As anyone who has paid even the slightest amount of attention to my blog of late will know, I’ve been having some discussions on Twitter about God and Atheism. The people I have discussed things with have ranged from the very polite and reasonable (even if we disagree) to the just swearing at me. I’ve noticed a bit of a theme though. I get asked for evidence from people for the existence of God. That’s a fair question. However their approach to that question is largely not so.
I almost always respond to the request for evidence with the question “what would you accept as evidence.” Basically I want them to tell me what the evidence they want looks like. This has two purposes.
First it allows them to think about it. What type of evidence are they looking for? Are they looking for the type of evidence that lets us know that Alexander the Great lived and did all the things that historians believe he did? We have that. Are they looking for some type of repeatable test (like you might use to explain what happens when you mix an acid and a base together, you get water, a salt, and some heat). That seems to me to be an unreasonable type of evidence to expect.
Second it gives me a place to start. Twitter is a very limiting medium for discussion. It would be helpful to know what someone wants rather than giving them things they will reject out of hand (more on that in a moment). If I have to type a half dozen or more tweets to talk about a particular piece of evidence for God it would be helpful to know beforehand that they won’t accept it as evidence anyway (because of their preexisting bias). This is illustrated by an interaction I had with two people. As evidence I asserted that my faith that God created the universe is no different than their faith that the universe could have spontaneously jumped into existence from nothing. One of them took the position that the universe has always existed. I used logic to demonstrate that the universe can’t be infinite days old (see this post for a similar explanation). And also the scientific law of entropy that would say that if the universe were infinitely old, it would have run out of gas by now. For this I was told I was not an expert on time or space or science. No refutation of the logic was necessary, it was just dismissed out of hand.
The other person replied that she believed that science would one day figure out how something can come from nothing (and break the law of causality). Again, the logic is just dismissed out of hand. There is another telling response this particular person had. I also presented a book I would recommend called Cold Case Christianity. I wouldn’t call it flawless (though it is good) but there are powerful lines of evidence in the book. When I suggested she read it for the evidence she seeks she dismissed it because the author is biased and the book is apologetic in nature. So what I’m to take from that statement is she wants me to find a non-Christian who believes the Bible is true and use that person as a source. Is that a reasonable expectation? The person who believes the Bible is likely to be a Christian. Even if he or she was not (assuming that makes sense) how likely is that person to write a book/webpage/blog about how the Bible is true? She’s begging the question. She’s set up the rules such that only the people who agree with her can be considered as sources (and this from a person who claims to be open to anything).
What it really comes down to is that I think you can tell if someone is really interested in evidence for God by how they answer the question, “What would you consider as evidence?” Of course you should always be willing to give evidence (you never know who will be listening, or if what you say will have an impact later). Don’t be discouraged though if your evidence is rejected without it even being examined. As the Bible says, people love the darkness and hate the light because they don’t want their deeds exposed to the light.