How to falsify a religion using scientific or historical evidence

Will the universe expand forever, or will it collapse and bounce?
Will the universe expand forever, or will it collapse and bounce?

(Image source)

What I often see among atheists is this tendency to set up expectations of how God would have acted and then complain that he doesn’t met those expectations. I don’t think that this is a good way to argue against a religion, because it’s subjective. God isn’t obligated to comport with atheist expectations. A much better way of evaluating religions is to test the claims each makes against evidence.

So in this post, I wanted to show how a reasonable person can evaluate and reject different worldviews using evidence.

Falsifying a religion using science

Consider this argument:

  1. Hindu cosmology teaches that the universe cycles between creation and destruction, through infinite time.
  2. The closest cosmological model conforming to Hindu Scriptures is the eternally “oscillating” model of the universe.
  3. The “oscillating” model requires that the universe exist eternally into the past.
  4. But the evidence today shows the the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.
  5. The “oscillating” model requires that the expansion of the universe reverse into a collapse, (= crunch).
  6. In 1998, the discovery of the year was that the universe would expand forever. There will be no crunch.
  7. Therefore, the oscillating model is disconfirmed by observations.
  8. The oscillating model also faces theoretical problems with the “bounce” mechanism.

Notice how the oscillating model is falsified by mathematics and experimental evidence. Remarkable, when you remember how the public schools would play Carl Sagan videos which promoted this no-Creator model of the universe.

The absolute origin of the universe out of nothing is also incompatible with atheism, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc. because they also require an eternally existing universe.

Atheism in particular is incompatible with the universe “coming into being”, because that would be a supernatural cause – a cause that created the natural world. According to the Secular Humanist Manifesto, atheism is committed to an eternally existing universe, (See the first item: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”). If something non-material brought all existing matter into being, that would be a supernatural cause, and atheists deny that anything supernatural exists. The standard Big Bang theory requires that all the matter in the universe come into being out of nothing.

Falsifying a religion using history

Consider this argument:

  1. To be a Muslim, you must believe that the Koran is without error.
  2. The Koran claims that Jesus did not die on a cross. (Qur’an, 4: 157-158)
  3. The crucifixion of Jesus is undisputed among non-Muslim historians, including atheist historians.
  4. Therefore, it is not rational for me to become a Muslim.

I’m going to support the premise that Jesus was crucified by citing historians from all backgrounds.

Consider some quotes from the (mostly) non-Christian scholars below:

“Jesus’ death as a consequence of crucifixion is indisputable.” Gert Lüdemann

“That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”  J.D. Crossan

“The passion of Jesus is part of history.” Geza Vermes

Jesus’ death by crucifixion is “historically certain”. Pinchas Lapide

“The single most solid fact about Jesus’ life is his death: he was executed by the Roman prefect Pilate, on or around Passover, in the manner Rome reserved particularly for political insurrectionists, namely, crucifixion.” Paula Fredriksen

“The support for the mode of his death, its agents, and perhaps its co-agents, is overwhelming: Jesus faced a trial before his death, was condemned, and was executed by crucifixion.” L.T. Johnson

“One of the most certain facts of history is that Jesus was crucified on orders of the Roman prefect of Judea, Ponitus Pilate.” Bart Ehrman

That’s 7 famous historians: 3 atheists, 3 Jews and 1 moderate Catholic. The atheists, Ludemann, Crossan and Ehrman, have all debated against the resurrection of Jesus with William Lane Craig. Johnson is the moderate Catholic, the rest are Jewish historians. The Koran was written in the 7th century. That is why no professional historian accepts the Koran as more authoritative than the many earlier Christian and non-Christian sources for the crucifixion story. Many of the sources for the crucifixion are dated to the 1st century. It’s not faith. It’s history.

I have seen debates with Muslim scholars, and I have never once heard them cite a non-Muslim historian to the effect that Jesus was not crucified. To my knowledge, there is no (non-Muslim) historian who denies the crucifixion of Jesus in his published work.

Can Christianity be falsified by science or history?

Yes. If you prove that the universe is eternal than would falsify the Bible’s claim that God created the universe out of nothing. That would be a scientific disproof. If you could find the body of Jesus still inside a tomb, that would falsify the Bible’s claim about a resurrection. That would be a historical disproof. The nice thing about Christianity is that we make lots of testable claims. When someone claims to be a Christian, it’s a good thing if they can show how they arrived at that conclusion. Being able to square God’s existence with science, and Jesus’ resurrection with history are two crucial steps to showing the reasonableness of Christianity.

12 thoughts on “How to falsify a religion using scientific or historical evidence”

  1. Is there evidence that the universe had a beginning (and will have an end) other than the Big Bang? Actually evidence for this was known well before the cosmic background radiation information had been examined. It has to do with the Entropy concept. Even in the 19th century the implications were beginning to be understood. In this regard, here’s a quote by physicist Sir Arthur Eddington.

    “We are unwilling to admit in physics that anti-chance plays any part in the reactions between the systems of billions of atoms and quanta that we study; and indeed all our experimental evidence goes to show that these are governed by the laws of chance. Accordingly, we sweep anti-chance out of the laws of physics – out of the differential equations. Naturally, therefore, it reappears in the boundary conditions, for it must be got into the scheme somewhere. By sweeping it far enough away from our current physical problems, we fancy we have got rid of it. It is only when some of us are so misguided as to try to get back billions of years into the past that we find the sweepings all piled up like a high wall and forming a boundary – a beginning of time – which we cannot climb over.” (p. 450)

    Eddington, Arthur (1931) The End of the Physical World: From the Standpoint of Mathematical Physics. pp. 447-453 in Nature Vol. 127

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  2. How about population genetics refuting Adam & Eve as historical people. No Adam & Eve, no sin in the world and no need for a savior. I would say science proved the bible wrong there.

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    1. That Is not a logical argument, the fact that we don’t know how sin came to be, does not mean that sin does not exist, that Is a genetic fallacy. In any case you would be arguing of how sin came into humanity not whenever it exist or not.

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  3. What he doesn’t take into account is that mitochondrial eve and y chromosomal adam were not contemporaries.Aslo, this doesn’t mean that they were the first and only humans. They still lived among a larger population.

    I read his book Who was Adam and hes doesn’t provide any good scientific counterpoints. He just merely fluffs it off.

    The data is pretty solid and it has christians panicking and rethinking their doctrine which is dishonest. It’s just better to admit the bible was wrong.

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    1. Even if your argument is correct, atheism would still not be true, because of the Big Bang cosmology and cosmic fine tuning. So the most you would lose is Biblical inerrancy. Atheism can’t survive in a created universe fine-tune for life. But, I am being told by an expert that there is a problem with your argument. I’m trying to get him to reply to you.

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    2. Christians are not “rethinking doctrine” (the creation story Is not a doctrine, do you even know what doctrine means?). Christians have not taken the Bible since It’s beggining in a literal way, and the Creation account from at least the middle ages , way before the theory of evolution came around:

      https://www.quora.com/Why-did-science-make-little-real-progress-in-Europe-in-the-Middle-Ages-3
      It Is not christians who are dishonesty, it Is you who are willfully ignorant.

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  4. @JLAFan2001
    Biblically, Noah was the last y chromosome common ancestor of all people living today. What genetic data are you using to determine when Adam lived? And what mutation rates are you using to estimate when these ancestors lived?

    Finally, what genetics data are you using to determine that there was always more than two people?

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