This topic came up during a correspondence of mine with a creationist. I find it quite interesting, so I bring it here as is.
Steve: The big bang is a hypothesis. It cannot be directly tested. God’s creation cannot be tested either.
Me: Scientifically speaking, the Big Bang is an established scientific theory. God is a hypothesis. Both so far cannot be directly tested.
Steve: God inhabits a different dimension to ours, so is physically non verifiable.
Me: Yes… it inhabits the “dimension” of our stories/minds.
We have to carefully pick our words here: If you claim that things that affect me today were formed directly or indirectly by something (“God”, laws of nature, whatever) – then that something has a lot to do with my “dimension”, and the area where it intersects with my world – is subject to research, and (as far as I’m concerned) – should be researched.
Steve: My position is that God created the universe from the outside. Here you avoid the problems of thermodynamics. As he is outside of our physical existence, he is not limited by say, time. He can access us but we cannot physically access, or test his existence.
Me: There is a big difference between statements like “God inhabits a different dimension to ours … God created the universe from the outside” and “the area where it intersects with my world – is subject to research”.
The former describes one’s internal feelings, trying to express them using our limited vocabulary. A word like ‘dimension’ has very specific meanings in science. A term like ‘outside the universe’ has no scientific meaning at all (assuming you’d say the same in the case of “multiverse”). As such, those are just words with which different people relate different feelings.
I would even say more than this: Because of the way our brains work, most people would have such feelings. The difference between a good scientist and a “bad” one is the ability to distinguish between such feelings and cold dry facts that may sometimes contradict our feelings.
Steve: There is no overlap or intersection.
Re “trying to express feelings using our limited vocabulary” — It is the best description I can give.
Re dimensions — It is like the inhabitants of flatland. They can go anywhere in a 2D world. Then someone comes in from a 3D existence. The people cannot comprehend this.
Re “A term like ‘outside the universe’ has no scientific meaning at all” — This is the supernatural, not part of our physical existence.
Me: Anything that has zero intersection with my world is equivalent to non-existing, because my world is the same with or without it. And vice versa: If it somehow affects my world or did affect in the past – then this is an intersection, which is therefore subject to research.
Anything that affects or affected my world/universe can be scientifically described at least in terms of that influence. Saying “created the universe from the outside” (assuming you don’t refer to the theory of multiverse) – is scientifically meaningless. There is no “outside”, because “is” makes it “inside”.
The same goes for the term ‘supernatural’. Either it intersects “nature” or it doesn’t. If it does, then this intersection is part of nature (i.e., “natural”) and has to be researched. If it doesn’t then it has zero relevance for nature, equivalent to non-existing.
There is a difference between things we find hard to comprehend and things we cannot research. The modern String theory talks about many dimensions, and is scientifically researched.