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Show Me the Evidence

July 24th, 2014 | 7 Comments | Posted in Developing Discernment, Logical Fallacies

Magnifying glassYesterday, in preparation for homeschooling my daughter, I ran across a gem of truth–a truth that each person must learn if they want to be able to distinguish reality from baloney. Unfortunately, many adults have not yet learned this truth. As a result, they’ve accepted all kinds of erroneous beliefs, including beliefs about spiritual matters.

What is it? It’s the truth that evidence is required to substantiate beliefs. Let me explain.

I came across this truth in a book called Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2. The author, Dr. Bernard J. Nebel, includes a section called the “Baloney Detection Kit,” where he lists different types of illogical thinking people often fall into. One type of illogical thinking Nebel challenges is the belief that declaring one’s view forcefully makes it true. But, as he points out, stating something passionately–with much conviction–does not make a belief true. Only evidence can do that. Here are his words.

We often hear people say, “It’s a fact that…,” “Everyone knows that…,” or “People say that….” Indeed, such a declaration may be a fact, but it may not be. Students should learn that some people promote their own particular prejudice, opinion, or mistaken belief by forcefully declaring it to be a fact or the truth or labeling it as something “everyone knows.” Conversely, people may try to counter factual information by declaring it to be stupid, idiotic, or worse. Very simply, facts and truth are what they are. Try as some people might, the real facts are not subject to alteration by human pronouncement. The best we can do is look beyond the declaration and try to examine the basic reality.

“Show me the evidence!” should be our request to any assertion. This need not be complex. For example, a young student may declare that frogs live in that pond. “Show me the evidence” may lead to the child’s presenting you with a frog she or he caught there. On the other hand, a child may declare that a dragon lives in that pond. “Show me the evidence,” may yield “So and so told me.”

“That is not real evidence,” we would reply. Real evidence might be dragon scales, scorched bushes at the side of the pond from his fiery breath, or perhaps dragon footprints. “Did you see any of these?” If the child answers yes, then ask, “Is a dragon the only possible explanation for the evidence? Could the scorched bush be the result of somebody’s campfire? Could the scales really be clam shells?”

Simplistic as this example may seem, it is still bringing the youngster to understand the concept that a simple declaration should not and does not suffice. Evidence must exist that can stand up to scrutiny. It is the evidence (or lack thereof) that should lead us to believing whether something is true, not the force of someone’s pronouncements.

I don’t agree with everything in Nebel’s book, as elsewhere he seems to argue against the validity of all beliefs in the supernatural. Curiously, he does not offer sufficient evidence for doing so–failing to heed his own advice in this particular instance. Nonetheless, he’s dead on when he argues that evidence is crucial to justifying one’s beliefs.

Evidence is what sets apart the Christian faith from all other belief systems, including atheism. The  historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection has convinced the toughest skeptics. Learn more about it in this article written by William Lane Craig, titled “The Resurrection of Jesus.”

The next time you declare something to be true, ask yourself, “What evidence do I have for that belief?” Follow with, “Is there any other reasonable explanation for the evidence?”

— Holly Pivec

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7 Responses to “Show Me the Evidence”

  1. John Says:

    I think this falls into the area I’m typically at pains to point out as a valid response to an allegation of a miracle.

    One of the issues I constantly come back to with churches like Bethel is that however unscriptural their teaching can be shown to be, they do appear to experience miracles on a regular basis. If none of the miracles were true one might expect that someone would have highlighted the fact that grand claims were made and there was no evidence to support any of them.

    From a personal perspective I look at the claims and have no way of knowing whether a healing occurred at all, and if it did whether the source of the healing was divine, demonic or psychosomatic. Yet many Christians appear to expect a response of either accepting a divine miracle occurred or attributing the work to the devil.

