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My question is inspired by an insightful chat discussion on this answer to the question How do Christians rebut Matt Dillahunty's objection that the resurrection of Jesus is untestable, unfalsifiable and thus unreasonable to believe?

A skeptic and scientifically minded user commented here:

"Do you believe in protons/the big bang" - I wouldn't say "I believe in" those things, but I believe that those are the best/most likely explanations given the evidence we have available. If someone were to present a better explanation for the evidence, or we get evidence that contradicts those theories, I would not hesitate for a moment for change my belief. The same goes for the scientific method as a whole (although the amount of evidence required to reason against it would be staggering, given how much evidence we have that it works). I don't believe God is "the best explanation given the evidence we have available", but you presumably disagree with that. What evidence would convince you that God isn't real? What would make you change your belief?

Applying science isn't about "using knowledge from one discipline to destroy knowledge from another discipline", it's purely about discovering truth (within the best of ability to know what's true). If you want to reject some truth because it contradicts "knowledge from another discipline", then you'd have a rather significant burden of proof to demonstrate that the method for discovering truth in that other discipline is more reliable than the method of discovering truth in science.

To do this, I would expect one to compare how often claims are verified to be true, and how often they're verified to be false, and whether the method has any means for discovering and correcting flaws within itself (which the religious often reject because the Bible is the word of God, and thus has no flaws, which is a whole other discussion). But then we probably get back to the issue of verificationism and the idea of sufficient evidence.

(Also, given that you reject verificationism, do you have a better suggestion for evaluating the truth of some claim? You say personal experience is a good measure of truth, as in your personal experience with God is strong evidence for you that God exists - I hope I'm representing/understanding that accurately/correctly, but, as I noted before, people believe in Allah and aliens and so forth due to personal experiences that are indistinguishable from yours from an outsider's perspective. You may or may not see them as rational, but you presumably don't consider what they believe to be true. And they, following the exact same reasoning, similarly don't consider what you believe to be true. And someone who doesn't consider personal experience to be strong evidence considers what neither of you believe to be true... or close enough to that. From my perspective, this presents a rather significant problem for you in terms of knowing whether what you believe is actually true.)

We kind of go around in circles: you say you believe based on your personal/spiritual/internal experiences, I say this isn't a reliable means of discovering truth and present an argument for that and a process for evaluating what a reliable means would look like (verificationism or the idea of sufficient evidence), you reject this means because it can't apply to your belief that's based on your personal experiences, I say personal experiences aren't reliable means of discovering truth, etc.

"it's reasonable to consider the scientific method to be the only reliable way I am familiar with to discover the truth" - I largely agree with this representation of what I believe/should believe based on my argument. But I would also question the reliability or repeatability of any other method that anyone else uses to discover truth (just because you can reliably and repeatably experience something doesn't say anything about whether the thing you're experiencing is a reliable method of discovering truth).

[...]
Regarding the method as far as non-believers are concerned, another problem would be that a non-believer would have no real reason to actually attempt to verify the existence of God for the same reason they won't attempt to verify that Allah or aliens exist (they don't believe that any of them exist, and each of us individually testing the truth of every claim that hasn't been sufficiently demonstrated, even if we just limit it to ones that greatly affect our lives as a whole, is an unreasonable expectation).

Some attempt to get around this problem by claiming that we all have some desire to seek out God deep down, which sounds an awful lot like a rationalisation to avoid the problem to me, but I suppose it's fairly consistent with the Christian worldview.

Unless of course this method is just intended for believers to strengthen their faith.

I could go on quoting many other excerpts from the contribution of this user to a fascinating back-and-forth philosophical discussion on epistemology (how do we know what is true) and God. For this user, as many others, having a reliable method for figuring out what is (most likely) the truth is of paramount importance. For scientifically minded individuals, the scientific method, which is based on experimentation, repeatability and testing of competing hypotheses, has proven to be quite successful in many areas, such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, etc. However, when it comes to claims about the supernatural, skeptics sympathetic with the scientific method usually struggle.

Question: Are these arguments sound? Do any Christian groups or denominations teach reliable methods for scientifically minded individuals to seek and find God? What should a scientifically minded individual do in order to successfully seek and find God according to these groups or denominations?


