Assertions are “confident and forceful statements of fact or belief”, says the dictionary. But how can you tell if the confidence is justified? The answer defines a key difference between religion and science (see also ‘Science and religion’).

“Assertions aren’t for testing,”
Religious folk declare.
“Oh yes, they are,” says science, that’s
Precisely why they’re there!”

“Words written long ago,” religious folk protest,
“Came from prophets, and allow no questioning or test.
They say an entity called ‘God’ exists in mystic form,
Which made and rules the universe, and we must all conform.”

“What use are such assertions,” the science people shout,
“You cannot claim that they are right unless you’ve checked them out!
Science’s assertions aren’t meant to be dogmatic:
They’re ‘right’ until they’re proven wrong – you could say they’re pragmatic . . .”

There’s one assertion that is true,
And has been throughout history:
It’s that our brains are not equipped
For understanding mystery.

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