Re: Eliezer on Science versus Religion

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Mar 06 2001 - 10:18:01 MST

Jim Fehlinger wrote:
> Hmm... Well, restricting one's definition of "religion" to the
> elaborately codified ones of the historical era (the last 5000
> years) seems a bit narrow.

It works.

> A more anthropological view which includes,
> say, myths accreted to consolidate and preserve a social hierarchy
> might well consider unfalsifiability to be a salient virtue of
> such stories (at least, as far as their social function as tools of
> power is concerned).

"Social function"? Predatory memes! Nevermind. Anyway, the point is
that while non-*local*-falsifiability is salient, made-up stories will
tend to describe a fictional history that would have most certainly been
falsifiable at the point of occurrence. There is nothing subtle or
untestable about Moses splitting the Red Sea. Within the framework of
primary religions, which all assert their Books to be historical fact, all
claims (whether invented or historical) would have been testable at the
time they occurred, right up to all claims made of 1492 or whenever.

The claim of any theologian in a primary religion that religion is
untestable for fundamental moral and theological reasons is inconsistent
with that religion's exposition of historical fact as understood by the
vast majority of the members of that religion.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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