Covenantal/presuppositional apologetics: EVIDENCE
Evidentialists HAVE presuppositions and presuppositionalists HAVE evidence.
I was searching the site recently and didn’t find anything that explained the presuppositional method in layman’s terms. This post won’t explain all aspects of it, but hopefully can help some people better understand the nature of empirical evidence in apologetics.
I have used evidences in a couple ways. I think it is a great discussion to have among other Christians so that we can strengthen each others faith. It certainly is reassuring to see God’s workmanship in archeology, cosmology, etc.
I also use evidences to silence the unbeliever in their criticisms. They often claim that there isn’t any scientific evidence that confirms the accounts in Genesis.
Many people, whether Christian or not, may argue that it is possible that unbiased investigation of scientific evidence is the absolute standard by which the debate about origins or the existence of the biblical God can be settled.
I want to point out some problems with this belief.
No one approaches evidence without biases. A Christian can look at the similarities in DNA between monkeys and humans and conclude that they both have God as their creator as we read in Genesis 1. A nonbeliever would look at the same DNA and conclude something else that lines up with their beliefs.
The reason that empirical evidences won’t be conclusive in a debate like this is because people can always appeal to the unknown. If we present evidence to the unbeliever that seems to be contradictory to their understanding of the world (“DNA is information and all information must come from a mind”), then they can invent a possible unknown to save them (“We haven’t discovered the naturalistic reason for the origin of DNA yet”). This isn’t necessarily wrong, because absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. Both Christians and unbelievers can do this. No matter what worldview (from Atheism to Hinduism to Islam) we hold to there will always be some evidence out there that we can’t make sense of. The important thing in arguing logically is a person must have a good reason for appealing to the unknown if they are going to be rational, but appealing to one’s worldview is only rational if the worldview itself is rational.
Another problem with believing evidence should be observed with an open mind, without previous beliefs or from a neutral standpoint is that this is impossible.
1) This view is itself a belief about how all evidence should be observed. Everyone has an ultimate standard by which evidence should be interpreted.
2) We already believe that our cognitive functions are reliable in the interpretation.
3) It’s logically flawed. If the Christian and unbeliever decide on a “neutral” interpretation which ends up being incorrect, then why trust neutrality to verify either worldview? If the “neutral” interpretation is correct, then both the Christian’s and unbeliever’s worldview are wrong.
4) It’s unbiblical. 1 Cor 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
We all interpret the evidences in light of our worldviews and ANY scientific evidence can be interpreted to fit ANY worldview.
Take a look at Luke 16:31. Jesus said if they don’t believe Moses and the prophets (Scriptures) then THEY WON’T BELIEVE EVEN IF ONE RISES FROM THE DEAD. What better empirical evidence is there?
When Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection Mat 28:17, some doubted, what??? How could that be I thought seeing was believing! Jesus even told doubting Thomas that blessed are those who don’t see and still believe.
The above is just a brief explanation of the presuppositional view of evidence and it’s usefulness/limitations, but I still haven’t shown how the biblical worldview is the only true one. This is important because the unbeliever’s worldview must be challenged.
Oh yeah! DON’T FORGET THE GOSPEL! People are only saved by repentance and faith in Christ.