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Rameumptom Ruminations: 030: Falsifiability and the Shelf

Continuing with the discussion of the Demarcation Problem as presented by Karl Popper, Scott examines the concept of the shelf. Everything on the shelf falls into one of two categories: Falsifiable and Non-Falsifiable.


Popper, K. R. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. University Press.


4 thoughts on “Rameumptom Ruminations: 030: Falsifiability and the Shelf”

  1. Hi Scott,

    I appreciate your thought provoking “ruminations”, especially as I’ve been going through my own faith transition over the last few years. It feels like I’m now (mostly) at the stage of wanting to re-construct the portion of my former self that I previously loathed for allowing myself to be deceived. I projected my anger on the Church back when the hurt was fresh, but now can see that it was an important developmental stage I needed to go through. Hoping to illustrate what I mean in reference to a comment you made in this episode regarding death before the fall.

    When you point out the apparent contradiction between Science/Evolution and what the Church teaches, you understandably assume the “Fall” occurred at a moment in time on Earth. This is what the Church taught the general membership and is both falsifiable and objectively untrue. But it isn’t exactly what the Church teaches if one’s interpretive lens is more sophisticated and mature. A better framework would be to compare what gets taught explicitly in Primary vs. what gets symbolically hinted at in the Temple endowment. For a child, the objective/rational details aren’t all that important because their developmental stage is magical, so the Garden of Eden is an actual garden, like what they see in their own backyard. But an adult can comprehend mythology, symbols, and metaphors, so the Garden of Eden can be seen as being a mythical drama depicting the War in Heaven, which occurs in a figurative pre-earth spiritual state. The “fall” in this sense is the decision to leave pre-Earth life and the presence of the eternal Matriarch (Mother in Heaven archetype, Tree of Life) and to become born into mortality by following the eternal Patriarch (Father in Heaven archetype, Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil). In this sense, death did not exist before the fall because it happens spiritually / conceptually. The creation of the earth prior to the fall is not physical / literal either – it’s a mythical story used for likely tens of thousands of years to explain to our ancestors how we came to develop consciousness. The adults at the time would have realized it is just a story told around a fire to teach children esoteric concepts that they couldn’t explain another way.

    The real conundrum for the Church is that they have to speak to children and adults concurrently, so they always to default to speaking to the children (i.e. literal believers). What would you do if your extended family, young and old, all gathered together for Christmas Eve and the younger children were all excited for Santa to bring them presents? Would you tell them the truth and crush their magical expectations, or play along expecting that the older adults would do likewise? I think with the advancement of Church correlation, prompted by rapid growth of international members, the Church decided to simplify their teachings and speak to the lowest common denominator – spiritually immature children.

    The Church does an amazing job at raising children, but are not so good at raising adults who don’t want to remain forever in Primary. The real message of the fall is that the only way to graduate from the innocence of childhood is to experience a kind of death, and be reborn into a new developmental stage that replaces magic with logic. After suffering rejection from active believing members, another death needs to happen again to us and that is to replace logic with a born-again experience of seeing each of our loved ones on a developmental journey, some of whom haven’t left the Garden yet.

    Keep doing what you’re doing and I know you will be able to resolve current family differences and alienation. When you do it will be because you will have gone through the dark night of soul and greet the morning, which I think is precisely the purpose of life that the real Gospel is all about when it teaches resurrection.

    1. I think there is real value to a spiritual system when you remove the dogma, which is what you appear to be doing here. I tried to participate as a member of the church for years in a very similar space. The local bishop didn’t allow me to bless my child or baptize my other child because I did not hold a literal belief in many of the core doctrines. After a few long chats with the bishop and the stake president, I could attend but not participate. It was at that point that I decided it no longer worked for me. I still go on occasion to support my wife and children. As a side note on my family differences, there are other problems with my relationship to family unrelated to the church. Leaving the church only exacerbated the situation.

      I’m glad that you find peace in the belief system. You appear very thoughtful in your approach. Thank you for reaching out to me.

      1. Thanks for sharing, Scott. I’m actually not yet at peace with my belief system because I’m worried that if I attend church some people will not react well to anything I share that’s nuanced or non-literal. Therefore, I typically default to staying “aloof” (not unlike a certain prophet we know). The irony is that, at a time when our religion should be there for us the most, that’s when they pull away and see anything heterodox as a threat… a spiritual virus. I’m convinced that when the institution eventually matures sufficiently, they will celebrate people like us. Not quite there yet.

        1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I hope the church will get there one day, but I don’t think it will happen with any of the current leadership. Whatever you decide is right for your life, is your decision. You are the only one who can decide that.

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