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Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion

This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.

Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.

This is what it looks like:

A few months ago, I was emceeing an apologetics event in Dallas hosted by the Christian Renaissance Apologia Conference. The scholars present were Dan Wallace, Darrel Bock, Gary Habermas, and Craig Evans. Each of these are men that I admire and trust, as I believe they are seeking truth and not a confirmation of their prejudice. I asked them during the conference if there are any other religions or worldviews that they knew of that had apologetics conferences the way Christianity does. In other words, can other religions pull together enough objective intellectual backing to form a solid defense for their faith? Each of them responded with the same: no. They went on to express the same sentiments of my present argument. “Even atheists,” Habermas said, “have nothing but ‘negative apologetics’.” In other words, Christianity has a significant amount of historically verifiable data which forms the bedrock of the faith. This is “positive apologetics.” An atheist conference, for example, does nothing but belittle the claims of other religions (primarily Christianity). “There is no positive defense that one can give for naturalism,” Habermas concluded. Therefore, the only thing available to the atheist is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Christianity has.

This makes a lot of sense. If I decided to start a religion, deceptively or not, I would not make false claims to recent historic events that did not happen. Why? Because I know those claims could be tested. Also, I would not give details about the time, place, and people involved. More than that, I would not invite contemporaries to investigate these claims. For example, if I were to say today that in 1965 there was a man named Titus who was born in Guthrie, OK and traveled about Oklahoma City doing many miracles and gaining a significant following, this could easily be falsified. I would not say that Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, along with Tom Coburn, US Senator from Oklahoma, had Titus electrocuted. I would not detail that the electrocution was in Bricktown on January 13, 1968 at 9am. I wouldn’t claim that Titus rose from the dead and gained a significant following throughout Oklahoma City which has spread across America. Why wouldn’t I make these claims as the foundation of my new religion? Because they can be easily tested and falsified. This religion could not possibly get off the ground. If I were to make up a religion, all the events which support the religion (if any) would be private and beyond testing.

This is why you don’t have religions based on historic events. They are all, with the exception of Christianity, based on private encounters which cannot be falsified or subjective ideas which are beyond inquiry. The amazing thing about Christianity is that there is so much historic data to be tested. Christianity is, by far, the most falsifiable worldview there is. Yet, despite this, Christianity flourished in the first century among the very people who could test its claims. And even today, it calls on us to “come and see” if the claims are true.

The only reason why I can say Christianity survived in the midst of such historic volatility is because it is true. And this is exactly what I would expect if there were an all-powerful God who created and loves this world. When he intervenes, he makes a significant enough footprint that historic inquiry is demanded. Think about that next time you are critiquing the Christian faith. The only reason you can is because it is the only religion that has opened itself up to such critique.  Simply put, Christianity is the most falsifiable religion there is and yet it has survived. Why?

144 Responses to “Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion”

  1. Myself, I see Judeo-Christianity as the only historical and thus justifiable religion! But of course the historical here, is part of the biblical salvation-history itself, the Salvation-History of God! “Elohim”.. It indicates His relation to mankind as His “creatures” (2 Chron. 18: 31), where it stands in contrast with Jehovah as indicating (“covenant relationship”). “helped him”: i.e. Jehoshaphat, for Jehovah was his Covenant God. “God moved them.” Heb. Elohim. He stood, to the Syrians, only in the relation of the Creator to His creatures.

  2. I believe there is only one other faith besides Mainstream Christianity that makes a good case for their faith. Judaism makes a very good argument. In many ways a much better argument.

  3. I would hope that proper Judeo-Christianity is inclusive of that, i.e. Judaism! (Note John 4: 22)

  4. Having decided that Jesus dying on the cross and then rising is falsifiable, wouldn’t the next step be to attempt to falsify it?

    The fact that this one event is to some degree falsifiable doesn’t mean it is any more likely to be true. One has to actually attempt to falsify it. Look for inconsistencies in the accounts, proof those people existed, didn’t have a vested interest in the events, were in that region etc.

