Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Our Skeptic Forums
 Religion
 Christianity, immaterialism, and falsifiability
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 4

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2012 :  03:57:06  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Christian apologists defend their religion in many ways, none of which are connected in any manner to the actual material world. When they do attempt "scientific" apologetics (as with "scientific Creationism"), the results range from the absurd use of lies and fake science to totally unimpressive sophistry. I find the apologists' arguments entirely unconvincing, and, well, immaterial.

I agree with Madonna's song:
'Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
In science and other fields (such as history), skepticism is the primary guide to good thought and study. Science in particular has been enormously successful in making advances by studying the material world through a skeptical lens.

Science works in steps (though not always in the same order, and sometimes one step is mixed into another), more or less as follows:

1. A hypothesis is advanced. This is a tentative explanation of how scientists think some little understood aspect of the real world operates. (A mere wild-assed brain-storming guess or speculation might be called a "conjecture" to put a pretty term to it. But it's not a hypothesis, which is more of an "educated guess".)

2. Observational or experimental data are gathered to test whether the hypothesis is a correct explanation of the unknown agency or agencies that make that "aspect of the real world" operate as it does.

3. After review by a committee of other scientists in their field (assuming those savants agree the research is worthy of the honor) the scientists publish the results of their study. (This is called "peer reviewed publication".) They provide to the world the physical evidence that indicates whether or not their hypothesis was a true explanation. If they think it was correct, the scientists list predictions that would logically follow if their hypothesis is correct. They also should discuss falsifiability, pointing out ways their hypothesis could be overthrown if it were incorrect. A hypothesis that is not even theoretically falsifiable is very likely false, though not always. If their study finds that their hypothesis was incorrect, they unashamedly let the world know that.

4. After publication, other scientists all over the Earth begin to try to duplicate or confirm the experiment or observations of the original researchers. Some will try to falsify the original scientists' predictions.

5. These other scientists then publish their results, which are then subject to the same kind of ruthless critiques.

6. At some undefined point, usually years down the road, and only if the hypothesis has stood up to duplicate experimentation and/or observation, and only if nobody has been able to falsify the predictions of their hypothesis, the hypothesis of the original scientists graduates and becomes a scientific theory. If the hypothesis has been found wanting, it may be simply abandoned, or it might be modified by the original scientists or others, at which point the process starts again at "1."

6. A scientific theory is a well-tested understanding of how some aspect of the material world works. It has stood up to many tests, and it actually works as a predictive tool. It is not "just an opinion." But even as strong as a scientific theory is, it too is subject to being falsified, partially or wholly, at some time in the future. (Note: It's very important to understand what a theory is, especially as anti-science people are constantly misrepresenting a "theory" as if it meant the "opinion or guess of some scientist".)

That's a very powerful process, especially the use of falsifiability. This falsifiability is so important, if it is lacking in a hypothesis, that there is little chance of that hypothesis becoming a theory until that lack is overcome. (See String "Theory"!) This process relies upon skepticism at all stages. Science has cycled through these steps hundreds of thousands of times. This method has proved to work remarkably well. Such scientific skepticism has rubbed off on the skeptical community in general.

"Knee-jerk" disbelief among skeptics, which is deplored by many religious and other people is, in effect, the step-child of the scientific process. Such skepticism reflects the time-proven power of science. Like scientists, skeptics find strength in their default position of disbelief in strange claims.

But True Believers of every stripe despise skeptics. They think we are too full of negative (or worse, Satanic) vibes. They think we are just picking on them. But in reality, in the material world, just observing the vicious fights over scientific hypotheses, or simply looking over forums of skeptics, shows that we eat our own all the time. We only subject believers to the same standards of argumentation that we accept among ourselves.

I am of the mind that "truth" of any kind is a description of reality, in other words, of an aspect of the material world. Without such an underlying definition of truth, the word becomes meaningless, open to any anything, including obvious falsehoods.

