More Evidence that Young Earth Creationism Is Literally Unfalsifiable

Sure it is. Who told you that? Falsification is a tool that can be applied to any hypothesis, as long as there’s evidence germane to it.

It’s a claim about the history of the universe, earth, and life, not just human history. So one tests it using evidence about the history of the universe, earth, and life. As we do. Archaeology has some relevance, but so do astronomy, physics, geology, and biology.

This is a version of the creationist trope “Were you there?”, or the creationist division between “historical science” and “real science”. But in truth all science deals with evidence in the same way. “Directly observe” is another bit of nonsense. We know of many things we didn’t “directly observe”. Have you ever seen a molybdenum atom? Do you therefore doubt that it contains protons and that we know how many?


I might be inclined to discuss this line with you if I thought you would be consistent when it comes to an unobserveable God, but of course you won’t.

All rules are broken when supporting evolution; all evidence for God or the Bible is held to the highest standard.

Well, that came out of nowhere.

Not sure what you mean by that. Didn’t I just mention that all those sciences work the same way?

As all evidence should be, right?

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Okay so let’s say that atomic theory posits unobserveable entities whose existence is inferred only by the effects they cause.

Why is a supernatural designer any different and what does this mean for methodological naturalism?

If something is truly a “scientific methodology”, then it is based on observation and falsification testing. I assume that you inserted the word “directly” into your claim with the intention of redefining scientific observations in a way which is contrary to the actual scientific definition.

Indeed, all scientific observation involves collecting data which originated in the past—whether nanoseconds ago in a laboratory experiment, or 8.3 minutes ago when observing the sun or many years ago when observing most stars in the night sky. Are those nevertheless “direct observations”? Or are they “indirect” because electron movements or photon collection is involved in each?


@BenKissling, every history academic journal I’ve ever read features articles where falsification testing is part of the scholarly methodology. For example, the last time I read a history journal article, it was about an ancient palimpsest which was thought to come from a particular century. New data suggested otherwise. So the “traditional” hypothesis and scholarly consensus was subjected to falsification testing and analysis. Likewise, another article dealt with the traditional hypothesis that a particular ancient salt mine was the destination of many condemned Christians of the early centuries A.D. All of the data was subjected to falsification testing and historians are still weighing that evidence. Peer review in history scholarship shares many similarities with science scholarship.

Which “rules” are you talking about? I’m very curious to hear about such rules. How does evolutionary biology operate any differently (methodologically speaking) than any other scientific field?

How does one go about empirically testing for a “supernatural designer”? As Francis Collins and many other Christians within the scientific world have said: “If you can manage to bring me a deity-detector, then I will empirically test for God’s existence.”

Do you understand the difference between scientific methodologies and the methodologies in philosophy and theology? I certainly affirm God’s existence as creator of all things but I’ve never claimed that I can provide compelling empirical evidence for such. (I do believe that much about God is revealed within the matter-energy world but that is my philosophical and theological position. I can’t establish or prove that position empirically.)

I was a YEC for many years. I observed lots of my colleagues (then and more recently) treat the Bible as if it is a scientific text. However, I will certainly agree with you that this unfortunate practice is not universal to all Young Earth Creationists.

Yes, the Bible must be evaluated on its own terms, not as a scientific text.


Why is it impossible to empirically test the effects of an unobserveable God but possible to empirically test the effects of an unobserveable theoretical entity like the atom or an equation?

Your question is based on a false premise and a misunderstanding of how science works:

(1) Scientists can and regularly do observe atoms. In fact, you can even see countless images of atoms online. Here’s an example:

Of course, observation in science involves far more than just seeing with our eyes. You can’t see the wind blowing (the movement of a large group of atoms in the air) but you can nevertheless observe what the wind does to other, more visible atoms, such as in dust and debris. Scientific observation can involve any of the human senses and all sorts of sophisticated instrumentation.

(2) As to your assertion about observing an equation, a scientific equation is a kind of summary statement about what scientists observe. For example, a scientific law is often an equation, such as Ohm’s Law: I=V/R, which tells us that current in amps is equal to voltage in volts divided by resistance in ohms. Scientific equations helps us to understand what scientists have repeatedly and consistently observed.

God is not observable in a scientific experiment. We cannot empirically test for God.

If you think God can be empirically tested by scientists, please describe the experiment you have in mind.


I think that would only confuse him. We knew about atoms long before we were able to create images of them, without direct observation (if such imaging can be called direct observation). The point is that all science is inference from observation, the evidence of things unseen.

Because “God” is not a well-formed hypothesis. Nobody can agree on what characteristics of God would create what observabe effects. We can however test certain hypotheses of God’s behavior, for example that he created the universe 6000 years ago and is not trying to deceive us about it. That hypotheses is easily falsified. But “God exists” is much too vague to be tested.


That is why I gave him the example of wind, a collection of air molecules, which can’t be seen with one’s eyes but can nevertheless be observed through the wind’s effects on dust and debris. So, my point was that atoms can be observed, both in the “direct” visual sense and in the more mundane sense of observing the effect of the atoms in a wind gust on easily observable objects.


So if it wasn’t “too vague” than there’s nothing in principle preventing it. Of course, whether it’s “too vague” or not is an opinion.

My, how easily you’ve given up on methodological naturalism. I thought it would be more difficult.

It’s possible to test idea using MN because MN allows us to make testable predictions about what we’d expect to see if our ideas were correct and what we’d expect to see if they were wrong. Such experiments are also repeatable and can be used to build up confirming evidence.

Please explain how to predict the effects a supernatural entity will create in any given experiment. How do you determine if your supernatural entity meddled with your test one day and left it alone the next?

How do you falsify the idea of supernatural intervention?


Whether something can be empirically tested—and whether or not some hypothesis is “too vague”—is irrelevant to something “in principle preventing it.” Meanwhile, I’m wondering: are you implying the popular argument “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist.”?

How did you reach the conclusion that @John_Harshman has “given up on methodological naturalism”? I don’t follow you on this at all. Your bombastic claim seems to have come out of nowhere.

Perhaps I should contextualize my reactions to your posts: I am a born-again, Bible-affirming Christ-follower. So I certainly do affirm the existence of the God of the Bible. Nevertheless, I will emphasize that my theological and philosophical conclusions are not based upon empirical methodologies. Science, by definition, is restricted to studying the matter-energy world we observe.


Hi Ben,

The question I was speaking to was Augustine’s view on incorporating science into interpreting Scripture.

The passage you cited did not address the question. In the fourth century there were no natural philosophers who believed the universe to be billions of years old; for that reason, the quote from City of God doesn’t tell us anything about how Augustine used “science” as an aid to choosing between candidate interpretations of Genesis.

There are other passages where Augustine does address the issue, however. Are you interested in discussing those passages?



Sure it is. If the empirical evidence doesn’t support a historical claim then the historical claim is falsified.

Why aren’t they reliable?

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