How Much Evidence Is Sufficient?

Christian apologists have presented several lines of proof for the knowability of truth, the existence of a theistic God, and the accuracy of the Bible. On the other side, severe skeptics and atheists routinely dismiss these arguments as insufficient.

I’ve always been curious of how much evidence would be sufficient? When I’ve asked this a few times to atheists, I’ve not gotten an answer that could prove any historical accounts. When asked “how much evidence would it take for you to put your trust in Christianity?” the responses have always been something that could be done in front of them, over and over, etc. OK, fine, fair enough. No problem with wanting proof.

But I submit that there are a couple of problems with such responses. First, I actually do not believe these responses. I do not think they would believe in Jesus even if He were to walk into a graveyard and raise a long-dead body from the grave, and do it in front of scientists, community leaders, and reporters. They still would not believe. Why? Because Jesus did just that (in John 11) and some of the people who witnessed it did not want to believe, therefore they did not. It just made them more determined to stamp out this Jesus guy. Second, demanding current demonstration is not how anything in history works. I do not know how many skeptics or atheists have studied proving things using strict methods, but it is impossible to “prove” anything in history to an iron-clad level of certainty. In fact, you cannot “prove” that you existed before 5 minutes ago, placed here with false memories of your life. The level of proof asked for by modern skeptics and atheists are simply not acheivable by anything in history.

So what can apologetics do and not do? Apologetics cannot bend the human will. No amount of evidence or reasoning can make someone change their mind if they do not want to. For such a person, no argument exists that is valid, no amount of historical corroboration will ever be sufficient, no amount of demonstrating that their position is logically falacious will ever suffice. If this is you, admit it to yourself and stop pretending that you are looking for evidence. Simply be honest and admit to yourself that you do not want to believe. 

Apologetics can do an excellent job of removing excuses that people use to justify their non-belief. If you truly believe that you would turn to faith if given sufficient evidence or line of reasoning, please continue in your pursuit. Christianity is, at its core, not a religion but a relationship with a Person, is reasonable and logical, and has plenty of valid evidence to support it. Just do not think that it will change the mind of someone whose mind is determined to not be changed.   

For example, atheist Christopher Hitchens has stated his problem with an authoritarian God. I do not claim to know what is going on inside Mr. Hitchens mind, but if it is the case that he will not stand for the idea of a God who is supreme power and authority, then his mind will be changed by no amount of historical data, no logical argument, no archeological dig, no ancient document (no matter how validly proven), and no miracle that happened right in front of him in his lab, over and over. None of this would ever be sufficient for such a person. On the other hand, such men as Frank Morrison, who as a non-believer set out to disprove Christianity using the rules of evidence he taught in law school. The result was that Morrison came to faith in Jesus and wrote the book Who Moved The Stone?

I submit that apologetics will work on those who are open to a change of mind, and will not work on those who are not. But those of us who are apologists cannot tell which are in front of us at any given time, so we must persist to follow 1 Peter 3:15.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Atheism, Skepticism. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How Much Evidence Is Sufficient?

  1. dwwork says:

    I agree, I think if all the open minded people out there really were as open to the proof for Christianity as they are for everything else they would have to find some other reason not to believe.

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