Friday, September 19, 2008

Scientific proof vs. "religious proof"

With the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) opening for business, it gives me a good opportunity to write about the differences between "religious proof" *cough* and scientific proof. Note that only the second one is real. Here's why:

One particle that scientists are looking for with the LHC is called the Higgs boson. It is a theoretical particle which is believed to give the property of mass to all of the other particles (or something like that, but it isn't important what it does for our purposes here). The particle has never been observed, but is still believed to exist.

How can it be believed to exist if it has never been seen? Well, the formulas and current models suggest that it does. It theoretically exists.

You might wonder how this is different from a religion. After all, religious believers have all kinds of models of reality. They theorise that if the Universe exists, then there must be a god, or gods, to have created it. That's their model of reality. Another example can be found with the Atheist's Riddle. This guy has decided that his model of how information theory works and how DNA works, requires that there be a god to create it. So their god theoretically exists also, just like the scientists' Higgs boson.

But there is a very, very important difference, and here it is. The scientists will say that the existence of the Higgs in their models and formulas suggests its existence. Then they will go out and build a super-huge and incredibly ambitious machine to figure out if it really does exist. If the machine detects the Higgs, and it can be repeatedly detected, then it will be declared to exist, a Nobel prize will be handed out, and human knowledge will have grown. If the particle cannot be detected, then the scientists will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out where their models and/or experiment went wrong.

What does the religious believer do? If you look at the Atheist's Riddle (link above), or at Ray Comfort's model of the Universe requiring a creator in order to exist, you'll see that both of them claim that it is absolute proof of the existence of a god (and they both claim that it is therefore their god, which is extremely dishonest). Ray even goes as far as to say that it is "100% scientific proof".

Will the theists build a machine or conduct any kind of experiment to try to detect their god which theoretically exists? No. Even if they did, would they claim that said machine's failure to detect their god requires them to go back to the drawing board and fix their model? No. Will Ray Comfort ever learn the meaning of the word, 'scientific'? No.

And that, my friends, is the difference between the theoretical existence of things in science, and in religion. Upon theorising the existence of an object or entity with models or mathematics, the scientist will try to prove its existence through real experimentation, while the religious fool will just declare victory, because any experiment is bound to fail, as all have up until now.