Now, what I would like to read from Chris is a line of argument where he can PROVE (and by prove I mean to a scientific standard, including the method of falsifiability) that a person has had revelation that could only have originated from the Christian god. If he can do that under lab conditions, then I’ll become a Christian.
How should the difference of opinion between the theist and the atheist be rationally resolved? What Dr. Stein has written indicates that he, like many atheists, has not reflected adequately on this question. He writes, and I quote, “The question of the existence of God is a factual question, and should be answered in the same way as any other factual questions.”
The assumption that all existence claims are questions about matters of fact, the assumption that all of these are answered in the very same way is not only over simplified and misleading, it is simply mistaken. The existence, factuality or reality of different kinds of things is not established or disconfirmed in the same way in every case. We might ask , “Is there a box of crackers in the pantry?” And we know how we would go about answering that question. But that is a far, far cry from the way we go about answering questions determining the reality of say, barometric pressure, quasars, gravitational attraction, elasticity, radio activity, natural laws, names, grammar, numbers, the university itself that you’re now at, past events, categories, future contingencies, laws of thought, political obligations, individual identity over time, causation, memories, dreams, or even love or beauty. In such cases, one does not do anything like walk to the pantry and look inside for the crackers. There are thousands of existence or factual questions, and they are not at all answered in the same way in each case.
Just think of the differences in argumentation and the types of evidences used by biologists, grammarians, physicists, mathematicians, lawyers, magicians, mechanics, merchants, and artists. It should be obvious from this that the types of evidence one looks for in existence or factual claims will be determined by the field of discussion and especially by the metaphysical nature of the entity mentioned in the claim under question.
Dr. Stein’s remark that the question of the existence of God is answered in the same way as any other factual question, mistakenly reduces the theistic question to the same level as the box of crackers in the pantry, which we will hereafter call the crackers in the pantry fallacy.
Paul Baird is guilty of the Crackers in the Pantry fallacy. Unfortunately his problems do not end there.
Paul apparently subscribes to the popular atheist religion of scientism. Roughly, Paul appears to believe that the only type of proof is scientific proof. But how would Paul go about proving the existence of such entities as, for example, propositional statements? Take proposition LNC: ~(A^~A) as a narrower example. Or, take some general principle like UN: nature exhibits regularities. We cannot even hope that these two examples can be proven scientifically. Yet both LNC and UN are necessary elements of any successful scientific endeavor.
Or take the foundational principle of scientism itself, SP: the only type of proof is scientific proof. Since SP cannot be proven scientifically, SP is self-referentially problematic.
But the worries do not end here. Paul mentions the “method of falsifiability.” Unfortunately, the hypothetico-deductive approach to science where “falsifiability” is most at home does not allow for rationally justified knowledge of scientific claims. Rather, one submits conjectures which are then rigorously tested and either falsified or rationally held in light of failed attempts to falsify the conjecture(s) in question. Paul thinks that falsifiability is compatible with his strange view that things can be proven through science, but it is not.
Many other arguments could be brought against Paul’s somewhat naïve view of how science and proof function, but those mentioned above suffice to show that Paul is well off the mark in asking for what he does in accord with his scientism.
Any god who is “proven” to exist in a lab cannot, by virtue of the very concepts in question, be the Christian God. This realization does not mean that we cannot prove that the Christian God exists; it simply means that Paul is fishing with too small of a net, and the net is in desperate need of repair.