This belief has been a source of contention with many people, even Christians, in the past. But the more I research, the more I find it to be the case that Christianity is the only viable worldview that is historically defensible. The central claims of the Bible demand historic inquiry, as they are based on public events that can be historically verified. In contrast, the central claims of all other religions cannot be historically tested and, therefore, are beyond falsifiability or inquiry. They just have to be believed with blind faith.

Think about it: The believer in the Islamic faith has to trust in a private encounter Muhammad had, and this encounter is unable to be tested historically. We have no way to truly investigate the claims of Joseph Smith (and when we do, they are found wanting). Buddhism and Hinduism are not historic faiths, meaning they don’t have central claims of events in time and space which believers are called upon to investigate. You either adopt their philosophy or you don’t. There is no objective way to test them. Run through every religion that you know of and you will find this to be the case: Either it does not give historic details to the central event, the event does not carry any worldview-changing significance, or there are no historic events which form the foundation of the faith.

This is what it looks like:

How Christianity Started

How Other Religions Started

A few months ago, I was emceeing an apologetics event in Dallas hosted by the Christian Renaissance Apologia Conference. The scholars present were Dan Wallace, Darrell Bock, Gary Habermas, and Craig Evans. Each of these are men that I admire and trust, as I believe they are seeking truth and not a confirmation of their prejudice. I asked them during the conference if there are any other religions or worldviews that they knew of that had apologetics conferences the way Christianity does. In other words, can other religions pull together enough objective intellectual backing to form a solid defense for their faith? Each of them responded with the same: no. They went on to express the same sentiments of my present argument. “Even atheists,” Habermas said, “have nothing but ‘negative apologetics’.” In other words, Christianity has a significant amount of historically verifiable data which forms the bedrock of the faith. This is “positive apologetics.” An atheist conference, for example, does nothing but belittle the claims of other religions (primarily Christianity). “There is no positive defense that one can give for naturalism,” Habermas concluded. Therefore, the only thing available to the atheist is an attempt to overturn the massive amount of evidence that Christianity has.

This makes a lot of sense. If I decided to start a religion, deceptively or not, I would not make false claims to recent historic events that did not happen. Why? Because I know those claims could be tested. Also, I would not give details about the time, place, and people involved. More than that, I would not invite contemporaries to investigate these claims. For example, if I were to say today that in 1965 there was a man named Titus who was born in Guthrie, OK and traveled about Oklahoma City doing many miracles and gaining a significant following, this could easily be falsified. I would not say that Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma, along with Tom Coburn, US Senator from Oklahoma, had Titus electrocuted. I would not detail that the electrocution was in Bricktown on January 13, 1968 at 9am. I wouldn’t claim that Titus rose from the dead and gained a significant following throughout Oklahoma City which has spread across America. Why wouldn’t I make these claims as the foundation of my new religion? Because they can be easily tested and falsified. This religion could not possibly get off the ground. If I were to make up a religion, all the events which support the religion (if any) would be private and beyond testing.

You won’t believe the scholars you can sit under today!

This is why you don’t have religions based on historic events. They are all, with the exception of Christianity, based on private encounters which cannot be falsified or subjective ideas which are beyond inquiry. The amazing thing about Christianity is that there is so much historic data to be tested. Christianity is, by far, the most falsifiable worldview there is. Yet, despite this, Christianity flourished in the first century among the very people who could test its claims. And even today, it calls on us to “come and see” if the claims are true.

The only reason why I can say Christianity survived in the midst of such historic volatility is because it is true. And this is exactly what I would expect if there were an all-powerful God who created and loves this world. When he intervenes, he makes a significant enough footprint that historic inquiry is demanded. Think about that next time you are critiquing the Christian faith. The only reason you can is because it is the only religion that has opened itself up to such critique.  Simply put, Christianity is the most falsifiable religion there is and yet it has survived. Why?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    16 replies to "Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion"

    • Blake


    • Jeff Brodhead

      No, not Judaism, because Moses wrote the first five books and there was no trail of evidence back to Creation. There were not large numbers of witnesses to the beginning, so the beginning requires faith only – believing one man, at some point, whether you say that was Moses (though all Israel was witness to the presence of God, only Moses heard His voice), Abraham, Noah, or Adam. The latter three had very few corroborating witnesses, if any.)

