In the past I have referred to God as a ‘hypothesis’, however upon giving this some more thought lately I’ve realized that perhaps I was being a bit generous in my classification. A hypothesis (plural ‘hypotheses’) is;
- A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation
- A proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth
A hypothesis in its simplest from is constructed as an ‘if…. then….’ statement. For example “if playing guitar increases the risk of arthritis then there would be a high amount of arthritis patients who play(ed) guitar”. The important thing is that a hypothesis, to have any scientific worth, needs to be falsifiable. As Karl Popper once said:
“In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality. “
The example I used about guitar playing and arthritis is falsifiable because you could look at the statistics and realise that there is no correlation between guitar playing and arthritis – the hypothesis would be falsified and you would have to go back to the drawing board. It is also verifiable in as much as you could find a correlation between arthritis and guitar playing – although you could never prove this absolutely (but, I don’t have time to go into the whole philosophy of it) – you could make a convincing case if 98% of all guitar players went on to develop arthritis.
Now when it comes to formulating a hypothesis that involves God, we encounter problems, the first is what would come after the ‘then…’, ‘if God exists then…’ then what?
Whenever a falsifiable hypothesis about God’s existence has been made in the past they have been conclusively falsified. For example the hypothesis “If God exists then we would expect to find evidence of design in nature” has been well and truly falsified by advances in evolutionary theory, and “If God exists then we would expect to find that intercessory prayer works” – again this has been conclusively falsified .
The only “hypotheses” that are left around the concept of God are unverifiable, unfalsifiable concepts. If there is no experiment or amount of research you could do to verify these concepts of God then they are not worthy of the title of hypotheses. As it stands God is no better a hypothesis than; ‘If gravity is caused by invisible unicorns then there would be no observable difference in reality’. God is not a hypothesis – it’s conjecture at best.