Atheists often claim to not believe in God because they have no physical evidence of Him. The scientific method is the only proper way to personally demonstrate to an atheist the physical evidence for God's existence. The steps in the scientific method are as follows:
1. Define the question/formulate the problem
2. Gather information and resources
3. Form hypothesis
4. Perform experiment and collect data (observe)
5. Analyze data
6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis
This is how the steps are taken.
1. Define the question/formulate the problem:
Physical evidence confirming the existence of God has to date not been produced. Is there physical evidence confirming God's existence?
2. Gather information and resources:
This step is to help flesh out aspects of the research question to facilitate with the hypothesis formulation and experimentation. Specifically, we need to agree on what exactly we will be able to define as God so that we can know together whether we have indeed found physical evidence confirming God's existence.
The attributes used in this experiment to determine if God's existence has been detected are as follows:
There could only ever be a single unbounded self-existent being. There could not be many. An unbounded being would have unbounded attributes. There could not be more than one unbounded being because there would be no way to distinguish between them. One would not occupy a different space than the other. One would not occupy a different time than the other. Any attribute of one would be indistinguishable from the same attribute of the other and so it would be logically impossible to have more than one unbounded being.
An unbounded being by any other name would smell as sweet. Whether you call that unbounded being Thor, Yahweh, Quetzequatil, or otherwise, if they are unbounded they are indistinguishable no matter what you call them. There can be only one possible unbounded being. It is only if we define boundaries to a being that it can be distinguised from another bounded being but there can be only a single unbounded being if such a thing exists.
I believe the definition of physical evidence being, "that which is empirical, demonstrable, objectively verifiable, reproducible and able to stand up to the rigors of scientific testing and scrutiny," falls within the following definition of science:
"A natural science is a theoretical explanatory discipline that addresses natural phenomena within the general constraints that (1) its theories must be rationally connectible to generally specifiable empirical phenomena and that (2) it normally does not leave the natural realm for the concepts employed in its explanations."
Empirical science (direct evidence) is tested when the thing or event hypothesized is observed.
Theoretical science (indirect evidence) on the other hand is tested when the implications of the theory are observed.
The only difference between the two is that one can be observed directly and the other can only be observed indirectly through understanding its implications which "must be rationally connectible to generally specifiable empirical phenomena.
If we are to find evidence for the existence of God we need to recognize what type of scientific evidence we will be looking for. It is obvious that we will need theoretical or indirect evidence on par with the evidence for the expansion of the universe found in the redshift of galaxies. This is because if we accept the attributes that we will be looking for evidence confirming God's existence then the evidence we will be looking for must be indirect evidence as the attributes include an immaterial and boundless being.
Redshift evidence is indirect. This is because the expansion of space cannot empirically be observed with a telescope. According to relativity the universe is not expanding outward into preexisting space but the dimensions of space itself is expanding which is known as the metric expansion of space. Given this theoretical expansion of space itself, the theoretical implication is that this expansion would stretch photons of light traveling through this expanding space creating a cosmological redshift in the light. This is indeed what we observe so that light from distant galaxies is redshifted proportional to its distance. This is known as Hubble's law. Thus, cosmological redshift is indirect and not direct evidence.
My goal is to produce theoretical evidence for the existence of God on par with cosmological redshift. It's important that we distinguish between the two types of scientific evidence so that we can distinguish the type of evidence we will be looking for.
The final consideration for step two is to answer the question as to where will we find the organism (God) we want to observe evidence for? Given my list of attributes, a self-existent, boundless, immaterial, and personal being should have detectable evidence for observation literally everywhere, whether in space, the sky, the ocean, deep inside the earth, and in your very room. I would suggest that since resources, time, equipment, and money are limited that we attempt to find observable scientific evidence for God wherever you are so that you have direct access to it.
3. Form hypothesis:
A good hypothesis must be directional and testable, establishing defined and measurable variables which can be observed in experimentation. I believe we have all the elements we need at this point.