    Otherwise all you’re pointing out is that the people who made up the Christ story came up with a much better way to sell their story then the people who made up the stories in these other faiths. When people hear a good story, they love to tell it as if it happened to them. While this results in more “witnesses”, their accounts would probably vary. Like in any urban legend.

    • People have set out to falsify Christianity for centuries – even the Bible records Jewish leaders trying to threaten and kill the apostles who were claiming to have seen Jesus alive (and no one dies for something they know is false). If you want to read a detailed account from a modern journalist who set out to disprove (falsify) Christianity, I recommend Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”.

  5. Jidaism’s primary claim historically has always been the Exodus. God called on his people continually to look at this footprint. However, as justifiable as it was back then, it is hard to substantiate today to the degree of the resurrection.

  6. Aeg,yes we should attempt to fakery it. This called critical studies

    Falsefyibility does not meant that the subject at hand lives or does by its falsej

  7. It simply means rhsvhguy. (Edit. I have no idea what I meant to say here!)

  8. “When people hear a good story, they love to tell it as if it happened to them.”

    A truism, AEG, but an “urban legend” theory is insufficient to explain the amount of persecution the first Christians faced and the martyrdom that their leaders experienced. For thousands of profoundly monotheistic Jewish people to begin, overnight, to worship a human being . . . it gives one pause.

  9. The weight of historical evidence to support the claims and life event of Jesus Christ is overwhelming. Look at sources outside the Canon of Scripture. The writings of Josephus, the Quoran, and the many references to the existence of Jesus. The weight of the evidence is there for one to test the claims of Scripture.

    How do you deal with a risen Savior?

    All other religions have either a philosophy or leaders in the grave. Dead like those who came before us. In Christianity there is verifiable historical evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and over five hundred watched Him ascend into the clouds. What is curious is that these accounts are found both in Scripture, and popular literature.

    It’s not rocket science folks. Test it out for yourselves.

  10. Christianity is not a Religion, its a way of life. Jesus never came to make a new Religion,but came to show us the way of life, a life of Love.

    • Religion is mans attempt to reconcile himself to God. Christianity, on the other hand, is God reconciling man to Him. Big difference.

      • “Herman”, You know, I used to hold to this catchy little concept myself. It summarizes well the idea of the uniqueness of Christianity. Trouble is, when one actually studies religions comparatively, steps back and takes as objective as possible look at Christianity, its earliest literature (the NT) and origins (mostly via the NT, but with some related sources), this neat little idea completely breaks down. Still, Christianity has much of great value, I say as now a progressive Christian who no longer can affirm “Christianity is the only way to access God (or be ‘saved’)”.

  11. Amen there TOA! Our spiritual and finally physical Exodus!

  12. Clint Roberts July 9, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Ironically (and sadly), people do not take the time to recognize this, and as a result end up foolishly seeing falsifiability as a weakness. Muslims & Mormons take comfort (an intellectually cowardly comfort, we might say) in the non-falsifiability of their Scriptures as they see it. They like everything to rest on the testimony of one man.

    And they quite stupidly promote misleading popular ‘Ehrmanic’ charges against the Bible for having so many differences(variants) in manuscripts. But as every esteemed scholar at your aforementioned conference would so easily explain, the manuscript differences actually testify to the unbelievable number of manuscripts in the first place. This ‘weakness’ turns out to be a profound strength, and this ‘problem’ one that they could only dream of having, as it is a problem that only a historically credible religion is capable of having.

  13. Personally, I think it is a poor choice of words, i.e. “falsifiability”, for Christianity as Historical! Again the “Incarnational” needs to be central, and always the major focus! The Church of Christ is still: “the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3: 15) And not ideas and teachings of “evidentialism”, by themselves or alone! WE must seek to BE this Church Catholic & Reformed, as again Christ is both the Logos & the Rhema! Of course I am a classic Anglican, and somewhat EO friendly. Indeed we need the whole Church Historical!

