A Fresh Start to an Intellectual Journey: Can Belief in God Be Evidence Based?

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This is an article I penned for the Cornerstone Institute newsletter.

Is there evidence for God or is belief in God just another archaic superstition that has no place in our sophisticated modern world?

These are contentious questions that will receive numerous responses. The naturalist would respond with a no in hope to affirm a godless philosophy. Alternatively, a Christian apologist, one who gives evidence and reasons for belief, would say yes. Still others would disagree on what type of God or gods they believe in. However, few would disagree that this is perhaps the most important existential question anyone could ask.

Since becoming an apologist I’ve witnessed how many people who claim to believe in God do not actually know why they do or, if pressed, they cannot offer reasons for their belief. For any critical thinker this is deemed problematic. How does someone put so much devotion into a belief system if they do not actually know if that their belief system corresponds to reality?

Think of it like this. You are willing to put down a huge sum of money on a nice house, however, the estate agent fails to justify the price expected for the house. In fact, the house is scarcely worth half of the demanded price. Thus, in applying common sense one would quite naturally refrain from committing to purchasing the house. We could extend this into other spheres of life too though I think the analogy suffices. However, it is clear that religions and belief in God are far too often exempt from this critical reflection. Most people simply believe without evidence or reason, and that is positively worrying. There are reasons for this that could range from societal, cultural and familial pressures, and to the emotional makeup of human beings chasing after purpose and meaning in life.

A most vivid example of a lack of critical reflection was best seen when I visited a large Christian bookstore very recently. Christian bookstores, especially this one, are packed with books on how to live the Christian life, how to emulate Jesus himself, or on how to make the most of one’s life in a God honouring way. For the Christian these are all very good and very necessary things, and Christianity would be far worse off without them. However, often this comes to the detriment of the apologetics genre which is isolated to but a handful of shelves.

The keen observer would walk away with an incredibly lopsided view of the Christian faith. He would see a belief that has done incredibly well in instilling its values in the lives of the faithful, but he’d also witness an incredible lack of evidential reflection. This is changing slowly as apologetics grows in response to the increasing secular and post-Christian ideals and values of our societies. There are far more people challenging a Christian worldview today than there have ever been in history and, as a result, many have walked away from salvation because they’re left with no-one who can reasonably justify the Christian faith to them.

But it is time for a fresh start! There will be moments in our lives in which we will be put on the spot because of our Christian beliefs. It is thus imperative that we can give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). Now, one needn’t be a scholar to do so as several of the arguments and evidences for belief in God and Jesus’ deity are easily understood and remembered. I’d certainly recommend Jim Wallace, a now retired homicide detective, and his website Cold Case Christianity. For the more philosophically minded William Lane Craig is your best bet, so check out Reasonable Faith. Those more into the hard sciences will like geneticist Francis Collins who runs Biologos. Each of these, and dozens of others, have assisted me in my own journey. Familiarizing oneself with basic apologetics is simply a necessity in this day and age.

We should have good reasons for thinking that Christianity is true before we dedicate ourselves completely to it.” -J.P. Moreland (Philosopher & Christian Apologist)


4 responses to “A Fresh Start to an Intellectual Journey: Can Belief in God Be Evidence Based?

  1. A great article James. When Jesus was questioned by his friend John the baptizer about his credentials he used the results of his visible works. Our claim to follow Christ can only be by our blessing of others lives. The nature of God in our World today can only be measured by character, actions and wisdom [the divine presence].

  2. I agree with you. For me, I find I go primarily by the grand design of things and the way the world works best is found in certain “laws” that we seem to stupid to follow but prove to be true in the end despite our inability to make the connections between action and result/consequence. None of this is random. Additionally I’ve seen some strange miracles I can’t deny.

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