God does not owe you more proof

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This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper

-T.S. Eliot

Recently, an atheist told me this.

“If God loves me, wants to have a relationship with me, and yet doesn’t give me the evidence I need to make me believe in Him, He is basically failing and that has to suck for Him.”

This statement is problematic for a few reasons.

1.  It assumes that God does not love the non-believer because God is not playing by the arbitrary rules the non-believer set up.

2.  It assumes that God can fail.

3. It regards ALL of the evidence God has provided as insufficient and makes this insufficiency God’s problem.

Anyway, what kind of proof do non-believers generally demand?

In almost all cases, they demand scientific proof. They say they want tangible, testable evidence that can be verified using the scientific method. Unfortunately for them such a demand in itself is scientifically impossible.

The scientific method is a system of learning that consists of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, prediction, and theory. It is based on logic and observations of the material universe and its properties.

The scientific method, along with a materialistic worldview, by its nature, excludes the observation of transcendent things that exist independent of the universe.

Instead of demanding that God offer better proof or relying on the false premise that science can ever offer proof, maybe skeptics should spend some time thinking about the absurdity of a world without God.

Can dancing to drumbeat of blind, pitiless indifference be all there is?

Some say yes. I find that thought terrifying.

“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice.

The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares.

DNA just is.


And we dance to its music.”

Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995)

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Categories: Apologetics, Christianity

Tags: , , , , ,

30 replies

  1. If atheists really don’t believe in God then why blame Him for everything? I guess they see God as a big scape-goat in the sky…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Exactly. The scientific method cannot test what is, by definition, beyond observation.

    It kinda puts atheists in a pickle similar to that of 9/11 conspiracy theorists or moon landing deniers. Is the “official story” highly convenient and profitable for those promoting it? Yep. Is it still the likeliest explanation? Yep.

    Apologies to any truthers out there…

    Like

  3. Tangible proof will be interpreted as something else much of the time. If it looks scientific, someone can always say it isn’t God. To demand that kind of proof in the kind of way you are describing is to say, “Give me something I can control.” That type of evidence does not engender reverence.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Q: Hey kids, what kind of generation demands a sign?
    A: A wicked and adulterous one!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Isn’t this an old post from a year or two ago, now resurrected?

    Regardless, it sounds like “evidence” is being impugned like it’s a dirty word here.

    A fair definition of faith is ‘belief in something without significant evidence’, and in some cases it’s even ‘belief in spite of the evidence’. If evidence for a person’s belief was truly substantial and significant, faith is no longer necessary. And I have to ask, is a faith that is unchallenged really any faith at all?

    It appears here that the argument is more about each person’s interpretation of the evidence that we see and what can be validated (if possible). And if you argue that “a generation that demands a sign [evidence] is wicked”, then what is your argument against Islam? Or Mormonism? Or Scientology? Each of those faiths make claims and say that they have their own evidence to support it. Do you take them at their word and conclude they just offer another way to an afterlife?

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    • Hi Clay,

      This is older but it was in draft so I’m not certain it was ever published.

      A lot going on here so, let’s take your comment one point at a time.

      Evidence isn’t being impugned here at all, I rather like evidence myself.

      What the post means to point out is that the evidence for God most skeptics demand will never be provided and that’s, I think, why they ask for it.

      The great atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell was once asked what he would say if he found himself standing before God on judgment day and God asked him, “Why didn’t you believe in Me?” Russell replied, “I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!’”

      Seems like a valid point but it’s really tragic and sad, especially since God will tell those who go to their graves demanding evidence that they are “without excuse.”

      James

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is reasonable, nay, critical to demand a certain level of evidence for any extraordinary claim.

        Islam claims that Christians lost the real truth of the God of Abraham. They claim that the early prophets and early Christian church corrupted the truth. They claim that Muhammad (a prophet that is more modern than Jesus or any other Biblical prophet) has revealed a more accurate truth. Their prophet claims to have flown to heaven on a horse (Buraq) which had a human face. Hey, their holy book says so! Roughly 1.6 billion people believe it! Their holy book also includes statements of “And God said…”.

        Why don’t you believe Islam?

        Or take the Mormons, an even more modern faith than Islam. The integrity and holiness of most Mormons puts most Christians to shame. Mormons claim that their patriarch found golden plates which contained religious text delivered by God, which Joseph Smith transcribed. Their faith is less than 200 years old, and if we chose to rely on the evidence of personal conduct by its followers as an important consideration, especially when contrasted to Christians, the Christian church doesn’t look too good in comparison.

        So why aren’t you a Mormon?