    The doctrine of the “Church” has gotten lost today, especially with many so-called Evangelicals! And we cannot really preach and teach Christ without it!

  14. Btw, just a friendly and historical note, but as our EO friends teach: Christianity can really only be expressed by dogmatic theology! And here really is the greatest evidence itself, with the Mystical Body of Christ!

  15. “And here really is the greatest evidence itself, with the Mystical Body of Christ!”

    This is far too esoteric for me. As well, it does little, for me, in setting Christianity apart from the claims of any other religious body. The incarnation demands historic inquiry. It is only because of the incarnation that a post such as this can be written.

  16. Indeed the Reformers were “Churchmen” and not really anything else, even their so-called “humanism” was subject here, for here they were subservient to the great Revelation and Holy Scripture of God! The modern so-called Protestant and certainly evangelical churches have quite lost that today. And the true “Mystical Body of Christ” was never “esoteric” for the top-tier Reformers!

    Btw, seeking to work-thru Barth again, shows indeed he was closer to this “Mystical Body”, as were many of his friends, Georges Florovsky, the great Russian EO, as too Von Balthasar, the large-minded Roman Catholic. And as too the great little man (large in Christian thought), C.H. Dodd! Indeed WE have truncated ourselves today, with the basic loss of the great Mystical Body of Christ! But thankfully the Church’s great history is still here!

  17. Good information here. This is the type of information that many need to read. I suggest posting some of this information on YouTube where the athiests and Bible haters place comments. I do this quite often myself.

  18. The old metaphysics let to a chasm between logical regression to the mystical transcendence of The Supreme Being; idealism could never get the Divine mystery down from His lofty throne to examine Him either epistemologically or logically; the Incarnation did both; thus the existential fusion of the transcendent Spirit with humanity in and through Christ, the Son, bridged the gap to maintain a dynamic cognitive tension between the Other (God, as the given) and the familiar (man, as the recipient). Thus, the perfect analogy through which we best filter our theological process is through Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our only Savior. All else is at best just suggestive.

  19. Clint Robert, Do the Mormons bring charges against the Bible for so many variants? The Muslims, yes, but I thought the Mormons gave strong support to the KJV the way we have it today. I could be wrong.

  20. Amen there James-the-lesser! Sounds nicely Barthian to me! ;) And btw, Barth surely tends to fill the gap towards the visible & historical church! A Church both visible and invisible, the latter where “Christ Jesus” sits above, on the Throne of God In Glory! (Heb. 9: 24)

  21. Myself, I can see but one apologetic for both believers and non-believers, and that is always “Christ” Himself, and His historic Church!

  22. Gregory S. Gill July 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    The bible is not falsifiable, you either believe it or you don’t. The bible is the axiom or postulate of Christianity and axioms or postulates are not falsifiable you either believe or disbelieve them. History can’t be properly used to judge the bible or that would make history to be the standard over the bible, instead its the bible that judges history. Its actually the bible that falsify everything else.

    The bible is of ultimate reality, how then can ultimate reality be falsify? What can be used to falsify ultimate reality? Nothing.

    Either The Holy Spirit cause one to believe or disbelieve the bible. I think Vincent Cheung, Gordon H. Clarke, John William Robbins, and Thomas W. Juodaitis got this point right.

  23. The greatest evidence that Christianity is true would be for believers in Christ to actually live out his teachings in their daily lives.

    Can you imagine what would happen if those who love him ‘kept his commandments?’

    The argument could go something like this: there was a historical Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God, and that by obeying his teachings our personal lives would be transformed.

    The proof: take any group of Christians anywhere and compare them to any group of non-Christians of any faith or non-faith, in their treatment of family, neighbours, friends or strangers and note the difference.