Appendix - other quotes

A test (to manifest a spiritual experience or for anything else) is flawed if the reproduction steps are poorly defined, hard/impossible to know and demonstrate that you've done correctly, open to interpretation and/or otherwise problematic (all of which are the case here). As far as I know, most spiritual tests don't specify how long you need to keep trying for, and the prevailing view is that you just need to keep trying. That would be like saying "if you just keep pressing this button, you'll eventually feel something noteworthy". If you've pressed it 1000000 times and nothing has happened yet, then one can say you still didn't keep pressing it for long enough. And if you do feel something noteworthy, that might just be your finger cramping or a result of the exhaustion of pressing the button non-stop. It has nothing to do with what the button itself actually does.

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    Answers In Genesis is a Christian group who combine science with Christianity (specifically creationism and the flood). They present some great information on this topic.
    – Adam
    Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 21:23

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The "proof" of God's existence is that anything exists at all. I understand that there are many refutations of the ontological argument and that this will not satisfy the purely scientific mind but it stands as the given reason that all people are without excuse regarding God's existence and power:

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: - Romans 1:19-20

For a purely natural person to flail about within the realm of the purely natural, using purely natural means, attempting to testably and repeatably prove or disprove that which is completely other than natural is an exercise in futility:

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; - Acts 17:24-25

If God exists as the supernatural creator of everything natural then He cannot be proven or disproven through solely natural means if the existence of the natural is discounted as proof at the outset. But He can be found

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:13

because He has manifested within the natural world:

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? - John 14:7-9

and, having been found, He can be proven:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:1-2

The Spirit of God enters and resides within the one who (believes and) confesses that Jesus is the Son of God:

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. - 1 John 4:15

This indwelling Spirit then begins to unveil spiritual principles by which one is to live in this world and striving to live according to those principles by faith is where God demonstrates His Fatherhood...His faithfulness to bless and to correct, to strengthen and to chastise:

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. - 1 Corinthians 2:6-14

First we believe and then we acquire proof. It is this way because our natural starting point and our natural tendency is rejection of the proof that we already have.

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    If God exists, then I may largely agree with what you've written (except about the futility of using natural means to prove that naturalistic events beyond our understanding happen as a result of something we'd be justified in attributing to the supernatural). But if one is directly trying to rationally answer the question of whether God exists, or one believes he doesn't exist, then I'm not sure I'd agree with even a single sentence you've written. It starts from assuming God exists and finding evidence to support that, rather than providing a rational means to conclude that God exists.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 17:57
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    @NotThatGuy I agree with you completely. Christians approach this from one direction (looking at Jesus and learn about God from Jesus) while Skeptics approach this from the opposite direction (science -> cosmology -> natural theology -> Christianity). That opposite direction starts with minimal assumptions, but will necessarily reach a threshold where revelation is needed. The 2 opposite directions is discussed in this PBS Closer to Truth episode Jesus as God - A Philosophical Inquiry, at minute 22:20 vs. 23:20. Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 18:22
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    @NotThatGuy He does exist so you may feel free to agree :) Seriously though, the book of Hebrews insists that this "assumption" of God's existence is the realistic and necessary starting point: "he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." - Hebrews 11:6b. It doesn't take much...just a mustard seed's worth of "assumption" and a willingness to have one's worldview completely renovated. Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 20:53
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I wouldn't say "I believe in" [e.g. the "big bang"], but I believe that those are the best/most likely explanations given the evidence we have available. If someone were to present a better explanation for the evidence, or we get evidence that contradicts those theories, I would not hesitate for a moment for change my belief.

Genesis 1-9 is an amazing explanation for the state of the world we see today. It is such an amazing explanation, in fact, that one must reject it a priori in order to seriously entertain any alternative explanations. (More particularly, one must adhere to Materialism / Naturalism — that is, the philosophical¹ axiom that there is no God — in order to seriously entertain materialist explanations.)

Many, many books, videos, debates and lectures have covered these topics... including the Bible itself; n.b. Romans 1:20. More, the Bible warns us what happens, intellectually, to unbelievers; see 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 and 2 Peter 3:3-6. Those to whom wisdom has been given, take heed; these passages are describing exactly the attitudes of modern Materialists.

