Imagine climbers discover a truck on the summit of Mount Everest. We all acknowledge the extreme unlikelihood of such a state of affairs. There are few coherent materialistic explanations for this discovery, and all of them are highly improbable. However, what if Superman placed the truck on the mountain? Sure, many do not believe in the existence of Superman, but there is nothing logically incoherent about Superman dropping a truck on the summit of Mount Everest if he so desired. And Superman is unquestionably cool. So let’s go with that explanation. However, Superman is not the only theory out there. Those who believe in flying vampires offer an alternative explanation. They assert vampires have dropped the truck on the summit. You are not sure how to respond…until it is discovered that the cargo of the truck was garlic. We all know that vampires can’t stand garlic, so the vampire theory is self-defeating. It fails under its own assumptions. And now, since a competing theory has been removed from the table of proposed explanations, our logically coherent Superman explanation becomes more probable. Right?
If religion X is demonstrated to be false, This does not increase the probability Christianity is true, in spite of claims to the contrary by Christian leaders.
Many Christian leaders today are focused, not on presenting the Christian Gospel, but instead on debunking various competing theories of reality. For each of these competing theories they claim to have debunked, they follow up by suggesting that the debunking has made Christianity more probable. Does this make sense?
Let’s consider how many possible logically coherent theories there are that are impossible to test. Just as anyone can invent another superhero or mythical creature such as Superman and vampires who are, with their special powers, able to escape the scrutiny of science, anyone can invent yet another logically coherent but inscrutable God and an accompanying theology. That makes the number of possible Gods infinite. And that means, when you demonstrate another God to be incoherent, it does nothing to make your own God more probable. No proposed theory in the intrinsically infinite set of untestable proposed theories becomes more probable when you eliminate a competing proposed theory.
Yet, this appears to be a major tactic of many Christian leaders today. They are perhaps betting on the notion that most Christians will not question their suggestion that Christianity becomes more probable the more competing ideologies they debunk.
So, no proposed theory in the intrinsically infinite set of untestable proposed theories becomes more probable when you eliminate a competing proposed theory. This is true even if you add testable proposed theories to that infinite set of proposed theories. Testable theories of reality are subject to the risk of being debunked by tests, but they also enjoy something untestable theories don’t. The more the tests against their claims support their claims, the more probable they become.
So does the incoherency of garlic-hating vampires flying a garlic-filled truck to the top of a mountain make the Superman explanation more probable? No. Most rational persons would agree that, in spite of the oddity of finding a truck on the summit of Mount Everest, the correct explanation is most likely a material explanation, even if we never discover that material explanation. We don’t maintain that Superman did it until we find out differently. So also with Gods. We don’t assume some unsubstantiated and untestable God did this or that until we find a material cause.
(See also #17, #24, #39 and “Supplementary J”)
Is Christianity testable? Or is every possible event we encounter in our realty both consistent with the absence of the Christian God, and able to be explained away by yet another unsubstantiated and untestable entity such as sin, demons and angels?
(See “Supplementary K” on the falsifiability of Christianity.)