    I know, I need to develop the theory some more. Suffice it to say though that several interested observers, have noted the difference between Jesus and his modern day followers. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi is supposed to have said words to the effect that if he could ‘find a group of persons who lived like Jesus he would join them’.

    The most effective way to ‘give away’ the Christian faith is to “keep it’.

  24. Hi Glenn

    Yes, the Mormons, in their thirteen Articles of Faith, say they trust the Bible ‘insofar as it has been correctly translated.’ They only use the KJV and if it contradicts the (later written) Book of Mormon, Pearly of Great Price or Doctrine and Covenants – or any of the statements made by the Prophets (leaders) throughout the Mormon history – then the Bible is said to be mis-translated.

  25. “This is why you don’t have religions based on historic events. They are all, with the exception of Christianity, based on private encounters which cannot be falsified or subjective ideas which are beyond inquiry.”

    ACTUALLY, the believer in the Christian faith has to trust in a private encounter Mary & the disciples had with Jesus’s magic floating corpse, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically.

    So, much like how you reject Mormonism and Islam by the token that they are not historically testable, Christianity itself can be rejected by that very same token.

    There is no more proof that Jesus Christ rose from the dead than there is of a giant teapot orbiting Venus at such an angle that we will never see it.

  26. Judith Warren-Brown July 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Luke said that the Christian faith has to trust in a private encounter Mary and the disciples had with Jesus after his resurrection. The disciples told of their experiences and in the end were martyred. Why would they go to their death if they did not have these experiences?

    • And if we were only talking about one private encounter that would be a valid point. But Christ ministry, death, resurrection, and assension were said to be attested by hundreds. On cant just make that up and expect it to fly. The very fact that such a ridiculous and bizarre story not only survived but flourished is significant evidence that the story must be true.

      Any parallel asserted fails in a major criteria. Either it did not survive, there was no worldview changing significance (e.g. ceasar claimed to be god), or it is beyond falsifiability (which would be the reason for the failure).

  27. Because good liars tend to see their lies out to the end

  28. Matthew, the non-Apostle July 9, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Luke, the claim is that Jesus was seen of many people, and specifically more than 40 at one time.

  29. Key word being “SAID to have been witnessed by hundreds.”

    That does NOT mean that the events were actually witnessed by hundred of people.

    Hundreds of people have claimed to have seen aliens and UFOs. Does that PROVE beyond a reasonable doubt that aliens exist?

    It hardly does.

  30. GoldCityDance July 9, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I am a former Buddhist (Mahayana sect), now saved by God’s grace. I think the core of Buddhism actually has historical claims which can be tested. Several historical questions that Buddhists need to address:

    1. Was Siddhartha a real, historical person?

    2. The central claim of Buddhism is that Buddha said he has achieved enlightenment and therefore, we are to follow his path. What historical evidence are there for Buddha’s claim to enlightenment? What historical evidence are there that enlightenment is the true path?

    3. How historically reliable are the claims of miracles surrounding Siddhartha? (e.g. birth of a talking, walking baby)

    4. How historically reliable are the Buddhist scriptures that record Buddha’s enlightenment and his teachings? (e.g. number of extant manuscripts, how long after Buddha did the disciples start recording, internal and external consistencies, etc)

    Try looking up answers for the above and compare them with the answers provided by Christianity. Buddhism may perhaps be as falsifiable as a Christianity, but it definitely will not survive any such tests!

  31. I am a minister of the Gospel, I don’t totally agree that Christianity is the only defensible religion in comparison to others. Quite the opposite, we base all our “facts” on what was written by men who walked with Jesus and allow our “faith” to be the ingredient that gives their accounts meaning and validity. All religions are grounded on the “faith” factor, if we Christians relied on what we can prove, then we would only be able to tell people what we know in our hearts to be true and not be able to provide empirical data to validate our beliefs. That’s why the Bible contends that without “faith” it is impossible to please ( or even believe in) God. Spiritual guidance from the Holy Spirit is what keeps me grounded and secure in my beliefs, not so called “facts”, for we walk by faith and not by sight.

