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It's worse than that.

Religion isn't EVEN a hypothesis.

A hypothesis must be falsifiable. There must be a possibility of SOME observation that would prove the hypothesis false.

Religion thrives on NOT being falsifiable. The stronger the case against it, the more True Believers pat themselves on the back for their "faith".

So religion is not a hypothesis. Religion is just a half-assed guess... :)

David D.G.

I prefer to say that religion is a loudly unsupported assertion.

~David D.G.

David D.G.

Sorry, I should have taken another moment in considering what I wrote before posting it. I meant to say that God is a loudly unsupported assertion.

~David D.G.

Greta Christina

Actually, Unbeliever, I think religion is a hypothesis. It's just not a very good one. It's a hypothesis in that it's an assertion about how the world works and why it is the way it is -- but as you point out, most (although not all) supernatural hypotheses are untestable. (And yes, freakishly, its untestability does weirdly seem to make it stronger.)

You can, however, test whether prayer is effective, or whether faith healing is effective, or whether astrology accurately predicts events and personalities. These tests have been done. And they've all failed to support the supernatural hypothesis in question. Every single time religion has made testable claims, and those claims have been tested, they've fallen flat. You'd think that would suggest something...


I think just to be annoying and pedantic, I'll give religion credit for being half a hypothesis.

Religion does make predictions about the way the world will behave. These are testable and falsifiable. However, unlike most good hypotheses, it doesn't provide a testable, falsifiable causal mechanism for its predictions.

The implication is important. Suppose someone did a study of prayer demonstrating a statistically significant increase in recovery when people prayed to be healed. The first thing any good peer-review would say is this: "Interesting result, but the conclusion that 'Goddidit' is unsupported because God hasn't been defined, and there's no description of the mechanism by which Goddidit."

Jim Baerg

Does the concept 'matter of opinion' apply to *anything*?

There are matters of fact, aspects of the external universe, many of which are unknown to us so far.

There are matters of taste, which are about relationships between a person & something else eg: 'I hate broccoli', to use an example from a previous post by Greta. This can reasonably include statements like 'I have an allergy to wheat'. True for some people & not for others.

People can have different opinions about matters of fact for which there is so far insufficient evidence, but I doubt there are any actual 'matters of opinion'.


I would say "matter of opinion" applies to those things for which there is no absolute truth - is Avatar a good film? Were the Beatles the greatest band ever? Is Rembrandt better than Van Gogh. Passionate arguments on either side can be made, but no definitive answer will ever be forth coming. You may wish to relegate these to "matters of taste" but that to me seems a matter of semantics. What value is there in denying matters of opinion exist?


I like this definition:
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

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