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God Is not a Scientific Problem

June 24, 2010

What are the grounds for our certainty of the realness of God? It is clear that we cannot submit religion to scientific logic. Science is not the only way to truth, and its methods do not represent all of human thinking. Indeed, they are out of place in that dimension of human existence in which God is a burning issue.

God is not a scientific problem, and scientific methods are not capable of solving it. The reason why scientific methods are often thought to be capable of solving it is the success of their application in positive sciences. The fallacy involved in this analogy is that of treating God as if He were a phenomenon within the order of nature. The truth, however, is that the problem of God is not only related to phenomena within nature but to nature itself; not only to concepts within thinking but to thinking itself. It is a problem that refers to what surpasses nature, to what lies beyond all things and all concepts.

The moment we utter the name of God we leave the level of scientific thinking and enter the realm of the ineffable. Such a step is one which we cannot take scientifically, since it transcends the boundaries of all that is given. It is in spite of all warnings that man has never ceased to be stirred by ultimate questions. Science cannot silence him [man], because scientific terms are meaningless to the spirit that raises these questions, meaningless to the concern for a truth greater than the world that science is engaged in exploring.

God is not the only problem which is inaccessible to science. The problem of the origin of reality remains immune to it. There are aspects of given reality which are congruous with the categories of scientific logic, while there are aspects of reality which are inaccessible to this logic. Even some aspects and concepts of our own thinking are impregnable to analysis.

– Abraham Joshua Heschel “God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism” pages 101-102

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