God: Are You There? A Cumulative Case for the Existence of God
by Eric Chabot
Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that helps give reasons for the truthfulness of the Christian faith/worldview. Within apologetics there are a variety of apologetic systems such as classical, historical, scientific, and presuppositional apologetics. In this post I will discuss what is called the cumulative case method.
Advocates of the “cumulative case” method say the nature of the case for Christianity is not in any strict sense a formal argument from probability. In the words of Basil Mitchell, the cumulative case method does “not conform to the ordinary pattern of deductive or inductive reasoning.” The case is more like the brief that a lawyer makes in a court of law or that a literary critic makes for a particular interpretation of a book.
The cumulative case method is an informal argument that pieces together several lines or types of data into a sort of hypothesis or theory that comprehensively explains that data and does so better that any alternative hypothesis.
A Word From Experience
The theist is not opposed to providing evidential support for their beliefs. However, before an individual evaluates the evidence, it must be acknowledged that a person’s response to an argument will always be influenced by his/her past and present personal history. Humans are not only intellectual beings, but emotional and volitional creatures as well.
Hence, it is folly to divorce the objective and subjective nature of evaluating arguments and evidence for God’s existence. Therefore, arguments for God’s existence will always have both a logical and psychological element. Also, there is a relationship between Belief That and Belief In. For example, in James 2:19, it says the demons believe that God exists. Apologetics (giving reasons for the truthfulness of the Christian faith) may serve as a valuable medium through which God can operate, but faith is never the product of historical facts or evidence alone. It also must be noted that sin and a hardened heart can dampen a person’s ability to see the available evidence that is available to them.
Approaching The Existence of God
When it comes to evidence, the skeptical issue in our culture mostly enters into the religious dialogue in the following way: “Do we really know what we think we know-especially in religion- when our beliefs are not properly based on evidence?” And in the case of God, who isn’t some material object, what kind of evidence should we expect to find? Verification has to do with how to test the meaning or truth of a claim. A. J. Ayer, following David Hume, originally claimed that for a statement to be meaningful it had to be either true by definition or else empirically verifiable through one or more of the senses. This principle was a dominant view in philosophy departments during the 1960’s. This view proved to be too narrow and self-defeating since on this ground the principle of empirical verifiability was not itself empirically verifiable. Hence, the verification principle broadened out to other kinds of verification tests such as experiential, historical, and eschatological.
Is Faith Blind?
In my discussion with people I have found that many people quote Hebrews 11:1.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I hear skeptics quote this passage to support the view that faith is blind and not supported by any evidence. Is this correct?
First, don’t quote this verse out of context. It has to be read in light of the rest of the chapter…
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