The evidence of the historicity of Genesis is overwhelming and some of it is even omnipresent (n.b. Romans 1:20 again). I would contend that, if you don't believe it, your problem is not lack of evidence, but rather a deliberate rejection of God. So long as that is your attitude, you will not merely hesitate, but refuse to change your belief, no matter what evidence is presented to you.

(¹ Note also that the only difference between a "philosophy" and a "religion" is the implication that the latter entails belief in (a) supernatural power(s).)

I would expect one to compare how often claims are verified to be true, and how often they're verified to be false, and whether the method has any means for discovering and correcting flaws within itself

While I acknowledge the Materialist objection to the inerrant Word of God on the basis of its inerrancy, I would also suggest that said objection lacks a rational basis. In any case, consider how many times Materialists have changed their story, or committed outright fraud, and compare that to the number of times God's Word (as revealed in the Bible) has been wrong. Do you really prefer Man's fallible reasoning over God's perfect track record?

Also, given that you reject verificationism, do you have a better suggestion for evaluating the truth of some claim?

The problem with verificationism is that it is vacuous. There is no Materialist basis for truth. Stop and think about that. There is no grounds within a Materialist worldview to assert that something is actually true, and not just a figment of random chemical processes resulting in an unsubstantiated belief (whatever that even is in a Materialist world).

In order to have science, one must presume:

  • There is such a thing as truth and not-truth.
  • Our senses are reliable.
  • Our reason is (somewhat) reliable.
  • The universe behaves in a consistent manner.

The middle two in particular do not and cannot follow from a Materialist worldview, and I probably don't need to tell you how much the first is under attack these days. (Most pagan religions fall flat on at least the last point.) The reason verificationism fails is because it relies on these assumptions but cannot provide any basis for them.

Rather, all four are points of Christian philosophy. Is it any wonder that Christians are responsible for the scientific method, which is the basis of all (modern, experimental) science?

The best way to search for truth is as the original scientists; by examining the evidence in subservience to God's Word. Many gains have been made by asking how God's Creation works. The problem with verificationism is not in striving to explain what we see, but in rejecting the foundation of science.

Do any Christian groups or denominations teach reliable methods for scientifically minded individuals to seek and find God?

Absolutely! I can't really speak for denominations, as a) my experience in that respect (as of most Christians, I would expect) is limited, and b) it can vary from church to church even within a denomination. (That said, more conservative Christians are likely to be a better bet.) As for groups, however... Answers in Genesis is invaluable, but Creation Ministries, International and the Institute for Creation Research should not be discounted.

Ultimately, however, the only was to "seek and find God" is... to do that. Read the Bible. Attend church services (again, I'd recommend conservatives rather than charismatics). Pray. Hang out with other Christians, e.g. by participating here 🙂. The critical contribution of the aforementioned groups and/or resources put out by the same is equipping you with the tools to break through the Materialist lies that God and science "aren't compatible". (Nothing could be further from the truth!)

What should a scientifically minded individual do in order to successfully seek and find God according to these groups or denominations?

You must be open to God. If you are, He will be obvious (again, Romans 1:20). If you are not, you will not find Him, no matter how hard you look (again, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11). Once you've gotten past "I will allow God to exist", there is incredibly ample evidence that His Word is trustworthy; see above.