"A self-existent, immaterial, personal being, unbounded by space, time, or laws of nature is detectable by the five senses at every point in space but specifically in the object about to be examined."
To specify this hypothesis further, you will need to choose an object for scientific examination. It can be as personal as you want or even ironic like a book on atheism. It's important that you choose wisely because this evidence will be the first scientific evidence that will reveal God's existence. It will be a personal heirloom for the atheist. One atheist I spoke to used a frisbee.
4. Collect data:
This step is done by the atheist.
"It's a yellow disc about 7 inches across. It has a tournament logo on the top, and scratches on the surface. Weight is about 170 grams."
5. Analyze data:
Measurements in length and weight display elements of sight and touch. Observation of logo and scratches display elements of sight. Data collection of scientific evidence display the usage of two senses and nothing other than sensory data.
6. Interpret data and draw conclusions:
Empiricists viewed the mind as passive when confronting the world and that it simply records the impressions provided by the senses. This view holds knowledge as conforming to objects outside the mind. Kant had an insight about epistemology upon reflecting on the vast changes in society's perception of the universe after the Newtonian and Copernican revolution overthrew the geocentric and Aristotelian physics of the Middle Ages. His insight was that objects conform to our knowledge and not the other way around. In order to make sense out of the innumerable fluctuating and fragmented assortment of data provided to our mind by our senses, the mind has to impose a rational structure on it which we experience as objects. Facts are the product of a thinking mind encountering external evidence, and they therefore contain both that evidence and the mental framework by means of which it has been apprehended, and through which it is articulated. The world that science studies is a world that has been actively filtered, digested, shaped, and organized according to the minds' own structure. The objects of the world are therefore constructed by the mind out of the raw data provided by the senses.
To Kant, the only world we can know is the world of our experience which is constructed and given meaning by the mind. This world consists of things as they appear to us which he referred to as phenomena. Kant held that we simply can’t get around phenomena, because our ways of knowing are dependent upon them. We cannot get a view of the world that is from nowhere, as every view is from somewhere and that “somewhere” determines how the world is seen. Outside of our experience are the things in themselves which he termed the noumena. Because we can't jump outside our experience to see reality as it actually is, we cannot assign any positive content to the noumena.
Kant viewed space and time as part of the phenomena organized by our mind onto sense data. The only way you could know that objects in the external world are literally in space would be to jump outside your experience to experience reality in itself. Because of this it is meaningless to talk about space apart from the spatial perspective found within experience which is given meaning by mind. Time is also a construct of the mind. It is a framework within which objects are presented to us. If a bell sounds three times in a row but my mind did not store my sense experiences of them in temporal form in memory then I would not experience three strikes of a bell but a single bell unrelated to other sensory experiences. It is the mind that relates them together within a temporal sequence and synthesizes them as three successive experiences of the same thing. We can not know the noumena of whether there is actual space or time.
Berkeley denied the existence of noumena as physically existing apart from the mind because only mental experiences are knowable and so reality is completely dependent on the minds of those perceiving it. There can be no such thing as matter without a mind because qualities associated with matter, such as shape, color, smell, texture, weight, temperature, and sound are all dependent on minds. Nietzsche found fault in the noumenon's lack of definite properties. Nietzsche and later philosophers argued that the noumenon is of an utterly indeterminate nature and that any discussion that does not treat it as such cannot, in fact, be a discussion of the noumenon. In demonstrating any definite properties, the noumenon would cease to be so. Sartre argues that the appearance of a phenomenon is pure and absolute. The noumenon is not inaccessible—it simply isn’t there. Appearance is the only reality.
So the question is, can we justify the existence of a world outside of our perception. Can we justify that our perception of a world is a perception of something that is not dependent on mind for its existence? Can we justify that the innumerable fluctuating and fragmented assortment of data provided to our mind by our senses comes from something other than mind? Let's use Descartes example of sensory experience within a dream. Can we distinguish a fundamental difference between the sensory experience provided to our mind from our dreams and the sensory experience provided to our minds when we are not dreaming? Certainly the dream world is one that is not as stable concerning the laws of physics at times but we can account for that by recognizing that our dreams are produced by our own finite minds. We recognize the existence of minds other than our own who experience shared experiences when we're not dreaming... but we also believe that we experience minds other than our own who share experiences with us when we're dreaming. It is usually only when we wake that we realize that the other minds were no more real than the physical world we sensed in our dreams.
