Science and religion

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Mon, 12 Aug 1996 10:35:38 -0400

In message <> Chuck Coker writes:

> If it cannot be proved to be true or false, it is religion. If it can be
> proved to be true or false, it is science.
> Religion: Since my grandmother died, she has been watching over my family,
> taking care of us.
> Science: If I hold my coffee cup straight out at arm's length and let go
> of it, it will fall to the floor shattering the glass cup and
> spilling the coffee.

May I offer a friendly amendment? Take out the "true" thing, so that the
definition reads "If it cannot be proved false, it is religion; if it can, it is

The hypothesis that your grandmother has been watching over the family since she
died can not be proven to be false, because there is no empirical data that can
be collected which could do so. On the other hand, the hypothesis that the
coffee cup will fall if you let go of it can be tested empirically. Just hold
it out and let go, as many times as you like. As long as it continues to fall,
your hypothesis is not disconfirmed. If it ever doesn't fall, the hypothesis
fails and must be abandoned or revised; that is science.

What you cannot do is "prove" that your hypothesis regarding the cup will always
be true, because no matter how many times you let go and watch it fall, the
possibility exists that on the very next try it will not fall.

Ronald Kephart
University of North Florida