Now, let's compare this with the steps that the Christian religious appear to use to arrive at their faith:

1. Under parental, priestly, or social pressure, a person studies, or at least memorizes, parts or all of ancient scripture. The material world is assumed to confine itself to the limits laid out by the Deity as presented in the scripture.

2. This scripture makes it clear that a God exists, describes him as a super-powered, immortal, vengeful, paternalistic, misogynistic, and jealous male, whose actions must not and cannot be be judged by humans. He's also his own son, whom he slaughtered so that humans could be saved. By "saved," the scripture means being allowed to spend eternity worshiping at God's feet (or, failing salvation, being consigned to eternal torture).

3. The scripture (in perfectly circular logic) vouches for its own immutable truth in its every word. (With, of course, theologians to explain in worldly, church-and-priest-friendly terms what it all really means.)

4. After endless repetition of the main points of the sect, and through seductive and/or threatening encounters with existing believers, a person sooner or later has a "road to Damascus" sort of experience, in which he or she suddenly has an epiphany and "gets it." Either that, or he or she learns to fake having a belief, in order to forestall further harassment.

5. The concept of "faith" is of absolutely primary importance to Christians. Faith means never having to ask, "Is this true?" Faith is the attempt to elevate the deliberate avoidance of evidence into a holy virtue. It's like saying "My God is so awesome, He doesn't need proof." Or, more simply, "Don't argue with the Priests."

6. Any "falsifiability" of their beliefs is not something that Christians want to even consider, much less hold up as a strength as does science. Such thoughts would be such a buzz-kill for their blind faith.

7. Faith essentially entails throwing out all logic and responsibility for thought. Quite a few of the scientists who are Christians somehow are able to compartmentalize their thinking and thus remain skeptics within their (faithless) scientific fields. But faith, to the extent that it is not ignored, itself is pure poison to efforts like science to find material truth. For all practical purposes, "faith" is pretty word overtly used to excuse and elevate delusion.

I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment. Also, nothing is true that is not subject to falsifiability. Christian religion, based on these criteria, is simply untrue.

But there's more. Though major claims of Christianity appear to be so mystical and insubstantial in nature that they must be rejected for their lack of falsifiability alone, other claims intrude into the material world that are science's, or history's, proper bailiwicks. Here's a few "scientific" or "historical" claims of the Bible:

1. The universe was created by God a few thousand years ago, and it took Him just six days. The Earth was created first, then the sun and moon, then, as an afterthought, the stars. The first human was made out of clay, while the second was made from clay and the first human's rib.

2. Bats are birds (Deuteronomy 14:11-18), and grasshoppers have four legs (Leviticus 11:21-23).

3. The mathematical constant Pi=3 (1 Kings 7).

4. Moses wrote the accounts (Deuteronomy 1-1 and Deuteronomy 31:9) of his own death and burial (Deuteronomy 34).

5. The Hebrew people exited from Egypt in one huge wave, and then conquered and settled in Canaan.

6. The Earth is a circular plane (Isaiah 40:22). It somehow has four corners, set on pillars (Rev. 7:10).

There are many more such scientific and historical claims in the Bible, but those should suffice to make this point: The Bibles makes many falsifiable material world claims that, like those whoppers above, have indeed been soundly falsified long ago.

In conclusion, I think:

1. Christianity's mystical claims are unfalsifiable, literally immaterial, and irrelevant in the real world.

2. The claim of the Bible's inerrant nature have been repeatedly falsified in cases where the scripture makes physical claims. The rest of the scripture is a mishmash of unfalsifiable mystical claims, poetry, bad history and behavioral injunctions.

3. What Christianity does say about the real world is so riddled with factual error and supernatural nonsense as to be useless, as could be expected from the writings of superstitious and pre-scientific people. To the extent that Christian theology speaks of the real world, it has been generally falsified. Its mystical claims must be rejected by anyone who cares about truth, as they are not only unfalsifiable, but immaterial.

4. There may be portions of the Bible that are falsifiable and also remain so far unfalsified. (I personally can't think of any such rogue verses, but I suspect that some such exist.) But any such scattered parts, taken together, would hardly be enough to resemble a religion, much less one like the belief of the Christians.

