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.

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

      1. I love LOR’s take on almost all the issues brought up here, and as an atheist, her willingness to frequent a Christian website without sounding nasty or condescending.

        That being said, there really aren’t any arguments/evidence FOR atheism, and there’s a ton of evidence AGAINST it, and FOR theism (fine-tuning, the Big Bang, consciousness, the Moral Argument, origin of life, etc.etc.).

        This relegates atheism to the status of a cult: something that is believed in without evidence, and indeed in the face of much counter-evidence. It has been rightly called the last superstition.

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  1. Most intellectual atheists would say the universe could have existed eternally in the singularity and then expanded at a certain point. How and why it expanded? No one knows. No one can comprehend what could be before time, matter, space, energy was created. But there is normally an escape argument or hypothesis for anyone trying to promote what they choose to accept as more viable.

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    1. Well, atheists can’t comprehend it. But theists do: God exists causally prior to the singularity and brought the natural world into being: an eternally existing, supernatural cause. The science is incomprehensible to atheists, but theists accept the science.

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  2. Many of the subjective atheist arguments fail logic. The universe is so big it is wasteful and proof of no God. It is also so big and we ocfupyyso little and they call it proof we are inconsequential to the universe.

    But the massive size and big bang are strong proofs for judeo Christian origins because other gods are too small to make such a big universe, and random chance fluctuations will never randomly make this much matter and energy

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    1. It’s sad that Christians don’t learn in church to point out the problem with these preference arguments. A lot of people think God ought to do exactly what he expects and this is a reason to reject him. Not just regarding the how the universe is set up, but also just in terms of being their cosmic butler. I remember atheist Lewis Wolpert explaining to WLC in a debate how he lost his belief in God when God refused to help him find his cricket bat. And he said that in public, with no sense of irony.

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    2. Check out Hugh Ross’ Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. In it he gives scientific proof that the universe is EXACTLY the right age, shape, and size, with EXACTLY the right number and type of stars necessary for ANY kind of life to exist ANYWHERE.

      But for those not familiar with the science, there’s this (h/t to WLC):

      A God with limitless time and resources can afford to be extravagant anyway, so this so-called objection completely collapses.

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