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  • Christians are responsible for the entire field of science” Really? I wonder why sciences such as chemistry, astronomy, and algebra use so many Arabic (Islamic) words? Or how the Greek mathematicians managed what they did long before Jesus came along. And that's only around the Mediterranean, ignoring contributions from scientists in places like India and China. Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 3:45
  • @RayButterworth, ah, yes, I should have said "the scientific method". (That said, mathematics are not science. Also, to be fair, the basis of science is a) discernible Truth, and b) a Creation which operates in a consistent manner. Muslims and Christians both inherit those from the Jewish Yahweh. That they either add or subtract from Christianity doesn't change that they're ultimately getting that from the same place. The point is rather that neither pagans nor materialists possess this basis.)
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 16:10
  • I can't speak to the origin of language in chemistry, except to remind you that chemistry derived from alchemy and was largely created by Europeans. As for astronomy, we tend to carry forward terms for a long time. Certainly, ancient people had a name for the sun (and stars, and planets), even if they grossly misunderstood its nature. If that name carries forward, that doesn't imply that those who bestowed the name had correct knowledge of the thing.
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 16:18
  • Timeline of the history of the scientific method lists many pre-Christianity examples. Aristotle is known as "the founder of formal logic" and "the father of the scientific method". Centuries before Jesus, the Greeks calculated the diameters of the Sun and Moon and the distance therebetween. Commented Mar 11, 2022 at 16:35
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    @RayButterworth You're getting into a debate about when science began, here. Modern science, which had distinct conceptual innovations and is really what we tend to think about when talking about science, really got going ~16C. Almost all early modern scientists were Christians, many devout as far as we can tell. It's only well after modern science gets going that it comes to be associated with atheism. Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 6:33
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I'll offer a response to this question from 2 perspectives:

  • Theological perspective as a Latter-day Saint (see here)
  • Epistemological perspective as a participant in the debate referenced in the OP (this answer)

Epistemological Perspective

As the careful reader will notice, my focus in the discussion referenced by the OP was not to prove the existence of God. When asked, I specifically suggested those who desire to know follow a process I have used--to find out for themselves. Based upon those processes (outlined in my other answer to this question), I believe the answer to the OP's question Do any Christian groups or denominations teach reliable methods for scientifically minded individuals to seek and find God? would be yes.

Don't get me wrong, I think teleological and moral arguments are fascinating & weighty, but although there were a few tangential detours, my focus in the discussion was on epistemology. The discussion was catalyzed by my demonstration that verificationism is self-refuting.

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Experiential Evidence

I pointed out that all evidence of any form rests upon a foundation of experiential evidence. Whether that evidence came from an equation, a machine, or human senses, take it back a few steps and you’ll end up with a human mind. A human mind developed the mathematical axioms and the machine, and a human mind interpreted information presented by the senses.

We cannot get around experiential evidence. Those who suggest it be excluded from consideration discard their own worldviews along with those of their opponents. Even the claim that something should be trusted because it is reliable is an appeal to experiential evidence.

Though my disputant downplayed the value of experiential evidence and critiqued tools that are not entirely objective, when pressed about his own views he appealed consistently to experiential evidence, and outlined subjective criteria for adjudicating reliability.

This illustrates what I believe to be the single greatest shortcoming in skeptical thought: inconsistency. One can apply a standard of tremendous skepticism to others' views and thereby assert intellectual superiority...but this façade comes crashing down when the same level of skepticism is turned on itself. If faith is belief sufficient to act, everyone has faith because everyone believes some things sufficiently to act on them.

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Using reliable methods

My disputant, while at least partially acknowledging the accuracy of my position on experiential evidence, suggested that science & the 5 senses are to be preferred because they have proven reliable, whereas other methods have not.

Track record

We don't know anything about the track record of any method without appealing to experiential evidence...so claiming that something is reliable/helpful is a direct appeal to experiential evidence.

Proven

We both acknowledged in the debate that science doesn't prove things--in fact, at no point did my disputant offer a clear statement on how anything could be proven by any means. So the claim that something has proven reliable is contradictory to his position.

Reliable

What does it mean for a method to be reliable? The 5 senses get fooled all the time (the discipline of illusion is specifically dedicated to that fact). Science gets the wrong answer all the time. Every time a headline says "new discovery rewrites xyz", it's a polite way of saying "old theory got it wrong".

That's not a bad thing--scientific inquiry is always discovering more, and there's always the possibility that some future discovery will overturn the conclusions of the past, giving us greater understanding of the universe. Science isn't discovering absolute truth so much as it's getting ever-closer to it (and even if science did discover absolute truth you'd have no way of knowing that it had).

My point is not to criticize science for errors but to applaud it for finding those errors (while acknowledging the need for more scientific inquiry because there are probably still more errors to be found). Given remarkably confident pronouncements by the leaders in science in the past that turned out to be wrong, I would not say scientific results are reliable so much as they are improving.