  32. The problem is…

    There is no contemporary writing of Christ (non biblical authors that wrote of him within a century of his life). And since the bible was managed by a group of followers who were on a mission (the great commission) to spread the word, it must be considered to be biased.

    No physical evidence means it cannot be scientifically proven.
    No eye witness accounts (according to modern legal standards) means it cannot be claimed to be true based on testimony.
    No contemporary accounts means it cannot be historically argued.

    Seems to be that at thing only needs to be falsified once it has some reasonable claim of validity.

  33. The key issues when historicity is claimed are 1) does the claimed event, if true, demand one believe in a transcendent cause, 2) does the event has witnesses/contemporaries that record the event as factual (this is why NT textual criticism is so important), and 3) is there historical impact (e.g. life change, converts, hostility, etc.) fitting for the event.

    I don’t find any other religion, ancient or modern, to come close to meeting this criteria. Again, the explanation is simple as monumental claims are easily falsified ivy contemporaries.

    Christianity is unique here. Of course, this does not make it true. One has to put the central claims of Christianity to these tests.

    1) The central claim of Christ’s resurrection points to the authenticity of his teaching which are not simply philosophical, but ontological. “Who do you say that he is?” becomes the key question. And he taught that he was God.
    2) The record of these events date back to within a decade of the historic claims which makes them authentic in their claims and admissible as historic theories.
    3) The impact and rise of Christianity fits the bill. Christianity sees these claims as central and necessary to commit to. If these claims were true you would expect significan conversions and passion for the spread of the message. This exactly we see and it is hard (if not impossible) to give viable alternatives to the resurrection.

  34. I often tell people if they want to grow their faith significantly, just study all the alternative theories to the resurrection of Jesus. The sheer number of them is amazing. Nothing ever sticks as, from an intellectual point of view, it would take more blind faith to not believe than it does to believe. And remember, the presence of other possibilities does not equate to the presence of other probabilities.

  35. John, just about everyone, believer and non-believer, agree that the central message of the Christian faith (the death, burial, and resurrection) date back to within a decade of the event itself. First Cor 15 is normally the most substantial creed that most agree upon.

    And I do believe that these were eye witnesses, but even if I granted that they were not, we still have the same problem that such a story would not flourish due to its falsifiability.

    And concerning the need for more contemporary sources (and ones who did not have an agenda, this fails to acknowledge the sources we do have (which are many) and assumes that there could be an unbiased history concerning such a monumental event with monumental demands. It is evident that there were many who did not believe in the Christ story and came up with alternatives. I seriously doubt we could expect a source which believes the claims yet is not a biased follower.

    But, again, it is the sheer number of those who did convert to such a culturally bizarre tale as it would go against the grain of both Jewish culture and Greek. A dying God who hung on a tree is the last thing that would appeal to a Jew. And the Greeks hated the body and would have been repulsed by its resurrection. So from a marketing standpoint all of these guys stood behind the worst and must in attractive lie they could have made up. This, ironically, is a serious mark of historicity.

    Finally, the very fact that the Gospels are unnamed is also a mark of historicity. I write about this here.

  36. Please check out the video from Steven Hawking as he tries to answer about the existence of God in a very subtle way

  37. hahahaha you forget to mention the real religions of old pagan Europe. You also forgot a major part of the creation of the christian religion, modern Christianity is based of the bible and the bible wasnt created until 336 AD in Rome< During the rule of the famous pagan lord Constantine. Its truer that the bible was created based on the accounts of the apostles, but the accounts were selected in a meeting of a council (presided over by many pagan lords and a few of the christian minority[please note that these Christians where supposedly the people that fallowed the 12 disciples teachings]) the original idea of making Christianity the main religion of the collapsing Roman Empire was to stabilize the civil dis arrest of the Roman people due to the surge in the previously mentioned type of Christians. In order to make this new religion more acceptable to the pagans that didn't support the ways to the Christians the previously stated council warped the Jewish basis of the original Christianity to be more similar to that of the pagan religions that already existed within the Roman Empire (the Sabbath being on Sunday instead of Saturday, the divinity of Jesus and his relations with Mary Magdalene, etc…).

