2004-06-19 21:04:26 UTC
atheists responded with versions of "there is no evidence for Christianity,
go away until you can come up with some."
or as raven put it
"the claims of Christianity simply aren't credible, and are unsupported by
Now at one level, the "no evidence" argument is childishly simple to refute.
People seldom make claims and offer absolutely no evidence. For instance
Loch Ness monster enthusiasts will show you various photographs, Uri Geller
produces bent spoons, frtune tellers will tell you your past life as well as
the future. In all these cases I believe the evidence is less than
conclusive, but the claim of "no evidence" is quite false.
What has happened is that the atheists have used the phrase "no evidence" as
hyperbole for "I think the evidence isn't very good",and then been seduced
by their own rhetoric into elevating it to a philosophical position. "No
evidence" just boils down to "I don't find the evidence conclusive", which
is more or less the same as saying "I'm an atheist".
However there is a deeper reason for the "no evidence" argument. The Deists
disbelieved in the Christian God who begot Jesus and inspired Scripture, but
they still accepted a sort of cut-down version of God the Father, who was
omnipotent and omniscient, the creator of the universe, but didn't do much
except set it in motion. There are very few Deists left, because there
really is very little evidence for the Deist God. We simply don't find
incontrovertible evidence for God in the natural sciences - planets are not
moved by angels, animals are not imbued with vital force, geological
processes take billions of years.
Christians are agnostic on whether any particular natural process is
influenced by the direct action of God or not. At times the Church has been
the scientific establishment of the day, and as always radical new theories
have met with hostility, often justified, but causing scandal when they turn
out to be correct. St Augustine, in the 5th century, criticised the use of
scripture to determine issues of natural philosophy. The question "why isn't
the presence of God obvious to the natural scientist?" is a real one, but it
is not a fatal objection to Christianity.
As for positive evidence, there are literally thousands of alleged miracles.
An atheist has to hold that every one is false, if he isn't to seriously
damage his case.
Something obviously motivated the Early Christians. Christians say that this
was the personality of Jesus, the resurrection, and the coming of the Holy
We can also look at the ethical teachings of the church, and the disastrous
failure of most attempts to improve on them. (One attempt, liberalism, is
still in the balance but showing signs of failing, whilst history is
ambiguous about Protestantism.)
So miracles, 1st century history, and the present witness of the church are
three different types of evidence, which should totally scotch the "no
evidence" canard. Of course you can argue that no miracles are real, that St
Paul got Christianity moving despite the death of Jesus, that Christian
ethics are in fact worse than liberal, Communist, Islamic, Nazi (take your
pick) ethical systems. The evidence is not so conclusive that no intelligent
person can be an atheist without immediate absurdity. However let's conclude
that the evidence is there, and that atheist attacks on it are not