Just one historical example - one of the scientific reasons many rejected heliocentricity in favor of geocentricity is that stellar parallax had never been observed. This was a serious objection to people like Copernicus & Galileo, because stellar parallax was essentially demanded by their theories. It turns out stellar parallax is a real thing and it has been observed in more recent years--they just didn't have instruments sensitive enough to pick it up in the 17th century.

So, in the case of stellar parallax, science was useful not because it was reliable but because it was persistent.

But should we use a method that is sometimes unreliable in order to learn? Absolutely! Let's consider one of the most prominent examples.

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Language

Language is a helpful counter-example to my disputant's argument because it is not only one of our fundamental means of discovering truth (through crystalizing our own discoveries or coming to understand those of others), but it is specifically reliant upon the senses.

Language comes through hearing, sight (e.g. reading, sign language), and touch (e.g. brail). It has been argued many times that written language is humanity's most brilliant invention--it allows the mass-distribution and exchange of ideas. We would go nowhere in science without it. But should we really put confidence in language? Is language reliable?

I suggest it is abundantly self-evident that language is not always reliable. Misunderstandings occur in spoken language, reading, sign language, and brail, meaning a powerful method for discovering truth--transmitted through our senses--runs into errors all the time.

Stack Exchange has a whole site (Biblical Hermeneutics) dedicated to trying to figure out what certain words in certain contexts mean! People ask "what did you say?" or "say again?" all the time. Plays on words are funny because language isn't black-and-white. And don't even get me started on all the twists & turns of learning a foreign language!

Language is a powerful tool for learning almost anything, it is essential to the progress of science, it is exceptionally thoroughly studied, it is conveyed through the physical senses, and yet examples of its unreliability are almost endless.

Apparently we can use tools that are not always reliable, combined with reason, to great epistemological effect.

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Responses to other arguments

To Believe

My disputant suggested that he doesn't so much "believe" certain things are true as he finds them to be the best explanation given the evidence we have available. I respectfully suggest this is what the word "believe" means. We could certainly argue about what threshold different people employ to consider something believable, but I submit that "believe" is indeed the right word to describe "thinking something is the best explanation". The verbs believe & know are not synonyms for this very reason--they convey different levels of certainty.

using knowledge from one discipline to destroy knowledge from another discipline

This was a quote from my video here, which would make a little more sense if presented in context: I was explaining why some people are (unfortunately, in my view) wary of science--they've seen it used as a weapon for moral, philosophical, political, and personal attacks. I believe this is a poor use of science--I gather that my disputant probably feels the same way.

compare how often claims are verified to be true, and how often they're verified to be false, and whether the method has any means for discovering and correcting flaws within itself

This does indeed collapse back into verificationism. Earlier in the discussion we both agreed that science does not "prove" things.

As for a self-correcting process, any system which is closed to new information limits its ability to correct itself. Any system that decides to exclude a set of explanations before even looking at the data has self-imposed restrictions on its utility (this is one reason why I find reading the Bible with the pre-conception that there's no such thing as the supernatural to be a rather pointless exercise).

Those of my faith believe in ongoing revelation and that God speaks as authoritatively today as He did in the past. Thus, if people have misunderstood messages from the past (look at the doctrinal corrections given in the NT epistles--misunderstanding happens a lot), ongoing data from the source does allow for correction, clarification, and elaboration.

Claims of inerrancy for something that came through imperfect, human intermediaries, are not part of the argument I have made.

another problem would be that a non-believer would have no real reason to actually attempt to verify the existence of God for the same reason they won't attempt to verify that Allah or aliens exist

There have in fact been billions of dollars spent trying to determine if aliens/extra-terrestrial life forms exist.

I cannot say I have ever been given a particularly compelling reason to seek out revelation regarding Allah, nor am I familiar with a Muslim practice of challenging people to find out for themselves through direct, personal revelation (I'm happy to be further educated if this is in fact a practice employed by those of the Muslim faith).

Why should anyone take the time to test what I believe? I offer a method & a reason why it's worth the experiment here.

personal experiences that are indistinguishable from yours from an outsider's perspective

That is why I conclude the video in the previous link by telling people not to take my word for it, but to obtain an insider's perspective themselves.

