As usual, yet another blog post is being inspired by twitter conversations. Twitter gives me such great #BlogFodder
If you’ve spent any time discussing the existence of God or the truth of Christianity online, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
This is how it might go:
1. An atheist (or group of atheists) will demand evidence for God.
2. You respond by giving them evidence for God.
3. They just label it a fallacy (or worse, say that ‘arguments are not evidence‘) and repudiate it.
4. They ask for evidence again.
5. You reply with, “I just gave you evidence, you didn’t address it. What do you mean by evidence?”
6. The atheist(s) reply, “STUPID CHRISTIAN! DON’T TRY TO REDEFINE EVIDENCE! GIVE ME EVIDENCE!!!11”
Remember that conversation you had with that one [group of] atheist(s) that sounded just like that? That was incredibly frustrating, wasn’t it?
I know that feel, bro.
This is why I’ve tried starting the conversation with a discussion about the nature of evidence. I can’t give a skeptic evidence if the skeptic doesn’t understand evidence.
As I’ve discussed in an earlier post, “Evidence can be defined as the available body of facts or information which tends to prove or disprove something, usually associated with the justification for beliefs”. This entails that a valid and sound argument is evidence for a particular proposition. So when you hear someone say something silly like, “arguments are not evidence”, they’re just wrong.
And this is why it can so difficult to give evidence for God’s existence to certain atheists; its because no evidence for God’s existence will ever suffice, because this particular type of atheist doesn’t understand evidence.
Now, when it comes to evidence for God’s existence, there are a wide variety of directions we could go with this. Entire libraries of books have been written on the topic. Some of my favorites include:
The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Moreland and Craig)
Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Moreland and Craig)
The Rationality of Theism (Copan and Moser)
The Existence of God (Swineburn)
Warranted Christian Belief (Plantinga)
Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (Craig, Copan and others)
Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy and Science (Dembski and Licona)
As you can imagine, I could keep going. In addition to these books, there are libraries of books that address and defend specific arguments for God’s existence. These books flesh out the details, explore the evidence, explain why the objections fail, etc. This is a very in-depth topic, and if you find someone who can’t move past demanding evidence and dismissing arguments, odds are that this particular skeptic hasn’t bother to read much of anything on the topic.
To the Christian theist: in order to get the most out of the discussion, it is vital that you and the skeptic are on the same page in the “what is evidence?” department. Without agreeing on what constitutes evidence, the conversation will probably not go anywhere. And it won’t go anywhere, very fast.
To the skeptic: in order to get the most out of the discussion, it is vital that you and the theist are on the same page in the “what is evidence?” department. Without agreeing on what constitutes evidence, the conversation will probably not go anywhere. And it won’t go anywhere, very fast.
My advice is the same to both people.
Ps. Attempting to come to an agreement about the nature of evidence is not redefining evidence. Clarity is our friend.