A Look at God’s Existence: Evidence We Want vs Evidence We Should Expect

A Look at  Evidence We Want and Evidence We Should Expect

 REMEMBER: Sometimes questions are better than answers!

Some Common Objections:

  • “There is no proof for God!”
  • “We can’t know if there is a God or that Jesus is the Son of God” (agnostic)
  • “We do know that God does not exist and that Jesus is not the Son of God” (knowledge claim)

Questions to ask:

What is “Proof”?

“Does “proof” mean we  need 100 percent, absolute, mathematical certainty — with no possible alternative explanations for the existence of God/Jesus as the Son of God?”

Does Proof mean to have “Certitude?”

  • Means it cannot be challenged by the consideration of new evidence that results from improved observation
  •  It can’t be criticized by improved reasoning or the detection of inadequacies or errors in the reasoning we have done. Beyond such challenge or criticism, such judgments are indubitable, or beyond doubt. Note: This was adpated from Mortimer Adler’s Six Great Ideas.
  • Aside from common sense beliefs (i.e, beliefs we take for granted in the common concerns of life), we generally don’t’ get certitude with much of anything.

Therefore:

  • If someone is asking for 100 percent,  to truly know that God exists, we need to remind them this is unrealistic. We believe lots of things with confidence even though we do not have absolute certainty.

 “There is no  evidence for God or the Christian faith?”

Questions to ask:

  • “Are you asking if there is good reasons or grounds  for being a Christian?”

 Evidence We Want vs. Evidence We Should Expect 

Note: Thanks to Stephen Bedard at Hope’s Reason for the differentiation here.

Example: Evidence We Want

“God is a supernatural being, so I want a  supernatural sign or be handed undisputable evidence of one. If only I could see a miracle, then I will believe.”

Response:

The skeptic constantly assumes that if they could just see God directly or if God would give them an unmistakable sign that He is there, they would bow their knee and follow Him.  Sadly, this is misguided on several levels. God declares, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20).  However, there seems to be other texts that indicate  people did see God. Even in Exodus 33:11  Moses speaks to God “face to face.” Obviously, “face to face” is a figure of speech which means they were in close communion or conversation.

Also, in Genesis 32:30, Jacob saw God appearing as an angel. But he did not truly see God. In Genesis 18:1,  it says the Lord appeared to Abraham. Obviously, there are other cases where God  appears in various  forms. But this is not the same thing as  seeing God  directly  with all His glory and holiness. It is evident that people can’t see  God in all His fullness (Exodus 33:20). For if they did, they would be destroyed. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God and he shows the world who God is (Heb. 1:1).

Also, the demand for signs doesn’t guarantee one will believe.  For example:

Jesus did signs for people and they still rejected him: John grieved: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him” (John 12:37).

Jesus himself said of some, “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). One result, though not the purpose, of miracles is condemnation of the unbeliever (cf. John 12:31, 37).

Jesus did the miracles for those who were Beatitude people. Are you poor in spirit? Do you recognize your poverty before God? Or do you just want a sign so you can say, “Oh, I guess that God exists, but I have no intention of placing my faith in God.”

Evidence We Want: Scientific Evidence

Questions to ask:

  • What is science? “Science the attempted objective study of the natural world/natural phenomena whose theories and explanations do not normally depart from the natural realm.” (Del Ratzsch, Philosophy of Science (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 15.
  •  Is God natural or non natural? How would science ‘prove’ or provide evidence against the non-existence of God? For example, if God created the universe from nothing (think, Big Bang), then all naturalistic attempts to explain the universe’s beginning are going to run into problems!
  • Some skeptics want to cling to the claim that science can say nothing about the existence of God (he is supernatural) but they also desperately want to tell people how science has shown that God doesn’t exist. This makes no sense!
  • Science operates on induction (A posteriori knowledge which is dependent on experience or empirical evidence ).The inductive method entails searching out things in the world and drawing generalized conclusions about those things based on observation. The only way one can say a thing does not exist is by using a deductive method (A priori knowledge which is  independent of experience).
  • One cannot know anything inductively with absolute certainty. The inductive method gives us knowledge that is only probably true.
  • Can we observe God directly? No! But since science is a search or causes, we can observe the effects in the world and make rational inferences (i.e, is the cause of what we observe the result of natural causation or intelligent causation?
  • Does science allow for agency?  Human beings habitually understand themselves as agents. Agents have goals (things they desire), and produce behavior which they believe will achieve those goals.  They plan ahead and show intentional design and purpose.  Example: Does the universe have a goal or purpose? Is the universe set up to allow  for scientific discovery? It is set up for life to get going on earth?  Note: Natural selection has no reasons for its “choices,” and it has no goals, only selecting on the basis of past performance.
  • God of the gaps? When theists cannot explain something in nature, they will conveniently say, “God did it.” So the complaint is that when we appeal to God to plugs the gaps of our ignorance,  science will continue to provide answers.
  •  Remember: (1) The Biblical authors didn’t differentiate  between natural and non natural causes. God is the author of nature (i.e., we need to account or the existence of nature/natural laws themselves that allow science to flourish); (2) “Naturalism of the gaps: “Naturalism-of-the-gaps implies so great a confidence in scientism that ultimately no evidence for God can ever emerge, no matter how strong.  

There is evidence for God in the sciences: Note: These issues are always being debated: NOTE: Thanks to Wintery Knight for some of these resources:

Evidence  We Should Expect

We need to discuss the difference between factors and proofs

Webster’s II New College Dictionary says a factor is “something that actively contributes to an accomplishment, goal, or process.”

The plausibility factor: “Isn’t it reasonable to believe that a God who created us could, if he wanted to do so through the vehicle of inspired writing?” In other words,does it make sense that God should provide a revelation of Himself to humanity?” (see Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism, pg 127-128.

Analogy: As someone who is married, how do I know what my wife expects of me in certain situations unless she communicates!

Why the need for a revelation?

  • We need to know the character of God: we need a concrete communication to establish the exact  nature of God’s character. Who is God and what is He Like?
  • The Origin of   Evil/The Fall: Man needs to be educated concerning the reasons  for our situation.
  • Man’s Origin: Without a  clear revelation, people might think they are the result of a blind,  naturalistic process instead of being created in the image of God.
  • Mankind’s   Destiny: In the absence of a revelation, we might think  that this life is all there is

Going about providing Legal/Historical  Evidence

  • Testimony of witnesses
  • Hostile eyewitness testimony
  • Written documents
  • Archeological/external evidence
  • We use textual studies to show  that we have trustworthy versions of the original biblical documents.

Remember, when it comes to historical evidence: Since history is inductive, probability comes in degrees:

  • Virtual Certainty: Where the evidence is overwhelmingly in its  favor( the law of gravity)
  • Highly probable: Very good evidence in its favor (There was a man named Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago and was crucified)
  • Probable: Means there is sufficient evidence in its favor (Paul wrote Galatians and 1 Corinthians)
  • Possible: Seems to have evidence both for and against (The Shroud of Turin is the cloth that covered Jesus when he was in the tomb)
  • Improbable: Insufficient Evidence in its favor (Life can come from non-life)

The Old Testament explains:

The New Testament explains:

Evidence We Should Expect:

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis,  The Weight of Glory. Note: see Paul Copan’s God: The Best Explanation

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