What Kind of Evidence Do You Need?

You may have already heard of some startling news that recently occurred. After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago. Not to be outdone by the Brit’s, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story published in the New York Times: “American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British.” One week later, the Department of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 feet in Western Australia, Jack Lucknow, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Jack has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Australia had already gone wireless.” (That joke about evidence came from Kirsty Fenton in Victoria, Australia.)

When most of us hear the word “evidence,” we think of empirical evidence—evidence that can be physically measured and reproduced in the lab. Many in western culture believe that if you can’t reproduce it and observe it, it’s not real evidence. In fact, I have had some people tell me, “I only believe science.” Greg Koukl put it best when he said that the high priest in our culture is the scientist, and his priestly garb is the lab coat.

This view, of course, begs the question. Why should we believe that empirical evidence is the only kind of evidence? I heard someone recently ask it this way: “What empirical evidence would you use to prove that empirical evidence is the only evidence?” That’s a great question! To illustrate the point, there is no scientific evidence to prove logic. Logic is immaterial, so science cannot prove that logic exists. Yet no one I know doubts the existence of logic. In fact, you can’t even prove the scientific method using science!

This brings me to the primary point I want to make. What kind of evidence does one need to prove God exists? In addition, how much evidence is sufficient evidence? My guess is that different people would answer different ways. What’s clear to me is that not everyone is really looking for evidence.

 I was dialoguing with a young lady on Facebook last summer about God. We talked at length about the evidence for God. At one point she finally said, and I quote, “I am not at all convinced a god, much less the god of the bible, exists at all… And even if it can be proven, no matter what, I would not worship/love the god described in the bible because he is a dispicable [sic] character.” Initially, the comment caught me off guard. The more I thought about it, it made all the sense in the world. Just because someone says evidence is the issue doesn’t mean it is. This lady—and many like her—are just looking for a way to escape God and His accountability. The issue is not one of whether He exists or not, but how one might be able to escape Him. At a minimum, people like this ought to have the intellectual integrity to admit they don’t want to believe in God. My experience has been that they’d rather commit intellectual suicide.

 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  —Psalm 14:1