Using the Scientific Method to Discover God

I have heard many scholarly people say something like, "You cannot answer spiritual questions with the scientific method." For them, such questions as, "Does God exist?" cannot be answered by collecting data. I full-heartedly disagree.

test tubes

Part of our idea about the scientific method being in opposition to discovering the existence of God may come, in part, from C.S. Lewis. In the early 1940s, the Oxford Professor said the following about discovering God through physical evidence, "No mere observation of the facts can find it" (Mere Christianity, Chapter 4). 

Admittedly, I partially agree with Lewis. Observation of our physical universe or collecting data using our bodily senses does not produce the strongest form of evidence for the existence of a Supreme Being. In fact, Paul, a New Testament writer, declared, “Faith is the … evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). He admits that evidence for God cannot be observed, but He also explains there is legitimate evidence.

Let's examine the scientific method for a moment. There are many models or diagrams representing the methods scientists use to discover facts. Here is one version I put together based on others I’ve seen:

  1. I make an observation. 
  2. I ask a question. 
  3. I formulate a hypothesis and make predictions. 
  4. I conduct an experiment and/or collect data. 
  5. I analyze the data. 
  6. I draw conclusions. 
  7. I repeat the process. 

If you think of this process in spiritual terms, I believe you will come to the same conclusion: The scientific method not only can be used to discover if God is there, it should be used for that purpose. The biggest difference is the evidence is largely internal, not external (or physical).

A verse from the Book of Mormon says, "If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe" (Alma 32:27).

In my next post, I will explain how this might be done using the steps outlined above.

This song called, "Flying" by Cody Fry is not totally related to this topic, but I love it. Please take a listen and enjoy: