There was a lot of talk about “proof” in the news this month. The Ken Hamm/Bill Nye debate captured a lot of attention and raised questions about what science can prove about particular creation models, and even about what kinds of evidence are acceptable or reliable. There was an interesting story about a computer-generated math proof that required 13GB of reasoning, far too much for human beings to parse through and verify, which led to questions about the limits of what can be proved in mathematics and whether math will ultimately become the domain of computers. Meanwhile, an archaeological paper about camels led to a lot of headlines about the Bible being contradicted or perhaps even proven false.
All of this stirred up some of my own thoughts on what can (or cannot) be proved about God. For many Christians, it seems desirable to have logic or philosophy or science prove that God can or must exist. And yet empirically, it would seem that one consequence of pursuing such proofs is that we raise the possibility that God is potentially falsifiable. So naturally some folks become interested in proving God can’t or doesn’t exist, which seems to result in the perception that findings like the timing of when camels arrived in Palestine can falsify the Bible, and possibly by extension God. If the outcome of our attempts to prove that God can or must exist is to cause people to misunderstand the nature of the Bible or the nature of God, then perhaps we need to reconsider the claims we make. For instance, what if we instead tried to prove that God’s existence is somehow formally undecidable?