Saturday, October 21, 2006

Falsifiability is God

Human understanding is not absolute. Truth is. If our belief in a geocentric solar system is pitted against the fact of a heliocentric solar system, heliocentricity remains true, despite our belief to the contrary. Truth also trumps human ignorance. If we know nothing of a planet orbiting another sun, it's existence remains true despite our unawareness. And indeed, on most matters we are ignorant.

Human observation, while imperfect, can provide reasonable evidence of truth. Evidence successfully obtained through repeatable experimentation can be said to be "true" to a certain extent (significant figures, error, etc.).

Given these circumstances, we are very likely to often find evidence contrary to or beyond the scope of our understandings. And indeed we often do.

Science is based solely on evidence. Science is necessarily falsifiable. All scientific theories seek to be disproved by evidence. Theories are modified, discarded, and created to fit our changing corpus of evidence. Thusly through science we learn via trial-and-error.

Religion is based solely on divine documents. Religion is necessarily unfalsifiable. All religions rely on the absolute and exclusive truth of their doctrine. When presented with contradictory evidence, a religion must (a) reject the evidence, (b) concede the absolute authority of its religious documents, (c) admit to "human error" or "metaphor" in its religious documents. In each of those situations:
A) The religion's point of view appears ever more absurd as humanity's talent for observation improves and contrary evidence mounts.
B) The religion violates the fundamental tenant of unfalsifiability and becomes completely defunct.
C) The religion calls into question all of its doctrine. How is one to know what is correctly interpreted and what is not and how does one know with what confidence a particular doctrine is interpreted and on whose authority are such things to be believed.

And indeed religions often face contrary evidence.

There are multiple religions which claim truth at the falsehood of all other religions. None of these religions holds a majority of the human population among their believers. No religion can therefor claim authority by belief ("it is believed, therefor it is true") because by that logic, all religions are made wrong by the disbelief in any one religion by a majority of humanity. Most religions possess supposedly divine documents. No evidence exists of these documents' divinity and all are of decidedly un-divine authorship (human). No religion can therefor claim authority by divine document since all religions claim that authority with equal evidence ("we say so").

Religion is therefor a most absurd means by which to discover truth. Science is, at least, a start.