      But, then, the evidence of our Creator’s hand is in everything and always has been, such that man is without excuse for not believing in something greater than himself. Man always had enough to know there is God; that there is order in Creation, even though he could not begin to understand God, without His Word.

      • Donald Sensing

        But there would have been no Jesus of history without the Jews of history. The Jews have always understood that the presence of God is found in the events of history. And as some Western scholars have said, “History is biography,” so necessarily individual persons will play critical roles. Even so, the Jews have understood that the acts of God are bigger than in individuals, encompassing whole peoples. All the children of Israel experienced the founding of Israel after the crossing of the Jordan under God’s providence. All the people saw the walls of Jericho fall. There are dozens and dozens of such example,s many of them adverse from failure to uphold the covenant. To say that Judaism’s historical record doesn’t count is simply untenable.

    • Andrew

      Judaism was good in that the acts of God were seen by a whole nation, but Jesus is more falsifiable because it occurred on a much more global scale with writers from the other side supporting the claims made by christians and it was testable outside the worldview that it was written in. witnesses were named and able to tested. those witnesses lost everything in defending what they saw.

    • Steve McKerracher

      “This makes a lot of sense. If I decided to start a religion, deceptively or not, I would not make false claims to recent historic events that did not happen. Why? Because I know those claims could be tested. Also, I would not give details about the time, place, and people involved.”
      Damn that is dishonest. You realize the first NT author is Paul, who was writing to the gentiles… to people who would have to WALK to Jerusalem to try and check the facts. And at least a decade or three after the claimed events. No internet existed.
      By the time of the gospels, it would be impossible to actually falsify any of the notable claims.
      But the fact that no contemporaries in one of the most literate cities on earth wrote of these incredible events, doesn’t make it more likely they happened…
      This is being totally ignorant of the times this happened in.
      You realize in the same general time and region, a guy claimed God had been made flesh… in the form of a snake with a human head, and that the snake prophesied and did miracles.
      And we have better historical evidence for this than anything in the New Testament. Multiple contempory accounts wrote of it, including an actual Roman Emperor who is still quoted today, Marcus Aurelius wrote of it.
      In other words, it wasn’t a time of much skepticism. They believed in the supernatural, were credulous, and easy to fool.
      Since this religion died out, and thus didn’t have the opportunity to destroy anything critical of their religion, there was actually a skeptic who wrote about Glycon, who said it was a trained snake with a dollhead, and ventroliquist priests.
      You think the kind of people fooled by that, would have been so skeptical as to walk to Jeralusem and do a factual investigation?
      This is simply either a dishonest or ignorant angle to try and take.

      • C Michael Patton

        Actually, I am not sure where you are getting your information, but Paul got the Gospel within three years of the event. Bart Erhman even says one year. Most all scholars, liberal and Christian alike, say the creed of 1 Cor 12 comes very early, at least three years.

        I wonder where you get your confidence from. That is a strong accusation? Have you studied this issue? Who agrees with you?

      • Roger Kovaciny

        The primary witnesses to Jesus are the Apostles. If you will look at the well-researched volume The Search for the Twelve Apostles, you will discover that all but St. John (who was “merely”) imprisoned, were executed, generally in hideously painful ways. Men don’t die for a lie. Bad enough that St. Peter was crucified–his wife was crucified before his eyes to make him deny the resurrection of Jesus. At any point he could have saved them by denying and renouncing Jesus. So, Steve, perhaps you might want to do a little more research before rejecting all the positive evidence that C. Michael alludes to.

        • Jay

          Men don’t die for a lie? If they believe it they do. What do you call Ashli Babbitt’s death? She died over the “big lie.”

          It’s so hard to try to talk to people when the starting point is so far from reality. In this case, it’s where the Bible actually came from.

          Find me the biblical scholars who believe today that any of the books of the NT were written within a few years of Jesus “existence” and that Paul was even the first book written. I’d have to double check, but I’m pretty sure Mark was written first and then the rest were derived after. No credible scholar even believes that an actual person named Matt, Mark, Luke, or John even wrote them. While not impossible, it seems very unlikely. Odds are they are written to seem like it, but that they are not first hand accounts. So much so, again, scholars don’t believe it.

