Yes it is too so a question for science

In a high school biology class.

“Can anybody think of a question science can’t answer?”

“Is there a God?” shot back a boy near the window.

“Good,” said Mr. Campbell, an Anglican who attends church most Sundays. “Can’t test it. Can’t prove it, can’t disprove it. It’s not a question for science.”

Can test it if it’s the kind of God that pokes around in our world. Is a question for science if it causes people to win sprints and get sick and get well and survive hurricanes.

PZ is on the case.

I despise that chicken-hearted answer. There are two reasonable ways to address that. One is to accept the usual open-ended, undefined vagueness of the god entity and point out that the reason it can’t be answered is that it is a bad question — it’s not even wrong. Science doesn’t answer it, but then no discipline can, because it’s a garbage question like “what color are invisible elephants?” If that’s what window-boy intends with his petty little gotcha, he deserves to have the inanity of his idea disparaged.

The other approach is to pin the question down. What god? What actions has it taken in the natural world? How does it influence us specifically? Then you can tackle that god with science by testing the purported effects it has. A potentially falsifiable or verifiable god is a legitimate target of scientific investigation…of course, that kind of god seems to vanish as soon as it is scrutinized, and its advocates rapidly fall back on the not-even-wrong version of a deity.

Just so.

I do wish – forlornly – there weren’t such a torrent of goddy nonsense in the US presidential campaign. I know that’s asking for the moon, but I do wish. I wish Obama didn’t have to ‘reach out’ to the godbotherers.

Russell Blackford is putting together a book of essays on not believing in God. I’m one of the contributors and I sent my essay off today.

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