We kind of go around in circles:...[experiential evidence, reliability, sufficient evidence, etc]...you reject this means because it can't apply to your belief that's based on your personal experiences, I say personal experiences aren't reliable means of discovering truth, etc.

Yes and no. Yes, the discussion did go around in circles a few times. But no, I showed that the method my disputant appealed to was based on experiential evidence and was being evaluated using subjective criteria - since these were the bases for his critique of my method, his critique is likewise applicable to his own method.

Anything either of us believe is going to be founded upon experiential evidence that has gone through the subjective interpretation of a human mind, so these criteria alone are insufficient grounds to reject a process as a plausible means of exploring reality.

Pushing a button 1000000 times

Edison made numerous attempts to construct a commercially viable light bulb before he succeeded. His failed attempts did not show it was impossible to make a light bulb, it showed that that specific approach was not a way to make a light bulb. So he varied his approach. If he had never succeeded he might have been reasonable to believe it could not be done, but he would not have proven the negative it can't be done.

For those who find the light bulb a poor comparison, I'll offer 2 thoughts:

  1. I suggest most world-changing discoveries involve processes more complex than "pushing a button", which in any event is far too simplistic a comparison to any process I've outlined in my arguments
  2. Perhaps an analogy more accessible to a modern audience would be debugging computer code. If one person ran an algorithm and it worked, and another person ran a similar algorithm and it crashed, I'd go into debugging mode long before re-running the same code a million times to see if I could get a different result. I'd want to see what is different in the sets of code, not just keep "pushing a button".

Hypotheticals

Several hypothetical questions were asked. I'm making an argument from experiential evidence; a hypothetical is by definition something for which I have 0 experiential evidence, therefore the appropriate, epistemologically-grounded response to these hypotheticals is: "I cannot offer a conclusion because I have no data upon which to do so".

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The power of reasoning in the absolute

One of the strengths and weaknesses of experiential evidence is that one individual's experience is not directly accessible to other individuals. If someone else appeals to experiential evidence I may not know if the claim is true or false; this is one reason why aggregators like language and scientific inquiry are so powerful. Language allows people to convey their experiences using mutually understood symbols (like words). Scientific inquiry calls for outlining a process that can be repeated, allowing others to learn--through the experience of testing--what someone else has already learned.

I am not the least bit bothered by the possibility that someone may claim an experience that wasn't real, or may interpret an experience incorrectly--just like I'm not bothered by the possibility that language is sometimes misinterpreted or that good scientific practice sometimes leads to erroneous conclusions that are later overturned. But if the reliability of anything flowing through experiential evidence is subject to error, how can we be sure of anything?

2nd best method: Induction. If something is repeatable, with successive iterations we can raise our level of confidence.

Best method: Reasoning in the absolute. One who can reason in the absolute can rule out all competing possibilities (we fallible mortals cannot do this). If there is an Omniscient & Omnipotent Being who can reason in the absolute, information learned from Him would be epistemologically superior to anything learned from sources that cannot reason in the absolute. The claim that I have learned something by revelation from God would be the most secure statement epistemologically possible for a non-omniscient being (such as myself) to make. Truths learned in this manner then serve as the axioms from which all else is derived.

A claim that is one step removed from Someone who can reason in the absolute is epistemologically inferior--that is, between:

  1. Abraham says he met with God
  2. God says He met with Abraham

Both statements may describe the same incident, but claim 2 is epistemologically superior.

For the same reason, any epistemological claims made by other people--supporting or opposing the existence of God--will never be so powerful as obtaining that answer directly from the source. A Being that has all power would necessarily be able to make Himself known unmistakably.

Some suggest that second-hand reports of revelation from God, or other people's experiences encountering God are not persuasive evidence of God's existence. Of course not! Though man may devise many supporting arguments for God's existence (flying buttresses to a belief in God, if you will), giving unmistakable demonstrations of God's existence (the foundation) is the business of God, not of man. I claim that He has done so, and I make that claim on a first-hand basis.