          So, again, Roger, it’s hard to discuss things like this with people like yourself who are working from an assumption that isn’t factual. In this case it’s that the apostles we real people, let alone that the books were writtin anywhere near the time of the supposed “events” of the ficticious savior figure. Are you unaware that everyone forgot Christianity after the supposed “events” until Saul of Tarsis started talking about it after a having a vision?

          I agree with Steve that “This makes a lot of sense. If I decided to start a religion, deceptively or not, I would not make false claims to recent historic events that did not happen. Why? Because I know those claims could be tested. Also, I would not give details about the time, place, and people involved.” is dishonest. It begs the question, then why did they? Beacause there are plenty of falsifiable historical events to be found.

    • […] [4] See Michael Patton, “Christianity, the World’s Most Falsifiable Religion.” As found at […]

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    • […] Christianity remains the most falsifiable religion. And I believe we have evidence in the New Testament that this was an important distinctive of the Christian faith. There is a reason why Paul did not make his trip to heaven a defining point of his gospel message. As I’ve said before: […]

    • Jay

      Many events in the Bible did NOT happen historically and some of the places didn’t even exist when they supposedly were visited in scripture. You also seem to be confused about the word falsifiable. It would mean that it’s able to be proven to be false. Yes, your title is accurate. Christianity is falsifiable.

      1. We know via evolutionary biology that man could not have began from two individuals such as Adam and Eve. Thus, the entire story is false/fiction. This means that the notion of original sin is fabricated and not based on anything in realtiy.

      2. Without original sin there is no need for savior figure, especially a vicarious one because we know that vicarious redemption is immoral. We don’t throw people into prison for other people’s crimes because we understand actual right from wrong more than the men who wrote scripture did.

      Lastly, you have to be gullible and naive to believe the story. You have to have no grasp on the problem of evil nor undertand what omnipotence and omnicience would really mean, nor its implications. Is the creator of the universe so inept at forgiveness (even more than you are) that when what it created did exactly what he knew it would in advance, it not only felt vengeful (like it didn’t know it would happen?), but the only way it could forgive its creation was to send itself in human form to be sacrficed (was it really a sacrifice if he was resurrected?) in order for its creation to be vicariously redeemed through a process of believing a specific thing (that the sacrifice was real and true and all that other dogma around it) without any actual evidence? Doesn’t sound omnipotent nor omnicient to me. It sounds evil.

      Usually, apologists will try to refute this by bringing up free will. That begs the question. Is there free will in heaven? The answer must be no, otherwise evil would exist there too. So, without freedom, can it really be heaven? If your idea of heaven is to be a subservient worshipper, no wonder you are fine with letting religious dogma rule your life, because hey, you can be that now! It’s a wasted life.

      Let’s strive for a world where everyone can be honest. We don’t understand reality nor do we have any way to know if there’s a creator of the universe or not, nor anything about it. Anyone who ever starts talking about a creator with certainty and details as if they know anything about the nature of it beyond that its a mystery, should be ridiculed. That means every religious person. Atheists aren’t angry, we just think you’re all delusional and dishonest. And dangerous.

    • Gordon

      “Men don’t die over a lie” don’t you remember taking history class in school?
      The fact is, Jesus did not appear in public. He appeared privately to up to 500 exclusives. The Sanhedrin and the Army would not have attempted a coverup if Jesus appeared in such a way that was public enough that it couldn’t be covered up. They could only say the body was stolen if the living man didn’t show himself to have stolen his own body. Herod would have worshipped him if Jesus came out in public. The first apostle to Europe would have been Pilate himself speaking to the Emperor, not Paul.
      Paul’s sighting of Jesus is also completely unfalsifiable. None of those on the road with him had anything to write about it, just Luke who was Paul’s disciple and probably his personal pharmacus who got him into his “third heaven” later. Paul writes against and supercedes Jesus’ teachings so much that if I were to annotate Jesus’ words on the kingdom of Heaven with Paul’s theology of thinly veiled lawlessness, your heads would explode!

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    • […] that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Unlike other religions, the central claims of Christianity are both verifiable and falsifiable through the […]

    • […] has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Unlike other religions, the central claims of Christianity are both verifiable and falsifiable through the […]

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