    The easy solution, in the absence of evidence I can see for myself, is the third option that’s so often not presented, which is to say “I don’t know”. Personally I often follow it up with “and I don’t really care” – if I hear a report I can’t confirm that a person I don’t know was healed of a hideous disease it makes no difference to my life whether it’s true or false, divine or demonic. I don’t need that miracle to be divine to believe in a Jesus who died for me, nor do I need that miracle to be faked or demonic to satisfy any other beliefs. So the growing pile of claims get filed in the convenient “don’t know” pile, where they can be largely ignored.

  2. Tom Heward Says:

    Now faith isthe substance of things hoped for, THE EVIDENCE of things not seen.

    Enjoy your blog and as I was reading the above article the word ‘evidence’ continued to come to mind regarding the definition of faith as found in one of the many translations of the Word of God for Hebrews 11:1.

    Spent several years in Tulsa, Oklahoma learning all I could from Kenneth Hagin who had been commissioned by the Lord to teach His People Faith.

    Although the Word and Faith camp did get into considerable error eventually being labeled the NAME IT AND CLAIM IT crowd never-the-less Kenneth Hagin was an excellent teacher and stuck to the Word of God with very little deviation.

    Most of the error of the Word and Faith Camp came for believer’s over-indulging their flesh for “HEALTH & WEALTH” aspects of faith.

    We are currently out here in Southern California and many times prior to beginning to pray for this nation or those God has put in our path to help we will read some of Hagin’s Teachings from His Teachings on Faith and then we find ourselves “praying in faith” versus “praying in hope”.

    I just thought it was interesting you were presenting the “need for evidence” to establish any truth and yet the definition of Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 1 admonishes “the one desiring to be operating in faith” to consider “what God has spoken to your heart either through His Word, A dream or any of the other ways God can speak to His People” to be the truth or evidence of things to be held in your heart if you desire to be operating in the “kind of faith” that pleases the Lord.

    That’s it for now.

  3. Mark Says:

    Hi Holly:  Great reminder and in my case, a very timely one.  Thanks for sharing it….

    Mark

  4. Swise Says:

    I think what I get from what you are saying Holly…is that when we are speaking to either non-Christians and/or false teaching believing Christians, is that the Bible does give us “evidence” as well as historical documents to back us up when discussing/defending the Gospel. 1 Peter 3:14-17 clearly states that we are to give a reason for why we believe(in the Gospel) to those that ask and to do it in a manner that honors the Lord and puts to shame those that speak slander towards you. In the book of Acts, Paul credits the Bereans for their due diligence to go to Scriptures to “prove” that what he was saying was backed up and they believed. Book of Hebrews is a reminder to us about faith and to those that believed via faith…that they trusted in the unseen for the future. To many people today are trusting in the “experience” of Christ alone. They are not being taught sound Biblical doctrine that goes side by side with experiencing the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is a perfect example of this. When tempted by Satan for 40 days…what did Christ do? He quoted God his Father’s words…via old testament scripture! Thank you Holly for the continued fight here for the Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ and to keep sounding the alarm for the false teachings/practices of so many…NAR is just one of, unfortunately many other misleading ideologies…I am doing the same here in my own little community. May the Lord find me as well as many more faithful to Him when the Day comes!

  5. Craig Doriot Says:

    I posted in here some time back,  but saw some email alert and so I wanted to look it up again.  Hundreds of prophecies have been unfolding in complete all around my church body over the past few years.. You love to focus on the false prophecies of bethel and those corrupted movements, but most everyone here has their blinders on to the real move of God.
    Some of the prophecies that have been unfolding lately relate to Ferguson and Obama.  Specifically we were warned to keep an eye on the arches, and He clarified it as “St Louis” and “Amsterdam”. Then He showed a burning skyline.. that was published in 2004.
    But we believe that ties into a bigger prophecy, given in 2009 (at a time of “post-racial America”).  We see much evidence of the specifics of this prophecy unfolding: amped up racial tension fueled by the media, live streaming from phones to TV, etc.
    Anyways, we are now pretty convinced that the “12/12” of this prophecy about massive upheaval in America refers to this very Friday.
    http://www.shoutsofjoyministries.com/prophecies/prophecy-america/

  6. Doug Says:

    Most of the word of faith camp deny the Trinity they call them manifestations

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