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Experimental Theology

Do your own scientific research into what religion works for you


When choosing what religion to believe in, it's important to shop around and get good value. Don't get caught out by some of the very poor value bog-standard religions which large numbers of people believe by default rather than making their own minds up. It's a good idea to do some experiments first, rather than believing in something that doesn't achieve practical results for you.

If you were buying double glazing (for example), you'd surely not just buy the brand that was most commonly seen in your local area, or the brand which was advertised on TV in the most charismatic style, would you? No, if you'd got some sense, you'd have a look at the different products on offer and compare the value for money, the quality, etc, and then choose something based on knowledge that it was better than others. So, why choose a religion because of arbitrary things? Why not find out what works for you before deciding what to believe?

If you are thinking of getting a computer, you could buy Microsoft, or you could try Linux, and see what works for you. You don't have to accept stuff that the mainstream shops say is what everyone goes for and therefore you should too.

With your personal beliefs it matters more, because of the way it affects your life. So, don't sell yourself out for an untested product.

Curious as it may seem, many religions are "untested". So, whereas cars and washing machines have been rigorously tested to make sure they are going to be worthwhile, religions are typically not. But never mind, because YOU can test them.

So, if you're thinking of believing in some God or other, yes you should put your God to the test! If any salesman says you shouldn't test the product and you're supposed to just believe it because of some assumption, you can pretty well be sure it's a scam.

If you feel that FAITH should be involved, here's how to find out if faith is basically a good idea or not: Go to the bookies and choose a horse that your faith tells you is going to win. Put a bet on that horse and see what the result is. You can also test the efficacy of your faith by going to casinos, or even by lottery tickets. If you win, then great! Your Faith could be the compass of your life's direction. However, if you don't win, then you need a more reliable way of deciding.

Scientific Experiment has been a reliable way of testing things since the beginning of human history. Technology has improved the quality of life greatly over the centuries. Maybe it is time to apply the scientific method to theological research.

This idea may seem controversial to some, but that's largely because they assume God is like those monsters under the bed that children tend to believe in, where as soon as you look, the monsters are somewhere different. The idea that God has to be an invisible and ineffable entity makes it a rather poor excuse of a God. That's really no good at all when there is suffering in the world which is because of "Act of God".

However, there are many possible types of Gods. Some of these are more accessible than others. Any can be tested. It's just a matter of devising good enough experiments.

A while ago some interesting evidence came in about Experimental Theology. It was mooted that more vicars played golf than would be expected by statistical averages of an assumed average population. Also, it was found by some experimenters that praying the ball would go in the hole tended to increase the chance that the ball would go in the hole. This is excellent stuff as it tends to show evidence that the power of prayer is real and tangible.

The rational scientific thing to do in such a phenomenon would be to set up some decent scientific experiments. Unfortunately, some of the supposedly "scientific" people just poo-pooed the idea, and some of the devoutly religious people stated that the phenomenon of prayer and golf balls going into holes was proof that prayer worked and that therefore their God was existent. Neither group showed scientific enlightenment in testing the situation and showing results by experiment.

This is pretty good if true, as it would be conclusive that the power of prayer worked.

Shortly after the result was found that praying a golf ball would go into the hole showed an increased chance of going into the hole, it was also found that praying that a golf ball would not go into the bunker resulted in a surprising outcome. The ball was more likely to go into the bunker.

This would mean, if we accept the earlier result that God exists on the basis that prayer works at getting golf balls into holes, that God exists but is too stupid to understand the word "not" when used in prayers. By anyone's beliefs this seemed unlikely, as it was reasonably assumed that God either didn't exist, or existed and was intelligent at least as much as a small child. A different hypothesis was required. The favourite seemed to be that the power of prayer works, but doesn't involve "God" exactly. Instead, somehow the subconscious mind that can see concepts, was influencing the path of the ball. The subconscious mind is thoughtful but not "intelligent" in a strictly logical way, so this was more likely a cause of the previously inexplicable golfball behaviour when influenced by prayer.

There may be much more theological research that can be done using Gods that are more accessible than remote. Since early times, tribes of people have created images which represent their Gods. If you create a God, you can also put it to the test. If you can find some deity that works well in such situations, you are onto something.

Successes can be measured by your success at gambling, or in business, or in other life-fulfilling ways. It's obviously in the interests of a particular God to work for you and make you successful if you believe in it. If your God doesn't work for you, you can sack it and get something different.