Science, Religion,
And Testable Claims
Jeff Calhoun

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Desederata"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Saturday, November 18, 2000 4:45 PM

Some claims of some religions are not testable, but other claims can be falsified (verified or refuted) very easily. We learn about Heaven and Hell from, among other sources, the Bible. We cannot test whether a Heaven or Hell exists, but we can test other claims made in the Bible.

Jesus, for example, says that the mustard seed is "the smallest of all seeds," but the orchid seed is much smaller than the mustard seed. Acts 1:12 says that Olivet is "a Sabbath-day's journey" from Jerusalem, but it is just outside the wall and hardly a Sabbath-day's journey! Mark has Jesus going from Tyre through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee via Decapolis: Tyre is to the north on the Mediterranean Sea, while Decapolis is to the south of the Sea of Galilee; as C. Dennis McKinsey says, "It would be like going from St. Louis to Washington D.C., while going north through Milwaukee and south through Atlanta." I Kings 17:3 says that the brook Cherith "is east of the Jordan" but all Bible maps put it west of the Jordan. And then there's the whole business of the Creation myth and the Noah's flood tale. And let's not even mention that the Earth is a globe, and is not a flat affair having a lid ("firmament") set upon it with water above the firmament! In other words, accuracy concerning physically verifiable claims is not the Bible's strong point.

Since the Bible makes so many mistakes regarding falsifiable claims, we don't need to believe the untestable claims of the Bible.

Now, even if all the Bible's falsifiable claims were somehow verified (or, rather, if some alleged scripture made testable claims that were, in fact, all verified by science), this does not make the unverifiable claims any more verifiable. We can write off all the claims of any so-called scripture if it makes claims that we find to be falsehood, but a perfect record in this respect would never verify any of the unverifiable claims. We're dealing with a one-way street, here; we can instantly write off any allegedly infallible source shown to have one falsehood, but even the most physically accurate source cannot make trustworthy claims regarding the unverifiable.

Thus, I prefer to call all unverifiable claims what they are: unverifiable claims.

As for brainwashing, the best piece I've seen on this subject is Edmund Cohen's The Mind of the Bible Believer.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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