TUTORIAL - Christianity is falsifiable

How can we expose more people to critical thinking?
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Abdul Alhazred
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Post by Abdul Alhazred »

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davefoc
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Post by davefoc »

Several people (Exarch most notably) put together detailed responses to the paragraphs that are the subject of this thread that I agree with.

But I think that a detailed response to paragraphs are more than they deserve. Without a better definition of what the author meant by Christianity it is pointless to discuss whether ithe Christianity he had in mind is falsifiable. Is the statement "Xouper is a jerk" falsifiable. This is a nonsense question. Which Xouper does the statement refer to? What constitutes being a jerk?. Since none of that is defined the correct answer could only be that it might be a falsifiable statement if appropriate definitions of the terms accompanied the statement.
specious_reasons wrote
I think this is established as a strawman. Certainly if a Gospel contained gross mistakes of historical record, it would be more suspect. However, if I remember correctly, none of them do, how convincing it will be later on when this is shown to be true!
I hope I am not misreading your intent here but substantial sections of the gospels have been shown to be either contradictory with each other or with historical facts.

I think it is reasonable to argue that this has not done anything to falsify at least some reasonable definitions of Christianity. It might serve to falisfy the notion of an infallible bible and a Christian belief system that believed in an infallible bible. In practice biblical contradictions and historical inaccuracies in no way serve to falsify Christianity. Most Christians are mostly unaware of them and even if they are known to some Christians most Christians do not believe in complete biblical infallibility anyway.

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specious_reasons
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Post by specious_reasons »

davefoc wrote:
specious_reasons wrote
I think this is established as a strawman. Certainly if a Gospel contained gross mistakes of historical record, it would be more suspect. However, if I remember correctly, none of them do, how convincing it will be later on when this is shown to be true!
I hope I am not misreading your intent here but substantial sections of the gospels have been shown to be either contradictory with each other or with historical facts.
Well, I am aware that the Gospels don't always mesh up exactly. Apologists I know have countered most of the obvious inconsistencies are a matter of focus on events versus actual timeline inaccuracies. I haven't verified all of what they were saying. (I noticed that a section of the site is dedicated to "Bible Difficulties".) The idea is that the historical inaccuracies are not so gross or obvious that they can't be rationalized away. For an example, there's no instance I know of where Jesus is one place in one Gospel timeline, and in a different place in another Gospel.

Of course, this could be because the Gospels as we know it were extracted from a larger pool and made cannonical, while the others were put aside.

......

In reality, my speculation was false, there is no "later on" in the article, although the idea introduced in this article is reinforced by other pages on this site.
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Doctor X
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Post by Doctor X »

For an example, there's no instance I know of where Jesus is one place in one Gospel timeline, and in a different place in another Gospel.
From the beginning . . . in Mt Junior is born in one year . . . and in Lk he is born in another year roughly ten years later. I gather that would serve as ". . . one place in one Gospel timeline, and in a different place in another Gospel."

The journey narratives are also contradictory.

Mt and Lk both use Mk as a source, so they often follow his "time-line" but not all of the time. As above, they present different time lines and journeys--Mk has no birth narrative.

In Jn he never actually gets baptised. His narratives are vastly different as well.

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RedShift
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Post by RedShift »

This is all very interesting. Earthborn, your piece was especialy helpful.

Back in high school/university when I was a Christian (oh, I was so much older then ... ) one of the favourite "logical arguments" was the "Mad, Bad or God." one. That is, Jesus was either one of three things

Mad, I mean the bloke claimed to be the Son of God and to be able to do miracles. That's pretty loony. But, hang on, there were EYE WITNESSES to these miracles, and 500 people agreeing on something is pretty rare. So we can be confident these miracles happened. Therefore, Jesus wasn't mad.

Bad, because lying to people, telling them you're the Messiah when you ain't is pretty bad. But his disciples followed him to their own deaths, they martyred themselves because of their belief in him. Why would you do that for a bad person? So Jesus can't have been bad.

God, Jesus said he was the Son of God and Salvation was through him alone. He definately said that, so if he wasn't mad or bad then what he said must've been, you know, true.

Simple really.

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exarch
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Post by exarch »

RedShift wrote:Back in high school/university when I was a Christian (oh, I was so much older then ... ) one of the favourite "logical arguments" was the "Mad, Bad or God." one. That is, Jesus was either one of three things
Ah, yes, as a source of logical fallacies, the "mad, bad or god" quote definitely has potential :D
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Post by Andalyn »

viscousmemories wrote:Many good points have already been made. I would add (or reiterate, in case I missed someone else saying this):
Proving Christianity false could be done, for example, by simply producing the body of Jesus. If it could be proven that Jesus never did rise from the dead, then all of Christianity is proven false.
This, I believe, is the logical fallacy begging the question. Even if they had made an effort to defend the claim that "all of Christianity [would be] proven false" by proving that Jesus didn't rise from the dead, it still doesn't follow that producing his body disproves his resurrection. All it disproves is that his physical body was sucked up into heaven after his resurrection. I can easily imagine the argument being made that his spirit was sucked up and his body left behind.
This is what I thought as well. It would be very easy to alter the goal posts, so to speak to refer to the resurrection as his soul returning to life - leaving the mortal coil behind.

Unfortunately, the Bible itself if I recall claims that the body of Jesus was no longer in the cave after or just before the resurrection. The Bible (I believe - I just don't have the energy to look it up right now) claims that the "body of Christ" had risen etc.

I suppose that this would only result in believers claiming that the Bible cannot be understood without faith, has different meanings, claim "body" equals "soul", or some such other shell game. :)
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Post by viscousmemories »

Andalyn wrote:This is what I thought as well. It would be very easy to alter the goal posts, so to speak to refer to the resurrection as his soul returning to life - leaving the mortal coil behind.
Right.
Unfortunately, the Bible itself if I recall claims that the body of Jesus was no longer in the cave after or just before the resurrection. The Bible (I believe - I just don't have the energy to look it up right now) claims that the "body of Christ" had risen etc.
I'm pretty sure that's true. Okay here's another way around it:

1. Jesus was killed
2. He was entombed
3. He rose
4. He visited friends
5. He got sucked up into heaven
6. His spirit remains in heaven
7. His body was dumped back in another (or the same) tomb

As far as I know sequence of events would jive with Christian belief while allowing for the possbility of us finding his body.
I suppose that this would only result in believers claiming that the Bible cannot be understood without faith, has different meanings, claim "body" equals "soul", or some such other shell game. :)
And then there's always that. :)

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Brown
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Post by Brown »

How about this as a testable proposition:

Jesus is quoted as saying, "Ask and you shall receive." This sentiment is attributed to Jesus in Matt. 21:22, Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14, John 15:7 and John 16:23. It also appears in 1 John 3:22.

In other words, the New Testament in general, and Jesus in particular, promises that sincere prayer produces tangible, observable results. This is still considered to be part of the beliefs of many (if not most) Christians.

Jesus suggests (perhaps hyperbolically) that praying can move a mountain. A double-blind test could be devised in which something considerably smaller is to be moved by the power of prayer.

There will be those who will say that God should not be tested in such a fashion. But there is biblical precedent for a test of divine power. 1 Kings 18 describes the famed "Contest on Mt. Carmel," in which Elijah performed an experiment that showed the people that the Lord, not Baal, was really the almighty one.