Yes, Christianity Is Falsifiable (And, Yes, That’s a Good Thing)

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If something is falsifiable, then that means there are ways we would know if it were not true. For example, if someone said there is an intangible, invisible unicorn in the room that could not be sensed in any way, shape, or form, that’s the kind of thing that is unfalsifiable. There are also a lot of things in the real world that are unfalsifiable such as Islam and religions in general whose adherents always find some reason why evidence or arguments which seem to contradict their religion can never be right.

Skeptics regularly claim that Christianity is among these unfalsifiable religions, but that is not the case. Unlike other religions which are based on mystical revelation of some sort which can always be shoe-horned to fit our knowledge of the world, Christianity rests on historical claims which could be proven false.

At the core of these historical claims are that a man named Jesus lived, publicly performed miracles, died publicly, and rose from the dead then made public appearances. If there was no testimony from the region and time in which these events allegedly took place, we could take that as evidence which could falsify these historical claims. Or, if the religion did not originate in the region in which these events took place (where there would be abundant testimony to contradict these historical claims), then this would be evidence which seems to falsify Christianity. Additionally, if the earliest propagators of Christianity could reasonably be shown to have ulterior motives in spreading their new religion, this would suggest that the historical events to which they testified may have never happened. Of course, if the earliest testimony had no general consensus on what happened, this would also be problematic.

But the historical evidence for Christianity actually suggests the opposite. Historical records point to the conclusion that Christianity originated in the time and region immediate to the purported events, our earliest testimony of these events comes from the time and region in which they allegedly happened, the people giving their testimony seemed willing to suffer and devotedly spread their accounts in the face of immense difficulty, and their testimony fits together in the way we would expect several witnesses to report the same events. If these things were proven historically false, then Christianity would be in great trouble.

Skeptics may still complain that the claims of Christianity cannot be falsified through repeated testing as if Christianity could be scientifically verified. But such a complaint misses the entire point of historical evidence by thrusting scientific standards upon it.

This is a grave mistake which assumes that scientific knowledge is the only knowledge worth having, and applying the same standards elsewhere would cost us all historical knowledge including even the most recent and certain historical events which we cannot repeatedly test and verify. For example, we would have to reject our knowledge of things as recent as World War II, the Cold War, and Watergate. This seems absurd since we have such immense testimony pertaining to these things, but if our standard is repeated testing and verification then any and all historical statements of fact fall short.

The simple reality is that Christianity, or any historical matter, is, by definition, not scientific. It is historical. Saying that something is not scientific carries immense negative connotations. But not all knowledge is scientific, and it is absurd to claim that all knowledge should be.

Like any other matter of history, Christianity can indeed be falsified and this testifies to the historical evidence on which it rests. If the historical evidence was any other way, Christianity could potentially be seriously undermined. This is comforting to the mindful Christian since it demonstrates that Christianity does indeed rest on the truth or falsity of historical evidence, and that evidence is very strong.

Kyle Huitt
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Kyle Huitt

Part of the multitude that has lost their faith, but part of the few that has returned to it. This blog is my attempt to describe why I returned to the faith, and to maybe prevent somebody else from leaving it in the first place. Studying philosophy and history at Hillsdale College. Member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
Kyle Huitt
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