    • Fwduck,

      Who did you get this information from. Is is terribly wrong. Most of what you said would be rejected by both believing and unbelieving scholars. It sounds like your source is Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code?

      • And remember, Brown’s book is a fiction. Even Bart Erhman has repudiated many of you assumptions.

        And please inform me of a Roman parallel that claimed historic worldview alerting events and survived/survives.

  38. You are wrong that Joseph Smith had no witnesses to angelic revelation. Oliver Cowdry witnessed Peter James and John, and John the Baptist. He fell away from the church but never denied seeing it. The Book of Mormon actually starts with Three Witnesses and then Nine witnesses. But it’s great that someone who says you can do historical research on Christianity to validate or falsify it, would do the exact opposite thing on MOrmonism. Congratulations, you’re a hypocrite.

  39. You have a blind spot, btw. You forget that the story of Christianity began with a PRIVATE VISIT FROM A MESSENGER OF GOD. There was only one witness. Everyone had to take her (Mary’s) word for it. So your premise is already blown. Even Mary’s fiance didn’t believe it at first. If he didn’t, and had to take the rest on faith and ANOTHER PRIVATE VISIT FROM A MESSENGER OF GOD IN A DREAM (like “other” religions), then Christianity really isn’t that different from “other” religions. BTW, you should read some more CS Lewis, he would never make so obviously faulty a case on Christianity’s validity.

  40. A) This is not well researched. The writer hasn’t done a lick of real research, instead trusting the words of people who have a vested interest in Christianity being right.

    Also, the defense the writer did offer was a negative apologetics about other religions’ negative apologetics.

    for instance:

    “An atheist conference, for example, does nothing but belittle the claims of other religions (primarily Christianity). ‘There is no positive defense that one can give for naturalism,’ Habermas concluded. Therefore, the only thing available to the atheist is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Christianity has.”

    But if you switch the words Atheist and Christianity around, so that it reads “the only thing available to the christians is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Atheism has,” then the writer just described his own blog post’s logic–which is, by his own definition, a weak argument for a religion.

    B) Every prophet figure in every religion conducts his actions in public at some point. They have to to win the masses over somehow. The Quran’s narrative structure is a series of accounts by people who interacted with the Prophet. Buddha roamed the lands to show people the eightfold path.

    And as for prophets finding their information while isolated: Was anyone with Moses when he talked to a burning bush and found the 10 commandments?
    C) Many of the “older” religions have historical documentation. In fact, some of those religions simply don’t make sense without the historical context. See also: Hamurrabi Stele

    D) It’s fine to want to defend your faith. But this is a biased source. The writer has something to lose if he’s wrong. So do the biblical scholars. If you want good blogs about faith-reaffirmation, there are better ones out there that don’t rely on poorly composed logical fallacies.

    • Rhetoric,

      You make an assertion that is quite imbalanced concerning a “lick of research.” It evidences that you maybe the one who has more of an emotional investment in this. We need to try to stay balanced, watching the overstatement if this is going to be productive.

      A. There is nothing wrong with negative apologetics. The problem with a worldview is when that is all they have. If you were just to click on the apologetics category on this blog you will find that it is probably ninety percent positive apologetics. There is an incredible amount of evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the text of the NT, the resurrection of Christ, and the nature of Christ (once the first three are established.

      B. of couse there is. But that was not my point. The falsifiability does not come with issues that have no worldview-changing significance. The central event of Christianity is the death burial and resurrection of Christ. If that did not happen, then no other historical accounts matter, no matter how detailed. The central event of Islam are Muhammed’s encounters with angels which are private and beyond falsifiability.