        The answer is likely the same for most of us in the USA. We grew up with the Christian faith. Maybe our parents were Christians. Or our grandparents, or other relatives were. Or maybe not. Regardless, Christianity is on the radio, on tv, in bookstores, magazines, music CDs, etc. Churches are *everywhere*. So naturally, it doesn’t seem odd to us. Many (most?) of us heard the story of Noah’s ark as a child. We heard about a talking snake in the garden, etc. But had we grown up in Egypt, Islam would have surrounded us and the story of a prophet who flew to heaven on a horse which had the face of a woman — it wouldn’t seem that outrageous to us.

        Evidence makes a difference. Taking off the rose-colored glasses and given honest and sincere consideration to the criticisms of the Bible and of the Christian faith is healthy. When any religious faith is up for consideration, the extraordinary claims demand it.

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        • I don’t believe in any of those religions because of the law of noncontradiction.

          Your comment is kind of all over the place and nonsensical. For example, stating that most Mormons are holier and have more integrity is not only not true, it is not relevant to the post.

          As far as extraordinary evidence goes. You, as a skeptic, must require extraordinary evidence because it enables you to retain your presupposition should the extraordinary level of the evidence not be met. Requiring extraordinary evidence effectively stacks the deck against the claims religion makes. Really just a logical trick, not sound reasoning.

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          • My comment about Mormons and their conduct refers to a type of evidence. The Bible claims “you will know them by their fruit”. Christianity makes a claim of changing lives (as do other religious faiths). I was a sincere dedicated Christian for a long time, and I worked along side many “brothers/sisters” in a variety of churches spanning 30 years. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with many Mormons over the years, and I used to also visit/work in Utah. So my statement goes to the evidence I saw, which is, that most Mormons I encountered demonstrated greater Christ-like conduct than the Christians I got to know and served along side of. Are there good & bad people in both “camps”? Obviously. Certainly. But Mormon conduct (in my experience) out-shined Christian conduct.

            Thus, it is relevant to the post as a type of evidence vs. a claim.

            And I agree that those other religions contradict Christianity, and thus if someone is convinced in the truth of Christianity, it makes sense to dismiss the others. My point is that our confirmation bias blinds us to honestly consider criticisms of Christianity. We can easily rip apart the beliefs of other religions, but most find it too frightening to seriously grapple with their doubts in their chosen faith.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Again, and no how matter you make the case, Mormon conduct has nothing to do whatsoever with Christianity or its validity.

            Regarding your last statement. Do most people actually find it frightening to wrestle with their faith? Seems like a baseless claim without the evidence you yourself seem fond of.

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          • Regarding my last statement, you’re right, I am stating an opinion. It’s a reasonable opinion based on logic and conversations with Christians over 30 years. People are reluctant to seriously wrestle with doubt because it’s scary.

            That aside, I’d like to summarize a few previous items:

            1. Christianity claims to change people’s lives and it claims you can know a true Christian by their conduct. Other religions make similar claims and I specifically point at Mormonism as an example, and I cite that the Christ-like conduct of Mormons refutes the claim of Christianity’s exclusivity. The poor conduct and hypocrisy of many Christians is another strike against the claims of Christianity. But you feel this argument isn’t valid, perhaps because you don’t like the conclusion rather than the validity of it all.

            2. I point out that faith is belief without evidence (as otherwise, faith isn’t needed when evidence is abundantly clear and obvious). Since there’s no rebuttal, perhaps we agree here.

            3. You state that you don’t believe the other religions because of the law of noncontradiction. A Muslim or Mormon could say the same thing about Christianity though. You haven’t said why Christianity is true while the other major religions are false.

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          • Let’s take one point first, shall we?

            “People are reluctant to wrestle with doubt…”

            This assumes an awful lot, wouldn’t you say? Namely, I think, you believe that if people are willing to seriously wrestle with doubt, doubt will win and faith will crumble. This is not so at all. I, for example, have never wrestled with doubt at all. I have however, studied every argument against Christianity I have seen in the past 20 years and have found them all lacking.

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          • “Christianity claims to change people’s lives…”

            True and it does not change everyone who claims to be a Christian, I won’t argue that. But, is that the fault of the faith or of men with a sin nature?

            Like

          • “Faith is belief without evidence…”

            This isn’t necessarily true, there is plenty of evidence that suggests Christianity is likely true, most of it has been written about on this blog.

            Sure, faith is required but it’s not blind irrational faith.

            Like

          • While I do rule out other religions on the basis of noncontradiction, that is not the only reason. No other religion, despite what it’s adherents say, stands up to scrutiny like Christianity does.