(Although that claim is second-hand to those reading this post, it is first-hand to the writer, thus the writer has more compelling reason to accept the claim than the reader does)

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Conclusion

No scientifically-minded individual can escape the powerful & foundational role of experiential evidence. The value of science is not demonstrated by science, it is demonstrated by our experience using science.

Do any Christian groups or denominations teach reliable methods for scientifically minded individuals to seek and find God? Yes, but:

  • We need to be careful about what is meant by "reliable". Perhaps we could avoid confusion by saying they teach effective methods
  • They need not commit the errors of verificationism, rejecting the beliefs of others for failing to meet a standard that one's own beliefs cannot meet
  • They need not reject experiential evidence

I hold the beliefs I do because I have tested them through methods such as these.

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  • Re Track Record/Proven/Reliable: We can't conclusively prove anything, nor avoid appealing to experiential evidence, but we can appeal to experiential evidence in many different ways. If I see something, I can ask someone else whether they saw it too, I can take a picture and look at it again later, and show it to others, I can research the thing I saw and see how well that fits into our model of reality, I can research whether people have seen similar things which turned out to not be what they saw, or it contradicts what I saw. All of that gives us a "proven" track record of reliability.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 19:17
  • Edison failing to construct a commercially viable light bulb numerous times before succeeding doesn't really rebut my "pushing a button 1000000 times" analogy for reliable tests. Edison didn't follow a reliable process for constructing a light bulb, he was experimenting (which is something unreliable). My point was that if you just say "keep trying" indefinitely, that by its very nature makes the test unreliable. As does the possibility of other explanations, especially ones that can be caused by the thing you're doing in a way that's entirely unrelated to the thing you're trying to prove.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 19:30
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To answer the title question, “Do any Christian groups or denominations teach reliable methods for scientifically minded individuals to seek and find God?”, here are a couple of examples of (but by no means all) churches that encourage their members to use rational logic and research rather than emotions or hear-say.

The United Church of God for instance publishes such things as:

The first item encourages people to study their beliefs scientifically, rather than blindly accepting what the church says or relying on feel-good emotionalism:


That is the danger of accepting the Church teachings blindly rather than following 1 Thessalonians 5:21. To the congregation in Corinth Paul wrote: "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough" (2 Corinthians 11:3–4, NIV).

The Corinthians exhibited the all-too-human tendency to be taken in by a good sounding argument without spending the time and effort to examine it carefully in the light of Scripture. The same thing happened later on in the congregations of the region of Galatia (Galatians 1:6; 3:1). If it could happen to them — it could happen to us!

The benefits to each of us of examining, studying and proving our beliefs are tremendous. Our faith is strengthened as we become more confident in what we believe. We will not be as easily swayed by a new idea or passing fancy of doctrine that comes our way, because we will not only know what we believe, but, just as importantly, we will know why we believe it — and we can go back and prove it again if need be. … when we are questioned about our beliefs: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15, NIV).

Paul told the brethren in Thessalonica to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good." It was sage advice for the early Church, and it is needful for the Church of God in these end times as much or more than ever.

The Philadelphia Church of God sponsors archaeological projects in Israel, which over the last few decades have found much evidence that supports the Biblical record of history. E.g.:

These churches don't start with an existing set of doctrines and use the Bible to support them, they start with the simple belief that the Bible is true and self-consistent, and logically derive doctrines from the Bible. Along the way, they end up with enough evidence to justify their initial assumption about the Bible.

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Skepticism is important in the search for truth - religious or otherwise. However, the proper tools must be used in one’s investigations based upon the nature of the subject matter.

Mathematics is based upon proofs, for instance, not upon repeatable tests. Do we scorn science for not providing much more desirable proofs vs repeatable tests and an interpretation of the results?

Do we scorn those fields of science - like the theory of evolution - which are not testable/repeatable? (That things change is repeatable to be sure, but you can’t repeat the evolution of all life and demonstrate it as the source of all biodiversity; let alone demonstrate abiogenesis).

The nature of the thing being inquired into will offer different constraints for how to conduct the query. Science intentionally limits its scope of inquiry into natural phenomenon- generally repeatable phenomenon. The Scientific Method is the natural result of the limits of this search. It would be foolish to conclude that there is no truth outside of science or that is beyond our ability to inquire into them. Shall we dismiss all of human history because it’s not a natural, repeatable phenomenon?

