More Evidence?

Posted: February 12, 2013 by Dillon in Apologetics
Tags: , , , , , ,
Christ heals the Blind Man

Christ heals the Blind Man (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Without fail, nearly every conversation I have with a skeptic contains the phrase “If there was more evidence then I would believe what you say.”  This is usually from someone who has never made an honest effort to find evidence for the claims of Christianity.  Believe it or not, there is more evidence than you could even know what to do with.  But does it really matter?

The more I research, the more I realize that evidence really doesn’t matter.  Keep reading before you freak out.  Think back to John 9, when Jesus heals the blind man. The man went to report to the Pharisees after his vision had been restored.  He was met with disbelief.  If you think about it, we wouldn’t believe him either.  Except for one glaring exception, the Pharisees were steeped in a culture and time that had miracles happen!  But it’s understandable they would want more claims than the word of one man.  After questioning the man’s parents, the Pharisees still would not believe what happened, and again questioned the man.

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he [Jesus] comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 To this they [the Pharisees] replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.  (John 9:30-34)

Even when faced with irrefutable evidence (although scripture doesn’t say, it would be reasonable to infer that the Pharisees administered some sort of vision test to the man, even if it was waving a hand in front of his face), the Pharisees willfully denied what was in front of them.  I think this passage was meant to be demonstrative rather than symbolic (though it functions as both).  But we don’t need to look only at scripture, we can simply look around the world.  When you’re in an academic setting, it’s easy to get wrapped up in an ivory tower kind of thinking: altruistic ideas outweigh realistic practices.  If you wrap yourself in this kind of thinking, though, you only set yourself up for trouble.  Humans are not rational!  Though we can think and reason, humans generally do not do things that make sense.  No matter how intellectual or logical you may claim to be, that doesn’t change that you contradict yourself in some fashion, and don’t act logically at all points in time.  An easy example?  Denial.

Denial: 1. Refusal to satisfy a request or desire 2. (1) : refusal to admit the truth or reality (as of a statement or charge) (2) : assertion that an allegation is false b : refusal to acknowledge a person or a thing. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/denial)

I have had close relatives pass away.  No matter how much you intellectually acknowledge that they are gone, you still don’t accept it.  You are in a state of denial.  It’s not logical; rather, it’s a defense mechanism to try and stop yourself from dealing with pain.  When I saw my grandpa laying in a casket, part of me was still thinking “he’s asleep…he’ll actually get up and we can all go home.”  How ridiculous is that?  But it makes perfect sense when you’re in the scenario.  No amount of evidence will make a difference when you are in denial.  Which brings us around full circle.

There is so much evidence surrounding the resurrection that it is literally awe-inspiring.  Yet it doesn’t make a shred of difference to someone who doesn’t want to believe it.  But why would someone not want to believe in a benevolent God who made the ultimate sacrifice?  Easy.  Acknowledging that God and the resurrection means acknowledging your fallen nature.  It means willfully submitting.  It means giving up being the boss in your own life. To someone who isn’t in a relationship with God, that’s downright terrifying.  In my opinion, more evidence won’t change anything.  If someone does not want to submit their lives to a higher authority, nothing can break them out of their denial.

The Pharisees had a miracle right in front of them.  Literally in front of them.  They met and talked with Jesus in the flesh.  But it made no difference.  Is more evidence what we need?  No.  We need to pray for changed hearts.

The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt ...

The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Comments
  1. altruistico says:

    Very well stated. Your message is both revealing and convincing. God bless you.

  2. “There is so much evidence surrounding the resurrection that it is literally awe-inspiring.”

    It is, sadly, only one type of evidence. Anecdotal evidence.

    And I see no good reason to believe a supernatural claim when all you have is anecdotal evidence. If anecdotal evidence was good enough, I’d believe people are really abducted regularly by aliens.

    • Debilis says:

      This is not an accurate appraisal of the texts. No on dismisses testimony in court because it is “anecdotal evidence”. Rather, it is examined based on criteria of authenticity.

      Historians do the same thing with texts. You are free to disagree with a conclusion, but simply to dismiss the entire enterprise of the historical review of texts as “anecdotal” is not a valid objection.

      • ” No on dismisses testimony in court because it is “anecdotal evidence””

        They would depending upon the claim.

        If you gave testimony that you had been abducted by aliens, that testimony would not be sufficient by itself. The same is true for supernatural claims.

        “Historians do the same thing with texts.”

        Sure they do.

        And they also don’t think that Julius Caesar was really related to the goddess Venus.

    • Debilis says:

      This hasn’t addressed my point. None of this is dismissal based on claims being “anecdotal”. Rather, what you are saying is that these things should be dismissed on the grounds that they contradict naturalism. That is a different objection altogether.

      If you assume, before you examine the evidence, that anything which leads to the conclusion “God exists” must not be valid evidence, then it is no surprise that you are left without reason to think that God exists. But, in that case, this has nothing to do with evidence.

      • “dismissed on the grounds that they contradict naturalism. ”

        Not at all. They should be dismissed because they are anecdotal, and thus not sufficient to contradict naturalism by themselves.

        “If you assume”

        I do not assume that.

        I merely hold extraordinary claims up to having extraordinary evidence before I believe them.

      • Dillon says:

        “Apart from a few inscriptions and fragments, texts written by people who actually knew Alexander or who gathered information from men who served with Alexander were all lost…Their works are lost, but later works based on these original sources have survived. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), followed by Quintus Curtius Rufus (mid-to-late 1st century AD), Arrian (1st to 2nd century AD), the biographer Plutarch (1st to 2nd century AD), and finally Justin, whose work dated as late as the 4th century.”

        Historians are ok with anecdotal evidence if all primary sources are lost. We have zero primary sources concerning Alexander the Great, yet no one will claim he didn’t exist or throw out the evidence that is presented. History is constantly in the process of being re-written. So your claims of historians throwing out anecdotal evidence is unfounded, NotAScientist.

        Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (2010). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. John Wiley and Sons.

    • Debilis says:

      If your criteria includes the phrase “depending on the claim”, then the issue isn’t the (supposed) anecdotal nature of the evidence. To call a thing anecdotal says absolutely nothing about the particular claim being made.

      Instead, you are insisting upon “extraordinary evidence” for the claim, not on the grounds that any text is anecdotal, but on the grounds that you consider theism to be an “extraordinary claim”.

      This is exactly what I’ve said. The objection has nothing to do with the nature of the evidence, but the way the claim being made strikes you as a naturalist (“extraordinary”). Whether theism or atheism turns out to be true, this approach is to enter the conversation with a bias against theism.

  3. Debilis says:

    I enjoyed this one . The pharisee I found myself thinking about as I read was the one that lives in me. It’s constantly asking me why there isn’t more evidence for God.

    This is an excellent answer to that question.

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