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          • You say that my statement, “faith is belief without evidence” isn’t true. Another way I could say it is, “faith is belief without proof”. If you disagree, can you define the word “faith” as to what you think it means? And can you do so without quoting a Bible verse (e.g., “the substance of things hoped for”)?

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          • I said the statement “faith without evidence” isn’t entirely accurate becuase it implies that there is no evidence when there is and that faith is unreasonable.

            Without proof would be better. But, if there were irrefutable proof, what reason would people have not to believe? Would we have free will or would we be forced to believe even if we didn’t want to?

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          • Regarding the power of the gospel to change people, you blamed ‘faulty faith’ for those who fail to exhibit holy behavior. It must be a really tiny percentage then of the Christian population who are ‘truly saved’ given the data we see about moral behavior for those who claim to be Christian vs. the rest of the population. If even just 20% who claim the label are truly saved, the statistics about divorce rates and pornography consumption would skew in Christianity’s favor. But that’s not the case. The Federal prison stats don’t paint a positive picture either for Christians.

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          • Faulty faith or our sin nature, I’ll buy either. Regardless, it has nothing to do with the validity of Christianity.

            In all honesty, using your numbers, it wouldn’t surprise me much if 80 percent of the people who thought they were going to Heaven ended up somewhere else instead. Again though, this is a people problem, not a Christianity problem.

            Like

  6. Hey james, how about this idea:

    Your atheism (so-called) has nothing to do with me.

    Whether I can count to three, tie my shoes, invent a wireless toaster, memorize the bible, is irrelevant as to the excuses of others.

    A person is an atheist not because of a lack of evidence or proof, but because they WANT to. If life itself is not convincing, or the scriptures which confirm life, then oh well, rebellion wins the day.

    There is no excuse, the atheist has NO excuse. The burden of proof lies on the stubborn. One cannot simply dismiss life. This is the missing ingredient from the brain of the godless.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lastly, you say that Christianity stands up to scrutiny. Most evangelicals that I know believe that every word (in the original language) of the Bible is inspired and that the writings have “amazing unity” and consistency — proof of the Bible’s validity.

    I’d like to suggest a future blog post for you, from Dan Baker’s Easter challenge. I’ll quote him here. “The challenge is simply this: tell me what happened on Easter. I am not asking for proof. My straightforward request is merely that Christians tell me exactly what happened on the day that their most important doctrine was born.

    Believers should eagerly take up this challenge, since without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. Paul wrote, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.” (I Corinthians 15:14-15)

    The conditions of the challenge are simple and reasonable. In each of the four Gospels, begin at Easter morning and read to the end of the book: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21. Also read Acts 1:3-12 and Paul’s tiny version of the story in I Corinthians 15:3-8. These 165 verses can be read in a few moments. Then, without omitting a single detail from these separate accounts, write a simple, chronological narrative of the events between the resurrection and the ascension: what happened first, second, and so on; who said what, when; and where these things happened.

    Since the gospels do not always give precise times of day, it is permissible to make educated guesses. The narrative does not have to pretend to present a perfect picture–it only needs to give at least one plausible account of all of the facts. Additional explanation of the narrative may be set apart in parentheses. The important condition to the challenge, however, is that not one single biblical detail be omitted. Fair enough?”

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    • I am not going to do a post on The Easter Challenge for a few reasons but mostly because the entire ensuing discussion would have to presuppose that, if the Bible is the word of God, then there would be no errors at all. Both atheists and Christians who discuss the Easter Challenge always make that assumption and argue on that foundation. But, what good reasons are there to think that?

      Perhaps God allowed his people to tell the story as they recounted it, even if some of the details were different or even seemingly contradictory. A tenable theory of inspiration does not demand inerrancy on the atheist’s terms. There could potentially be errors. If there are, it should not bother Christians.

      Bottom line, no one should not take the position that the entire faith will collapse if one mistake is found in the Bible.

      Also, why would someone who claims to have been a Christian for 34 years ask a blogger to complete a silly challenge that has been answered countless times already. What is the point? What do you stand to gain?

      Like

      • James, you’re a smart fellow and I sincerely wish you well. I was brought back to your blog because for some odd reason, your post triggered an automatic email to me, like those I would have gotten had I previously posted a comment to a post, which is one reason I thought perhaps this was an older post that was resurrected. I meant no ill will.

        I’ve asked you enough questions and I don’t mean to try your patience. Sometimes a little friction sharpens the sword, yeah? Anyway, best to you and your family.

        Liked by 1 person

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