In my field statistical analysis is arguably the most demonstrably powerful tool we have. And given our current quality of technology, it’s incredibly easy. There’s almost no math required! All one must do after formulating their research question, collecting data, and coherently determining variables is press a button. Voila! Thank god for SPSS!! (I’m kidding. Thank IBM for SPSS).
Using statistical analysis we can determine correlations between two or more phenomena (variables). Prior to this we’ve looked at the data and come up with a hypothesis. We’ve also come up with a null hypothesis.
In statistics the null hypothesis is the default position. For example, we might hypothesize that female participation in government is negatively correlated with state corruption. Prior to running our analysis, we will also acknowledge the reverse, or the null hypothesis: Female participation in government has no correlation with state corruption. Then we run our regression to determine if our positive hypothesis is demonstrable. If not, we automatically revert back to our default position, the null hypothesis.
We can do this with the existence of god too, but it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for religious folk.
To be fair, however, our research question has to be a little more complicated than merely, “Does god exist?” For example, our research question would have to be something like, “Is prayer positively correlated with the spontaneous regrowth of amputated limbs in humans?” Or “Is attending faith healing seminars positively correlated with the spontaneous healing of terminal cancer?” In either case our null hypotheses would state that there is no correlation. After our regression I’m almost certain we would find no correlation, and our position reverts back to the null hypothesis.
While this doesn’t answer the question of whether or not god exists, it helps to answer any question about god’s involvement with human affairs. Formulate any scientific question for statistical analysis, and we will find that supernatural explanations are always insufficient explanations. If we are constantly reverting back to the null hypothesis, god’s place in human affairs is essentially nonexistent. In statistics we can sufficiently say god does not exist.
Of course, we have to acknowledge the limits of our research. A deist, for example, would almost certainly argue that these questions are outside the scope of the divine because god remains supernatural by not involving him/herself with natural affairs. I’m by no means deist, but this is the route I take. Although I don’t believe in any god, I see no reason to believe that if one exists it meddles with natural phenomena. Therefore, although statistical analysis leaves no room for the existence of god and essentially says, “God doesn’t exist,” and although we will always revert to the null hypothesis in questions relating to god’s existence, we cannot say, “God doesn’t exist,” because statistical analysis can only handle phenomena we can actually observe. And if god exists and remains supernatural, he/she leaves no evidence for us to observe.