Science mo bettah.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 03/11/2012 08:35:07

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2012 :  17:39:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
3. What Christianity does say about the real world is so riddled with factual error and supernatural nonsense as to be useless, as could be expected from the writings of superstitious and pre-scientific people.
Ah, but some of "laws" from the old testament actually are good advice (though for the wrong reason). Like stay the f*** away from shell-fish (subtext: they can get you really sick, and a layperson may not be able to tell the difference between good and spoiled ones).
Of course, such advice can be transmitted in other ways, but I suppose that divine decree is very effective.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2012 :  22:26:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Originally posted by HalfMooner
3. What Christianity does say about the real world is so riddled with factual error and supernatural nonsense as to be useless, as could be expected from the writings of superstitious and pre-scientific people.
Ah, but some of "laws" from the old testament actually are good advice (though for the wrong reason). Like stay the f*** away from shell-fish (subtext: they can get you really sick, and a layperson may not be able to tell the difference between good and spoiled ones).
Of course, such advice can be transmitted in other ways, but I suppose that divine decree is very effective.
Well if that's right about the dangers of shellfish, maybe Christianity and Judaism can rebuild simplified religions around that one point?

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 03/12/2012 :  16:07:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I was just using it as an example, I'm sure there are more to be found, if you look closely enough. What I'm saying is that if you look far enough in there, you're bound to find laws that actually do make sense (from, for example, health perspective) but framed as a divine decree.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/12/2012 :  18:54:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, the shellfish prohibition of the Jews only makes sense for bad shellfish or for those who have allergies. Seems to me that any useful divine shellfish commandments would be deal with those problems, not be a blanket prohibition for a major sou5rce of food.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2012 :  01:06:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I started thinking about the OP here about a month ago. From time to time while musing, I had a vague feeling I was assembling an actual disproof of Christianity in my mind,. Note this was a feeling only -- I never seemed to be able to put together the whole disproof in my mind at one time, only parts.

Indeed, I don't think I have now anything approaching a formal (or informal) disproof above. I don't flatter myself that I can come up with a simple formula disproving God, as once (accidentally) the briefly great economist and über atheist, Homer Simpson did in The Simpsons, season 12, episode 9. I do not pretend to place myself on a high pedestal alongside Homer.

But I'm pretty happy that the only criticism so far has been Dr. Mabuse's that the Old Testament may have had some good things to say about food poisoning.

Yet since I'm trying to hone my arguments, I'd appreciate all the help and criticism I can get. Where have I gone wrong, where have I gone right? Did the whole of the OP land wide of my target, or have I disproved a 2,000 year old religion. (Okay, I don't really expect that last one to be true.)

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 03/14/2012 01:12:47
Go to Top of Page

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9672 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2012 :  05:13:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Christianity as stated above is just one brand of many. Your specific brand is young earth literalist. While this may represent the largest section of Christianity in USA, it does probably not in Europe, and I'm fairly certain it does not represent main-stream Christians in Sweden. If you run into an Old Earth Creationist with your argument, he will probably call it strawman.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2012 :  06:42:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Christianity as stated above is just one brand of many. Your specific brand is young earth literalist. While this may represent the largest section of Christianity in USA, it does probably not in Europe, and I'm fairly certain it does not represent main-stream Christians in Sweden. If you run into an Old Earth Creationist with your argument, he will probably call it strawman.
In a twisted sense, I am actually with the YECs on this, in fact I would go further. Abandoning the obviously intended six twenty-four-hour-day of creation may be realistic, but it's non-canonical and effectively heresy. So was abandoning the Bible's flat earth, as even most of those hypocritical and selective YEC "literalists" have done.

Giving up the problematical parts of a religion doesn't put the "moderates" (an entirely relative term!) in a stronger position. It puts them in disorganized retreat from their own scripture. It's even a move in the general direction of atheism, by small increments, but still in that direction.

