S., the states with the greatest religiosity, in the southern Bible belt, consistently measure the poorest in terms of family incomes and health.

The World Happiness Report for 2017 ranked 155 countries on seven main factors that support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, good governance, honesty, health, and income. The top 10 countries were Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden. The U.S., with higher religious identification and observance than any of these top 10, placed 14th in the ranking. And, as expected by now, the world’s most religious countries were ranked as the least happy.

Curiously, it seems that when things get better for people, they turn away from the god hypothesis, yet they stay happier and healthier. And still, science fails to find any god clues.

One thing related to god’s alleged earthly effects which has been measured statistically is prayer. The largest and most famous such study is the Harvard Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP). The findings? The Harvard press release said the study, “…found that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from surgery without complications.”

If there is a god which interacts in any way with our world, science should by now have measured [...] some effects of that interaction.Another intriguing statistical test of prayer was conducted online in 1999-2000 by the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Respondents were asked whether they approved or disapproved of same-sex marriage. They were then told to pray and ask whether god approved or disapproved and rank how sure they were that god had given them a definite answer. About half said they approved of same-sex marriage and the other half said they didn’t. However, 43 of the 49 who said they got an answer from their prayers said they were either “very sure” or “certain” “that they had accurately determined the will of God.” Interestingly, in every single case, whether the respondent approved or disapproved of same-sex marriage, their prayers “confirmed” that god agreed with them. Given these results, I think that we can be pretty sure that no god was involved in this study.

Science kicked into high gear with the Enlightenment, about 350 years ago. Ever since then scientists in dozens of sub-specialties have been observing, testing, theorizing about, and making predictions concerning the natural world of matter and energy.

The search for answers about how the world works has been broad and deep, involving physics, astronomy, cosmology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, logic, geology, quantum mechanics, relativity, and many more fields of scientific inquiry. The millions of descriptions and measurements of what scientists have learned in this search, often with incredible accuracy, involve tens or hundreds of thousands of mathematical equations, yet not one of those equations contains a term or symbol for god. Not one.

Think of all that man has learned about how the world works, from gravity to the expanding universe, from electromagnetism to quantum mechanics, superconductivity, and fluid dynamics. Think of all the amazing engineering successes man’s equations have contributed to, like the pyramids, the Panama and Suez canals, the Chunnel, supersonic aircraft, computers, television, medical imaging machines, etc. And still there’s not one equation containing a symbol for god.

So, is there a god? Well the results are in, and science has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that when it comes to describing, measuring, and altering our universe, man has no need of that hypothesis. ALL the available data so far, gathered over the past couple thousand years, compellingly suggest that god exists only in the imaginations of men. And that is why science has failed to find god.


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