So what can we be sure of if we can't be sure of the data provided to our minds by our senses? Any type of assertion always assumes existence. What can we know about the assumption of existence? We know that the assumption of existence assumes the attribute or essence of existence. When we state that the world is real we're stating that the world has the attribute of existence. When we experience the attribute of the world's existence we experience the phenomena of that attribute or essence. The assumption of the attribute of existence therefore also assumes the existence of attributes as well. As all things that exist must have the attribute of existence then all existent things are attributes but not all attributes are existent (unicorns). I like to term the assumption of attributes as the assumption of Logos because not everyone likes using the term attribute itself and prefer using the term essence or appearance or phenomena. Logos makes sense because the ancient Greeks used the term to mean the implicit reason ordering form and meaning of all essences in the cosmos; a universal principle through which all things are interrelated. While the Greeks viewed the Logos as existing in the world independent of mind, Kant recognized this reason ordering the world and interrelating all things as the mind itself. The Greeks also used the word Logos for logic, word, and language. Generally, when we assert anything and we assume existence we also assume the attribute of language so by Logos I mean the source or all attributes, essences, principles, logic, reason, rationality, communication, language, and temporal mind. By assuming Logos we in turn assume the existence of mind because as we said earlier, Logos comes from mind and not outside it. Mind applies Logos to existent reality. What I mean by mind is actually the assumption of an attributeless source of Logos. This is not the finite temporal mind that we give these attributes to designate our minds because the attributes of finite and temporal come from the Logos which comes from mind and not outside it. This mind then I mean to be the existence that precedes the attribute of existence. So the assertion of anything assumes the existence of the attribute existence, the existence of attributes (or Logos), and the existence of mind preceding Logos and the attribute existence. Existence precedes essence.
Calling this predicate of existence "Mind" stretches the ability of language. Language is a descriptive tool we use to communicate the attributes our mind gives to objects. What can you attribute to an attributeless source of attributes? To name this source "Mind" or even "source" is to assume an attribute to that which attributes "proceed" "from." If Mind is not an attribute, what is it? In a word, it is a word. What exactly is a word? To define word I am forced to use other words and so language at this level becomes axiomatic. If we must assume words to understand words we beg the question of which came first, the language or the object?
The question then becomes, "what can we know about this existence?" If we only give existential consent to that which we can justify then this mind that precedes the essence of existence is boundless. The boundaries of space, time, and matter all rely on the assumptions of uniformity of nature, cause and effect, and induction which are all unjustifiably circular in reasoning. How do we know nature is uniform? Because my experiences have consistently been that nature is uniform and so because I believe that the future will be uniform with the past nature must be uniform. The assumption of the uniformity of nature in the past and future cannot be used to justify the assumption of the uniformity of nature. The same goes for cause and effect. I believe the assumption of cause and effect are justified because I've always experienced effects having causes and because I assume a causal connection between the past, present, and future. This is reasoning in a circle. This type of reasoning is called inductive reasoning because it takes past experiences to conclude future results. How is induction justified? By experience. Experience of course assumes induction and so to avoid a viscous circle one must assume an inductive principle of a higher order and to justify this higher order inductive principle there must be an assumption of an inductive principle of an even higher order leading to an infinite regress. This existence of mind then is not justifiably bounded by space, time, or matter.
What we have found in the interpretation of the generally specifiable empirical phenomena we observe in the sense data from the Frisbee is this Mind with a capital M, which is distinct from the finite and bounded mind we are using right now to read about this scientific evidence. This Mind has been demonstrated to be (a) self-existent, (b) boundless, (c) immaterial, and (d) personal. Our senses are therefore seen to produce scientific evidence for the detectable existence of God.