Facts v. Evidence

Christians are often told that the Bible and its accompanying claims do not qualify as "real evidence." This brief article exposes the misconceptions behind this argument.


When a detective investigates a crime scene, he looks for any and all evidence that may be relevant to the case. This includes eyewitness testimony, which he usually scribbles down in his book to evaluate later. The factsof the case, however, are what the detective continually returns to throughout his investigation. The facts—the pieces of information that are directlyverifiable via the senses—become the basis for judging the accuracy and explanatory power of eyewitness statements. The facts do not require inference/interpretation.


When a person investigates the fundamental mysteries of our universe, literally everything--every facet of our world--qualifies as evidence. The solution to such mysteries will ultimately need to account for the full scope of human experience and all observations of the cosmos. This means that the evidence encompasses far more than the tangible, concrete evidence of our world and universe. General facets of life qualify as evidence—things like pain, pleasure, instincts, communication, aging, death, intelligence, sleep, humor, emotions, philosophy, aesthetics, war, morality, ethics, self-consciousness, etc.… Religious claims and claims of supernatural phenomenon also qualify as evidence.


When evaluating such claims, it quickly becomes apparent that there are manyconflicting claims to divine revelation. Like eyewitness testimony in a criminal investigation, these claims should be evaluated on their internal consistency, coherency, alignment with the facts, and explanatory power. To this end, it is critical to distinguish the real facts. The factsare the indisputable things we see and experience day to day that do not require inference/interpretation: Celestial bodies move. Humans congregate. Living organisms reproduce and eventually die. Humans experience pain and pleasure. Etc.


Insisting that religious claims are not “real evidence” implies that one can simply throw them away without any real detriment to the investigation. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anyof those religious claims to divine revelation are true, then they will reveal far,farmore than a simple evaluation of the facts would. Just consider: those who rely on the scientific method alone could never hope to trump direct first-hand knowledge from a transcendent deity.




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© 2020 by S.P. Clifton