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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. “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.”

    It’s almost as if a sort of weak grade narcissism is at work. If God doesn’t jump through my arbitrary hoop, then “GOD ISN’T REAL LULZ!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really it’s this. They leave God in their teens before they ever learn about arguments for his existence like Big Bang, fine-tuning, origin of life, etc. They don’t like that he isn’t their cosmic Butler. They don’t want the unpopularity burden of living as a Christian in a secular world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just tried the Big Bang link and it doesn’t appear to be working. One question I have is I thought matter could neither be created nor destroyed, at least not by us humans. Have they found concrete evidence of the Big Bang?

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    1. No that’s the whole point, the origin of the natural world (the universe) requires a cause non-natural (supernatural) cause.

      That’s why you see defenders of Christianity like William Lane Craig making the origin of the universe their first argument for God’s existence in debates.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Which ever your religion, (like gender these days, is a choice), Ive found God.. we talk everyday all the time. When I realised I had found God and that god had been there all this time it was like an epiphany moment, a massive realisation. It both matters and doesn’t matter at the same time. It’s different for everybody; its a kind of personal journey. Anyone can start by looking in the mirror; looking into youself.
    Religion is a culture’s way of explaining it. But mainly used for control of the population.

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    1. Just remember that there are other supernatural beings who are also communicating with you – angels and demons both.

      So, without God’s Word, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon repentance and surrender, some of the signals a person might get, and act upon, will be contrary to the One True God of the universe.

      For instance, a man can call himself “female” all he wants to, but the chromosomes do not lie, nor does Christ when he refers to “male and female.”

      Glad you found God too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Being able to square God’s existence with science, and Jesus’ resurrection with history are two crucial steps to showing the reasonableness of Christianity.”

    You’re missing a very important point; science is NEVER about absolute truth, but about testing falsifiable hypotheses. And it is the philosophy of science that has set that goal. You cannot know all other hypotheses that also fit the data. As Christians we must understand that, and be skeptical of “scientific” claims that obviously cross boundaries and are elevated to the level of non-negotiable truths; that is when science has turned into religion. That is actually a VERY common phenomenon.

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  5. Key to understand is that science is build upon heaps of very fundamental assumptions, which are in itself scientifically unprovable. Read Alvin Plantinga or Herman Dooyeweerd to fully appreciate the religious implications.

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  6. “The nice thing about Christianity is that we make lots of testable claims.”

    What about:

    “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. [..] It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.” Ex 31

    God declares Himself he made the heavens and the earth in six days. He also writes it on the two stone tablets with His own finger. What is written on these tablets is preserved in Ex 20 with similar words.

    Six days is all it took for God to create the universe. True or not?

    Liked by 1 person

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