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avalmez's avatar

Would the proof of a "Theory of Everything" disprove the existance of God, or define God?

Asked by avalmez (1614points) July 10th, 2009

The question stems from another one posed today. In a sense, theologians and scientists alike seek to understand the ultimate regarding the universe and how it is governed. And many prominent among them acknowledge that ultimately, they share this common goal.

If such a theory were to be devised, do you think it would disprove God, or define God?

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29 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

The majority of religious people define God as a personal being, with thoughts, emotions and who interferes with human existence.

Such a theory of everything would describe an impersonal universe, devoid of thoughts and emotions and that therefore does not care about human existence.
In this way it would disprove the common definition of God.

Some of course would slap the God label on this theory and the fundies creationists and their followers would simply reject it with “it’s just a theory”.

Zaku's avatar

I’d say it’d define the perspective of the prover.

avalmez's avatar

@ragingloli thanks for inspiring the question. but, i make no assumptions regarding the nature of the theory., theistic or atheistic alike, i simply ask, if such a theory were to be proved and accepted by theists and atheists alike, is it possible the distinction between the two would disappear?

Blondesjon's avatar

I think the universe is much too subtle to be defined by a single theory.

ragingloli's avatar

The distinction would only disappear if the theory would match the theists’ definition of God, e.g. it would describe an intelligent entity with thoughts and emotions that interacts with human existence, and all atheists became believers. If it contradicted the theists’ definition of God in any way, they would reject it immediately and the distinction would persist.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli . . .did i miss the meeting where you became the voice of all theists?

lillycoyote's avatar

I suspect that if God exists it is a being or consciousness beyond human capacity to understand, describe or define. And perhaps God invented science and will always be one step ahead of us. ;) And it is human hubris to believe we are anywhere close to understanding and/or explaining “everything.”

ragingloli's avatar

Just look at them today. They (the more extreme fundamentalists) are convinced that others of their religion will go to hell for believing in slightly different teachings.
Just imagine what they would think about a theory that disagreed with their view of God in an even greater way than a competing denomination.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ragingloli . . .True, but think about how you would feel if one of them presumed to speak for you.

ragingloli's avatar

As long as it is accurate, fine by me.

Facade's avatar

It depends on who you ask.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The pursuit of science has nothing to do with religion, only the nature of our universe. Science tends to conflict with religious belief historically. I think this is ultimately a good thing. If god(s) exist and have consciousness, would he/she/they/it not want us to explore the nature of our world?

dannyc's avatar

The Theory of Everything has been an elusive butterfly, and latest theories are leading to accommodating gravity through equations that postulate a series of multiverses. There is absolutely no discussion, no intention, to try and disprove God, or even attempt at explaining what is a philosophical and religious quest, not the realm of physics or mathematics. One can believe in a God to have created all of it, regardless of where the Theory of Everything is heading. The conflict is non-existent. Assuming a proof of the Theory did occur, I would hypothesize that by then we will have advanced beyond the more primitive versions of religion anyway. The important moral tenets, organizational human attempts at high achievement, and the belief in a better good for all as a result of some of the more logical religious attenuations to seeking the best for all, will be the legacy of theocratic study. In much the same way as Aristotle or Plato. But no one will ever prove the non-existance of God, or the existence. By nature of the supremacy it postulates, no human conjecture, save for faith, can understand God. It should not stop our search for understanding matter as that endeavor has spinoff benefits for the universe, and all species.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I actually have created a Theory of Everything. The good news is it is only 674,583,806 pages long. The bad news is, like a life-sized map of the United States where one mile equals one mile, this Theory of Everything, when unfolded to be read in its entirety, covers the entire universe.

Jayne's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra; where’d you get all that paper?

ekans's avatar

The theory of everything would not make sense to include a supernatural deity. Such a thing adds is too many variables; it is hard to quantify the actions of one who exists outside the laws of science. To have a theory that explains the laws of the universe include a being that exists outside of these laws is nonsensical. If such a theory were to become known, I think that it would disprove the existence of supernatural deities. That is, of course, if such a theory exists to be known. If there is a supernatural deity, then the theory of everything would be undefinable due to the fact that the supernatural deity exists outside of the laws of the universe in the first place.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Jayne, I used to work at a print shop, so I have connections with a supplier. :-)

wildpotato's avatar

You are talking about metaphysical exploration, and there are quite a few great theories that do what you are describing. My favorite is Alfred North Whitehead’s. He says that every thing (he calls each thing an “actual entity” or “actual occasion”) has a certain level of self-determination, based on it’s level of complexity. Atoms and rocks are not that complex, and so have little self-determination. Humans are quite complex, and have a lot of capacity for self-determination and determination of the actions of entities around them. God is the ultimate actual entity. This is all laid out in his book Process and Reality, though I would suggest starting with Donald Sherburne’s Key to Process and Reality or Hartshorne’s Divine Relativity – they are more accessible to the lay reader.

avalmez's avatar

thanks for a great response. what i am actually asking about is in fact a theory that physicists are attempting to devise, but the question could as easily have been asked from the perspective you provide.

wikiedia has a good article about the theory i mention.

i’ll check into the references you provide.

Zaku's avatar

Well the answer to that, I would say, is no and no, except for people who consider physics to be their religion.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

the theory of everything doesn’t have anything to do with god really. it’s simply an attempt to link gravity electro magnetic and nuclear forces into a single equation. the question of physics is how everything came to be, the question of god is why everything came to be.

a good example and description of a potential theory of everything can be found here.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, because we will never be able to prove whether the newfound ToE is a ToE.

avalmez's avatar

@mattbrowne by newfound ToE do you mean M-theory? why do you assert the newfound ToE will never be proven?

more generally do you think a future alternative ToE may be provable? a digression, i know, but i find the possibility that both a ToE and God may be not be provable, interesting.

more generally, the question is rhetorical, hence i write “define God” and not “prove God” – tried to leave room for all to consider.

also, some systems of philosphy consider God to be “axiomatic”.

mattbrowne's avatar

@avalmez – I meant hypothetically. Suppose in 2025 a theory for unifying all 4 known fundamental forces is created (it might be completely different from M-theory) and verified by numerous observations and experiments. How can we prove that it is a “theory of everything”? We can’t. How do we define “everything”? Are there only 4 fundamental forces? The number of natural phenomena we observe is limited by the nature of our sensors.

Of course what is being defined as ToE will be useful. The current standard model is very useful.

Interestingly the ToE is called ‘world formula’ in German.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@mattbrowne I suppose that’s the essence of a theory though.

there are many cases in which something was technically unproved but has provide several important uses in the world.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 – Yes, a theory for a particular domain. Relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution, big bang theory and so forth. What is the scope of ‘everything’?

kess's avatar

All who knows God already know that he is all things.

And this is no theory but reality.

lloydbird's avatar

Yes and No.

GFespinosa's avatar

Proof of the theory of everything, would obvoiusly have philisophical as well as theological impacts. When it comes to God, i’m sure it will not only disprove mans defenition of God, but it would also establish about God. In other words it would prove just how the gods of antiquity and their stories were developed as well as bringing about proof to the reality of a Creator as that fore-thought. Science can be proven by many examples, more impressive would be revelation of hidden knowledge as it relates to all mentioned.

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