      C. The same is true with all other central claims of other religions that have worldview-changing significance.

      D. Of course this is a biased post. I cannot step out of myself and put on a white coat and be completely objective. Neither can you as is evident from the tone of your rhetoric. But what we can do is do our best to understand and respond with as much balance as possible.

      The problem you seem to have with this post is that you, I assume, did not read it carefully enough as I was pretty clear that these events about which I speak must be central to the faith and have world-view changing significance.

      Could you at least admit that Christianity, as opposed to other religions, has worldview-changing claims embedded in significant historic details and that it is, at least, somewhat curious that such claims could be sustained when so bizzaire and falsifiable?

      If not, please give an example that truly parallels Christianity in terms of viability according to the criteria of this post.

  41. Noelle,

    This is about the central events being public. Of course there are hundreds of events in the Bible that are, by themselves, not falsifiable. For example, I would never claim that Balaam’s donkey talking is historically defensible, nor would I claim that Elisha’s ax head floating is as well. These are events that are believed only because much larger event justifies a belief in the others.

    The life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the most central event that Christians look toward. It was public. It was not the testimony of one man, or three men (whose testimony is inaccessible due to its singular source). We have claims that include times, dates, rulers, factions, and detailed places written within a generation of the events themselves and call on people to check out there veracity. This is much different than the central claims of Mormons which are beyond such testing due to their historically esoteric nature.

    Hope that makes sense and removes the charge of hupocricy. :-)

  42. Even If we believe each word in article above is correct there is one clause that raises question – Jesus himself said I am son of God however he never claims I am God. Who actually is God is still a mystery, No historical evidence on that.

  43. Indeed the more we press into the fields of the mere evidential, the more WE simply must be pushed along by the only historic reality we have, with too the Holy Scripture, and that is the Historic and Apostolic Church, (1 Tim. 3: 15-16 / Acts 2: 42 / Acts 15, etc.). This is, with Scripture, the only ground of the Reformers and the Reformation!

    Btw, this is where the Church has lost “ground”, and why many Christians are turning back to the High Church structure… Authority! Indeed, just where is it?

  44. Michael, it’s quite apparent that this kind of “historical, evidence-based” apologetics is satisfying for some people. But it has a number of serious flaws, of which I think part of you is aware. A much more logically and historically coherent approach does not deny the numerous problems in the NT texts re. “falsifiability” around the resurrection, nor the difficulties of verifying what may be historical in the OT.

    Many dedicated and studious believers follow the approaches I’m referring to, basically within “historical critical” method, them being more sophisticated than earlier “history of salvation” thinking, more spiritual than pure “historical Jesus” quests, in their earlier forms. (Schweitzer, 1967 – written 1951 – “… Primitive Christianity” is quite good, and many more recent works.) A bit more specifically, what I find important is to NOT superimpose our current concepts of falsifiability back onto ancient texts… tough for particularly lay people to grasp ancient literary genres, purposes, literacy issues, availability of texts, etc., etc. Historians and literary critics are important to look to (discerningly) here, and I find most biblical scholars not only weak in these areas but slow to look to the work of relevant
    scholarship not in their exact specialization. This HAS to be an interdisciplinary effort and seldom (though changing some lately) do Evangelical scholars take this approach.

    Process theology does, and while it seems complex for many folks, it (or something akin) actually manages to honor many of the factors you bring out, but without the distortions of forcing assumptions back onto the texts, as most “evidence-based/historical” apologetics does. It also accounts for much more of the diverse “data” or “voices” and theologies found in the Bible… much better than does traditional orthodoxy, in my heavily-studied opinion.

  45. Indeed once WE as the Church, and the People of God, loose the ground of traditional orthodoxy, and this is NOT “Fundamentalism”, but the historical Church, both visible and invisible, and the essence of the Ecumenical Councils and creeds (with the Word of God), we are on our way to certain apostasy and at least heterodoxy! One only has to look at what the so-called “emergent’s” have done to much of so-called evangelicalism!

