F Rosa Rubicondior: Impotence Of Undetectable Gods

Thursday 9 June 2011

Impotence Of Undetectable Gods

If a god can’t be detected by science, it is utterly impotent. There is no escaping this. An undetectable god is indistinguishable from a non-existent god.

Firstly, how does science detect anything?

At its simplest level, science detects the effect of something by measuring or observing its effect on something else. For example:
  • We know how much electricity is flowing through a conductor because of the effect it has on a voltmeter - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage
  • We know about gravity by measuring how objects move in a gravity field.
  • We know about photons by measuring the effect they have on photo-sensitive chemicals or photo-electric plates.
  • We know how hot water is by measuring how much the heat expands a column of mercury, a metal bar, how it changes resistance of an electrical conductor, etc.
  • We know about wind-speed by measuring how quickly it rotates a wind-speed detector or anemometer.

Try this for yourself. Can you think of anything science can detect which doesn’t depend on detecting its effect on something else?

In other words, to be detectable by science, something must exert an effect, and to exert an effect on anything means that that effect can be measured. Therefore, anything which cannot be detected cannot possibly be influencing or changing anything in any way, otherwise we could measure it.

An undetectable god is an impotent god and is indistinguishable from a non-existent one. Such a god would be utterly incapable of communicating anything or of creating anything. A universe in which such a god, or gods, exists would be indistinguishable from one with no gods whatsoever.

So, theists, when you use the ‘undetectable by science’ excuse for your god, you are actually telling us your god is utterly impotent. (Tweet this)

So, if your god isn’t impotent, why can’t it be detected?

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  1. C'mon, why would God want to make himself detectable? That would ruin the beauty of faith.

    If you buy that, then I've got a bridge you many be interested in purchasing.

  2. You're in good company, it seems.

    Clearly, what is being explicated in this entire post is a principle that (likely) originated with Plato, something philosophers call the "Eleatic Principle."

    That is: "an entity is to be counted as real if and only if it is capable of participating in causal processes."

    There are many defenses and criticisms of it, even from philosophers hostile or indifferent to theism. I suggest that you Google the phrase and contend with the literature on the matter so as to be able to defend the content of this post in light of more sophisticated criticisms and formulations of it.


  3. MC, If something cannot participate in the causal process, how can it cause anything?

  4. Hmm… I think this is stronger than the Eleatic principle. Rosa is really recasting it as, “an entity is to be counted as real if and only if it does participate in causal processes.”


  5. Another awesome post, nicely said.

    Seems all gods are equally undetectable. Sounds like an outcome to me.

    "That god can't be detected and doesn't exist but MY god who is equally undetectable DOES exist. He told me so himself."

    And that's why I write about religion, for the laughs and endless amusement.

  6. If Jesus is Lord and he answers prayer, you might expect a blip in the statistics for, say, remission from cancer in the West - the Christian world.
    The Buddhists, Hindus and Jews should lag behind along with the Muslims. But remarkably, the undetectable loving god makes no impression on the stats.

    1. Absolutely. In fact, experiments have shown that the outcome from prayer is indistinguishable from the outcome from doing nothing.

  7. How do you handle presuppositionalism's rebuttal that casual inductive processes only work because their god makes it so. Typically they ask for an account or accounting of casualty and induction with an intention of disparaging any intellectual effort of a non-theist in an attempt to prompt an admission of ignorance. They seek to hide their god in darkness of human ignorance.
    Nice blog too, btw. Best Wishes and Regards to All.

  8. I was forced to take my time going through it in order to think through some of the ideas and reasoning it presented.


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