It is thus entirely unreasonable to approach religion as science - for it generally falls outside of the purview of scientific investigation. Not to say religions never make a claim that might fall within the purview of science, but as a whole religions tend to be human-centric. They address moral questions, questions of purpose, questions of the here-after, questions of society and of the individual. They often have historical and cultural components.

Thus when investigating the merits of a religion, it is on the matters of history, morality, philosophy, culture, etc. that we must inquire - none of which lends itself to the Scientific Method well. To reject it for that reason is not logical or reasonable; you are merely misunderstanding the scope of science and limiting your own pursuit of truth accordingly.

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    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 7, 2022 at 13:51
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I'll offer a response to this question from 2 perspectives:

  • Theological perspective as a Latter-day Saint (this answer)
  • Epistemological perspective as a participant in the debate referenced in the OP (see here)

Theological perspective

Richard G. Scott, a man who was a nuclear engineer and an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave a sermon entitled Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions (video & printed versions available at the link; I highly recommend it).

I'll cite one passage in which he discussed processes of obtaining truth:

There are two ways to find truth—both useful, provided we follow the laws upon which they are predicated. The first is the scientific method. It can require analysis of data to confirm a theory or, alternatively, establish a valid principle through experimentation. The scientific method is a valuable way of seeking truth. However, it has two limitations. First, we never can be sure we have identified absolute truth, though we often draw nearer and nearer to it. Second, sometimes, no matter how earnestly we apply the method, we can get the wrong answer.

The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration. For success, two ingredients are essential: first, unwavering faith in the source of all truth; second, a willingness to keep God’s commandments to keep open spiritual communication with Him.

Not only does he not suggest that science and theology are opposed, he actively supports the use of both, while acknowledging some questions are more effectively served by one vs. the other. Scientifically-minded as he was, he also offered a method/process for obtaining truth through revelation.

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He has thrown down the gauntlet

  • Jesus invited people to test His words through action (see John 7:17)
  • Isaiah called for people to apply reason to better understand truth (see Isaiah 1:18)
  • Malachi challenged people to "prove" the Lord to see if the promised blessings would come (see Malachi 3:10)
  • Alma outlined an experiment upon the validity of the word of God, and detailed the process and predicted outcome (see Alma 32:28-43)
  • Moroni gave a promise of an answer from God and outlined the criteria needed to test the promise (see Moroni 10:4)
  • Lehi argued for God's existence using formal logic (see 2 Nephi 2:13)
  • Alma made a teleological argument for God's existence (see Alma 30:44, quoted below)

When Korihor sought to tear down people's faith in Christ Alma made 2 arguments:

The Teleological argument:

But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator (Alma 30:44).

The experiential argument (testimony):

For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come (Alma 30:39b--see a more extended discussion of how he knows in his sermon in Alma 5:45-47).

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Method

The above is just a sampling; many examples could be cited--holy writ is replete with passages calling upon people to utilize their cognitive faculties and put God's statements to the test. Perhaps the most famous example, in my faith, is Moroni's promise (referenced above) which explicitly challenges people to test a promise and outlines the process:

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)

The process at a minimum:

  • We need to "receive" these words (see also more details in verse 3, calling on people to read & ponder the message)
  • We need to ask God the Father in the name of Christ (i.e. prayer) a question

The criteria at a minimum:

  • Sincere heart - we really want to know; we appreciate (at least somewhat) the implications--what does it mean if this is true
  • Real intent - we will act on the information God gives us. This isn't just idle curiosity, this is intent to follow through
  • Faith in Christ - we have to trust Him enough to act. If we have read the book with an open mind, we are inviting that seed of faith to be planted and to begin to grow, so that by the time we get to this promise (it's in the last chapter of the book), our conviction that God can give an answer worth trusting is stronger than when we picked up the book

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Conclusion

As a scientifically minded individual I have tested the aforementioned promise of Moroni (and other scriptural promises), and I can recommend this experiment without reservation.

God challenges us to put His words to the test, He promises to follow through, and He makes good on His promises.

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