  46. If Jesus was a god and really wanted to save the world, he would have appeared and delivered his Gospel personally to the whole world. He would not appear only to one small group of believers and one lone outsider, in one tiny place, just one time, two thousand years ago, and then give up. But if Christianity originated as a natural movement inspired by ordinary hallucinations (real or pretended), then we would expect it to arise in only one small group, in one small place and time, and especially where, as in antiquity, regular hallucinators were often respected as holy and their hallucinations believed to be divine communications. And that’s exactly when and where it began. The ordinary explanation thus predicts all we see, whereas the extraordinary explanation predicts things we don’t see at all

  47. Margaret,

    You’re on a valid, important “track” here; I agree in part. I’d encourage you to keep digging, if these issues intrigue you or you seek to influence traditional Christians. The “hallucination” claim will be impressive to few (or even remotely considered). For one, hallucination is not an appropriate term for what I think you are getting at… we don’t really have one, at least in English… some use “apparition” or “vision” as these avoid the more individual and pathological implication of “hallucination.” These terms are imprecise, too… I don’t think anyone knows the real nature of early disciples’ experiences of the “risen” Jesus. I see no real evidence to take it as encountering his special “quasi-physical” resurrected body. BUT, they seem, indeed, to have had profound experiences… Paul gives the only personal accounting, well later than the supposed Apostles’ (orig. 12) “visions.” Much of Christian theology has been built on his claimed “revelations” from Jesus, and he makes no claim of encountering Jesus physically re-embodied.

    If people are still following this thread, I’d imagine someone is composing a response to your “hallucination” claim, and may post it before mine appears. What I see as the root issue in your comment is that you follow a fully “naturalistic” paradigm. Traditional believers follow a “supernaturalist” one, and “never the twain shall meet.”

    As generally conceived, they ARE mutually exclusive. I’ve invested most of a lifetime learning/studying from both these paradigms and their “data points” (most heavily, Bible, psychology and theology, with other hard science and social science). Fortunately, there IS a “golden mean” alternative which honors data coming from one paradigm or the other, relatively equally: Process theology. You can start with the good Wikipedia summary and follow some of its many references to get a good intro. One of my fav’s is 114 pp: “Two Great Truths” by Griffin.

  48. This blog deletes and deletes, I have to get up and down as I write, as I am in the hospital (I’m a chaplain). When I come back now, twice the whole thing is gone! Amazing this so-called techno stuff! I can quite remember the good old snail mail days myself! I even remember writing “free” in the corner, no stamps needed in the Nam!

    Btw, the Body of the Risen Christ was no mere old body resuscitated, but a new body Resurrected! Both physical & spiritual! As Paul said! (1 Cor. 15: 42-44, etc.)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  6. On The Origin of Christianity vs. All Other Religions | Mariposa Reformed Baptist Church - July 12, 2013

    […] The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith. – Parchment & Pen Blog […]

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    […] on your point about falsifiability, I thought you might find this article of interest:http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2013/07/christianity-the-worlds-most-falsifiable-religion/ I disagree with it’s authors in that I do see some atheists trying to make a case for naturalism, […]

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    […] “Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion” by C. Michael Patton: “Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.” […]

  14. Around the web 8/5/2013 « The GeoChristian - August 5, 2013

    […] CHRISTIANITY — ROOTED IN REAL HISTORY — C. Michael Patton writes about how Christianity is based on events that happened in history in a way that other religions, such as Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even atheism, are not. Read about it on Parchment & Pen Blog: Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion. […]

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  16. Blog Casserole – 08/16/2013 | The Passionate Follower's Journal - August 19, 2013

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  17. Simply Jesus: On Miracles | Dead Heroes Don't Save - September 3, 2013

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