A CONCLUSIVE TEST [c. 1958]

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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A CONCLUSIVE TEST

By Robert Morris Page, Physicist

B.Sc, Hamline University, M.Sc, George Washington Uni­versity, Hon. D.Sc, Hamline University. With Naval Re­search Laboratory, Washington, D.C., since 1927. In 1934 completed first pulse radar in the world for detection of air­craft; received U.S. Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award, Presidential Certificate of Merit, IRE Fellowship, Harry Diamond Memorial Award, Stuart Ballantyne Medal of the Franklin Institute. Holder of 37 patents, mostly in radar. Author of numerous technical articles and lectures. Presently Associate Director of Research for Electronics, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Specialist in precision in­strumentation in electronics, administration of research. Credited with developing the world’s first radar system. (RADAR is an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging. Thus, to be called a “radar,” a system must both detect a target and measure the range to the target. Many earlier systems had functioned only to detect without measuring range). Ronald Reagan, in 1986, wrote to him remarking that 50 years after his initial radar work “our nation’s scientists continue to rely on your research.”

 

The test of an hypothesis involves the establish­ment of conditions consistent with the hypothesis to produce results predicted by the hypothesis on the assumption that the hypothesis is true. Thus there are at least three elements necessary to the test of an hypothesis: (1) meeting specified conditions, (2) to produce predicted results, (3) on the assumption of validity of the hypothesis. The first two con­ditions are generally accepted without argument; the third is a more subtle point that frequently escapes recognition as a necessary element in the test of any hypothesis.

When ships were built of wood because it was commonly believed that in order to float they had to be built of mate­rials lighter than water, the proposition was made that ships could be built of iron and still float. A certain blacksmith stated that ships built of iron could not float because iron would not float, and he proved his point by tossing a horse­shoe into a tub of water. His assumption that the hypothesis was untrue foreclosed the possibility of his devising an ex­periment consistent with the hypothesis which might have produced the result predicted by the hypothesis. Had he assumed the hypothesis to be true, he would have tossed an iron wash basin into the tub of water instead of an iron horseshoe.

REALLY BAD SCIENCE

Sometimes a full test of an hypothesis requires observa­tions that are not available to a particular observer. For example, suppose an observer is limited in his observation to the surface of the ocean. This observer can see nothing that is above or below the surface of the water and is aware of the presence of objects only through a breaking of the water surface by contact. This observer can be aware of any object floating on the water. Thus all boats, however large or small, or floating debris and birds swimming on the surface may be available for observation. Birds or airplanes flying through the air, fish or submarines below the surface, are non-existent as far as the observer is concerned. A sub­merged object coming to the surface, or a bird alighting on the water appear to the observer as a creating of something out of nothing. The inverse process appears as annihilation. To this observer a large body of phenomena will be familiar and more or less well understood, namely phenomena as­sociated with objects floating on the water.

However, certain phenomena appearing occasionally and unpredictably could not be explained; such, for example, as the sudden appear­ance or disappearance of a bird alighting on the water or taking off from the water.

Let us assume that this observer meets an informer who can see birds and airplanes flying through the air and who can peer beneath the surface and see fishes and submarines. If there is communication between the two, many phenom­ena previously observed but unexplained can now be ex­plained and understood. However, the existence of so radical a concept as sub-surface swimming or super-surface flying would be very difficult for our original observer to accept. He would tend to disbelieve his informer until the informer’s own veracity could in some way be checked. This might be rather difficult to do. However, one thing that the informer could do to establish his authenticity with the observer would be to predict, through his observations of things which only he could see, occurrences which our observer could later observe but could not explain. For example, the informer may observe a bird about to dive into the water to capture a fish also observed by the informer. He may then tell our observer that he is about to see a sudden separation in the surface of the water as a bird passed through the surface. This separation would be followed by the emergence of the bird, carrying a fish back into the air. When this prediction is fulfilled our observer will have at least some evidence that his informer knows what he is talking about and is telling the truth.

With this brief introduction, let us now turn to the idea of the existence of God and categorize that idea, as it is categorized in some minds, as an hypothesis. As we turn our attention to the problem of testing that hypothesis, these are the things we find:

First, for the purpose of making a valid test we must as­sume, for the time being at least, that the hypothesis is true. Whether or not we believe it, we must make the assump­tion for the purpose of the test. Otherwise, we will be in­capable of making a valid test.

Second, we must be prepared to accept the testimony of many that our powers of observation are limited to a rela­tively small portion of all reality. The hypothesis that there is a God includes certain conditions relative to the existence of God which are beyond the province of science to test. The testimony of many is that God is a spirit, and, as such, exists in a realm of reality which is not wholly included in the physical universe, not restricted within three spatial dimensions, and not subject to the laws of time as we know them. We must be prepared to recognize that our physical universe, all contained within certain dimensions of space and time, may be only a small part of all reality, just as the surface of the sea is only a small part of all space known to us.

Third, assuming that there is a God, we must be pre­pared to deal seriously with the concept that that God is capable of revealing to us information concerning reality beyond our physical universe.

Tests as described above have been made by many in­vestigators, including the author. The author has found in the Christian Bible a very large amount of information con­cerning the spiritual world. This information has come into the Bible through human agencies, that is, through men who wrote what they believed and what they knew to be true. The authenticity of the writings of these men, though the men themselves are human, is established by such things as the prediction of highly significant events far in the future that could be accomplished only through knowledge ob­tained from a realm which is not subject to the laws of time, as we know them. The prediction of future events is not the only evidence, but is given as an example of one type of evidence, which is used to establish the authenticity of the testimony of our informers, the men who wrote the Bible.

One of the great evidences is the long series of prophecies concerning Jesus, the Messiah. These prophecies extend for hundreds of years prior to the birth of Christ. They include a vast amount of detail concerning Christ himself, His na­ture, and things which He would do when He came—things which to the natural world, or to the scientific world, remain to this day completely inexplicable. The historical appear­ance of the Christ as prophesied, with the fulfillment of all the many things that were prophesied, a fulfillment that is so firmly established historically as to be doubted only by those with little knowledge, has authenticated not only the prophecies concerning Him but also the validity of His teachings when He came.

The clinching argument for the validity of our funda­mental hypothesis is a personal and private matter, one which arises only in the personal experience of individuals.

When one participates in experiments in which all of the implications of the hypothesis as derived from our in­formers are taken into account, one can observe whether or not the predicted results are actually obtained.

When one studies the relationships which can and should exist between man and God, when one studies the condi­tions that man must fulfill to establish these relationships, and when one seriously and wholeheartedly sets about to fulfill those conditions, the achievement of the predicted relationships results with such overwhelming influence in the person’s life that there can be no room for doubt in the person’s mind. God becomes an intimate personal reality of such nearness and such magnitude that faith grows to the proportions of positive knowledge.

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