I actually posted this as a response to another post a few months ago, but got no response...maybe I'll get a bite if I post it on my own.

Is it possible to "test" whether a belief is genuinely held or not? As an example, I had an argument with one of my friends about whether or not killer whales would EVER eat people as food. I argued that if starving, yes, of course they would, just as people would. She argued the opposite and even cited an example of an overturned fishing vessel in killer-whale-populated-waters during a season when they were particularly short on food. I could not find an example of a killer whale ever eating a person; however, I still believe that under the correct circumstances it would happen.

Her belief that it would NEVER happen could be tested by giving her an opportunity to swim with a starving killer whale. 

Could there be a less-than-lethal "litmus" test of this sort for other beliefs, such as religious ones? What would it be? 

P.S.: She is actually one of my exes. For a while I kinda liked the thought of feeding her to the killer whales. Lol.

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Well sure, my thought about their behavior is just an idea, but it is very genuinely held, based on an educated guess. A hypothesis if you will. I would argue that not only was my friend wrong, but that she also didn't believe her own argument (that a killer whale would never eat a human being, presumably because of empathy or something). 

The point is that I would like a way to test not just the validity of the claim (because the application I'm thinking of, as you might have guessed, involves religious claims that may be impossible to prove or disprove), but to actually test the firmness with which someone holds a belief. In the above example of swimming with a starving whale, you would only do it if you were 100% sure there was no chance of being eaten because the consequences are so dire (given that all other risks such as drowning, accidentally getting crushed, etc are controlled). 
I'm looking for an equivalent for religious claims. A way to put something at risk when testing a claim, so that the claimant stands to have consequences if they continue holding a belief that they really don't believe. I'm not arguing that believers don't really THINK they believe, but that there are particular tenants which they claim to believe as part of the package deal, but when individually tested would prove false (for example, the bread at church being the LITERAL body of Christ, a tenant of Catholicism, is something that I doubt many Catholics actually believe. If there were lethal consequences for this belief, I think it would be renounced). 
I would also like to use this type of test against those who deny evolution- there's already a few tests out there for this. For example, many vaccines were created specifically by directly applying the theory of evolution to create them. It just angers me when people will take advantage of scientific knowledge while simultaneously denying that it's correct.




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