But then, unaccountably, he turns around and acknowledges the opposite:
Note that almost all religions make specific claims about the world involving matters such as the existence of miracles, answered prayers wonder-working saints and divine cures, virgin births, annunciations and resurrections. These factual claims, whose truth is a bedrock of belief, bring religion within the realm of scientific study.How can these two things--that religious belief us unfalsifiable and that is "within the realm of scientific study" both be true? Coyne continues:
But rather than relying on reason and evidence to support them, faith relies on revelation, dogma and authority.Now the first thing to say about this is that is shouldn't matter what "faith relies" on. The claims are either falsifiable or they are not--and whether those who claim them think they are within some special realm of "faith" is simply irrelevant. They are in the realm of history (something he himself admits) and can be analyzed according to its principles.
But the second thing to say about it is that it is completely false. It is simply not true to say that Christians do not rely on reason and evidence to support the Resurrection. All Coyne need have done was to conduct a Google search. He could simply have typed the words "evidence for the resurrection" and come up with what Google says is "about 300,000 results."
So whatever we want to say about whether the Resurrection is true or false, we know one thing: Coyne's claim that those who believe in it do not offer reason and evidence for it is demonstrably false. In fact, this is a staple of Christian apologetics (the reasoned defense of the Faith) and has been since the first century. The early Christian writers appealed directly to evidence, talking about how many people had seen the risen Christ. There's no better evidence than a witness.
And Coyne digs himself in deeper by making another claim:
I've never met a Christian, for instance, who has been able to tell me what observations about the universe would make him abandon his beliefs in God and Jesus.Coyne must not get out much. Any Christian believer who knew anything about his faith would readily say that, if the Resurrection was conclusively proven wrong, they would have to abandon their faith. They would have to, since that is the central claim upon which their faith is based. If there are some who don't do this, then they are fideists who do not understand the central claim of their religion. In fact, if Coyne is going to make statements like this, he needs to actually do a little research. Not any kind of complicated historical research, just some basic reading. If he had done this, he would have discovered the following statement:
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.This doesn't come from just any Christian: it's the words of the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. He says that if the Resurrection didn't happen, then it's all over. We can all go home. Did Coyne just miss this? He could have found this by the simple expedient of actually knowing what he was talking about. But he clearly doesn't.
Now I can just hear the peanut gallery on this blog turning out in force and demanding what the evidence for the Resurrection is. "C'mon, Martin, tell us what it is." I'm glad to have that conversation, but let's not confuse it with this point: Coyne is wrong when he says that reason and evidence have not been offered for this claim. It's just false. And whether or not the Resurrection is a historically legitimate claim (it is) is irrelevant to that point.
Coyne blew it.
You can say the claim for the Resurrection is or is not falsifiable, but Coyne's claim is definitely falsifiable. In fact, it's false.