Christianity and falsifiability

 photo church_of_nativity_zps7syqbgzu.jpg
Church of Annunciation, Bethlehem



Often Christian apologists will say I can't prove that God exists but you can't prove he does not exit. The problem is unless there are conditions under which something could be disproved then it can't be proven, Thus people sometimes begin to think an idea that can't be falsified is not rational. But even though God per se can't be falsified does that mean Christianity can't be falsified?

I think being falsifiable is only important if one is trying to persuade others of the truth content of a proposition. The truth if a religion is a phenomenological apprehension and an existential matter. Thus it transcends the kind of propositional proof one strives for in debate. If one insists that only a proportional form of truth is sound then Christianity is falsifiable on three ways: (1) In terms of God correlates (Schleiermacher's co- determinate) (2) or in terms of certain aspects of belief that serve as propositional tests such as the resurrection the empty tomb. (3) Or in terms of John Hick's eschatological verification (in other words you find out when you die).


To explain co-determinate it's the reason I call my book the trace of God. You can't prove God exists but if you can establish a God correlate, such an example is mystical experience. For Schleiermacher the feeling of utter dependence. Consider analogy you don't need a photograph of God if you can show his fingerprints.




I was planing on using an analogy for my argument about phenomenology. It was the logic of the lamp post. That's the idea that you drop your car keys in the dark, where do you start looking? Under the light. But if you didn't drop them under light, why would you look there? Because that's the only place you could find them. That would have fit the situation thus: my approach to God arguments is to claim the idea Schleiermacher's "co-determinate." That is, a "trace" or "finger print" or some aspect that goes along with God, but is not but which will be indicative of God. We can't prove God in an empirically verifiable way, so we do the next best thing, we "prove" the co-determinate.Of course, the 64, Million dollar question (yea,it's supposed to be 64,000,but inflation...) how do we know what the co-determinate is? But let's bracket that for now, I'm still working on what's wrong with the analogy.


So the idea is we prove what we can, we look under the lamp post. The problem is, the lamp post is also what empiricism is doing. The empiricists,the scientific reductionist, (ie skeptics) are looking at what they can see and nothing more. The conclude on the basis of a limited and narrow range of data that there can't be anything else out there in the dark but that which they see in this mall patch of light. I was in a quandary. Should I re-shape the analogy? Should I find a new analogy, does this mean that there is no real difference in the phenomenological approach and the empirical scientific (skeptical) approach? Before I go any further let me qualify that I use the term "scientific" operationally. I am not saying that all scientific thinking is skeptical and anti-religious. I am just using that phrase here for the purposes of describing the opposition in terms they like to see themselves.


Let's ask ourselves what is the basic difference in what the empiricists (inductive scientific thinkers) are doing and what the phenomenologist is doing? The empiricists are restricting what they look for to that which can be statistically recorded. That's how inductive reasoning works, they have to be able to make statistical averages, and they figure the probabilistic give them enough weight that they don't to prove 1x1 corrolations, they can rest upon the stronger statistical consolations. But the problem is that a lot of things far between the cracks.


On average men are taller and physically stronger than women. There are women who are taller than me, women who are stronger than me. There are women who can beat the you know what out of me. If we made a statistical law that "men are taller and strong than women" man women would fall between the cracks, there would be many distinctions. Well this get's scientific materialists in trouble they try to apply their method to ruling out miracles. They have to place 'the miracle' in the category of "that which does not happen" because they have ruled out all the instances of them, because they don't happen. So they are actually arguing in a circle. The Lourdes miracles are notable exceptions which fall bellow the materilsts radar. The phenomenoloigist is not doing this. The idea of phenomenology is that we allow the sense data to determine the categories. In other words, we say "I am meeting a woman who taller and stronger than I am, I wont make a law like statement based upon statistical averages about the reality size and strength of genders."


So I guess one way I could alter my analogy would be to say that the empiricist has a pre conceived notion of what the key must look like. You describe it to him, but he has his fixed idea, so even if he sees it he wont pick it up because he's determined it has to fit a certain shape. Moreover, the phenomenologist says "the key could be in the dark, in fact the key probably is in the dark. If nothing else we will just rule out the key being in the light." But the empiricist says "no, our understanding of the lighted areas tells everything we need to know about the dark areas. So if there is no key in the lighted area, there no key in the dark area.


Of course I've made my materialist unnecessarily stupid because most of them are going to complicate things by being much smarter than that. But that's a simplistic example of what I mean (any resemblance between my hypothetical empiricist and actual posters on the CARM board is purely a matter of opinion). So while methodologies choose fields in which a co-determinate can be found, one has a preconceived set of assumptions about what that something is, and about what the territory we cannot investigate is like, and the other does not.


Now how do we know the co-detemrinate? Schleiermacher saw it as the feeling of utter dependence, because the object or corollary of having such a feeling was the thing that evokes the feeling. Just feelings of sublimity imply that one encounters the sublime, feelings of love imply that there is a beloved, so feelings of utter dependence imply that there is a universal necessity upon which the live world and worlds are supremely utterly dependent. We can also include mystical experience and life transformation because these are part and parcel of what is meant by the idea of religion and the divine. As far back as we can dig for artifacts we seem to find some form of mystical experience at the heart of all organized religion. So we can conclude that God, religion, and life transformation always go hand in hand. The studies themselves tell us that life transformation always accompanies dramatic experiences which are understood as and which evoke a strong sense of the Holy. Is this really phenomenological? We can screw up our phenomenological credentials by responding to it in a non phenomenological way. But it is the product of the phenomenological method, because it derives from observation of the phenomena and allowing the phenomena to tell us what categories to group the data into.


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