Within a generation or two, Young Earth Creation will, I suspect, be all but gone, like Flat Earth. The fundies will still be there, but their hot-button issues will be something else for most of them. (Maybe the denial of robots having souls and thus rights?)

The fundies are correct that any retreat will see them going down a real slippery slope, but they can't stop even their own slide. The evidence for deep time is at least as powerful as that for a globular earth. They fundies are just the most stubbornly retreating warriors of the Christian Rear Guard.

My arguments were not all based upon the reality of deep time, but I would tell those moderate Christians what I said above: They've already abandoned many inconvenient parts of their delusional; creed. I would ask, how long for each of the others to be tossed out along the roadside? The divinity of Jesus? Miracles? Hell? Heaven? God? Each of these has already been abandoned by one or another self-identified "Christian" sect. Once you've tossed out enough of them, there's "no True Christianity," except in name, remaining.

The moderates are doing fine at the piecemeal demolition of their own faith, both in core beliefs and in numbers of adherents. They are doing fine. and don't need an atheist's help.

I tried to go after Christianity in general, but of course all the sectarian differences would make that overwhelmingly complex. So my main focus is on the fundamentalist sects, which in many ways really are the real Christianity, and are the only growing sects of the religion.

So, it's my opinion that the moderate churches with the ever-flexible doctrines and declining memberships largely make themselves irrelevant, while the fundies are the not only the easier target, but the more urgent one for any anti-apologetics.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page

Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2012 :  01:24:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dr. Mabuse

Christianity as stated above is just one brand of many. Your specific brand is young earth literalist. While this may represent the largest section of Christianity in USA, it does probably not in Europe, and I'm fairly certain it does not represent main-stream Christians in Sweden. If you run into an Old Earth Creationist with your argument, he will probably call it strawman.


I don't even think it's mainstream among US Christians, at least from my experience. I've had only one Christian ever argue YEC to me, though of course I can't expect my conversations with Christians on the topic to be representative of the entire Christian population.

And, only thoughtful Christians typically want to talk about such things to a non-agreeing person.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
Go to Top of Page

Convinced
Skeptic Friend

USA
384 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  08:32:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Convinced a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment.
Can this statement of truth can be verified by outside observation or experiment?

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)
Go to Top of Page

Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  08:49:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Convinced

Originally posted by HalfMooner

I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment.
Can this statement of truth can be verified by outside observation or experiment?


And existentialism raises it's ugly head because someone wants to hold forth religion as true and provable.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
Go to Top of Page

Convinced
Skeptic Friend

USA
384 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  09:27:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Convinced a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Valiant Dancer

Originally posted by Convinced

Originally posted by HalfMooner

I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment.
Can this statement of truth can be verified by outside observation or experiment?


And existentialism raises it's ugly head because someone wants to hold forth religion as true and provable.
I don't know much about existentialism but I will google it.

I think religion is provable, go look in a Catholic church during mass and you can observe religion being practiced for example. Did you mean God instead of religion?

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  10:32:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Convinced

Originally posted by HalfMooner

I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment.
Can this statement of truth can be verified by outside observation or experiment?
Trick question, therefor God?

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page

Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  10:53:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner
I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment.


What about deductive things -- math? Statements can be true within a logical system independent of the physical world.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
Go to Top of Page

Convinced
Skeptic Friend

USA
384 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  11:00:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Convinced a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Trick question, therefor God?
I think you are reading into my question something that is not there. I was not trying to prove God exists. I was only trying to see if you could prove your statement to be true by using the criteria for truth stated in it. Maybe it can, I don't really know for sure. It was a question not a statement.

If you think it is an unfair or trick question then can you explain to me why it is?

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17)
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  11:02:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

Originally posted by HalfMooner
I submit that nothing is true if it cannot be verified by outside observation or experiment.


What about deductive things -- math? Statements can be true within a logical system independent of the physical world.
But doesn't math work in dealing with the physical world, thus verifying the math?

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 4 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.22 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000