The Case for Christianity, Unrealistic Expectations and Evidential Modesty
by J Warner Wallace
One of the most important aspects of jury selection is finding jurors who have realistic expectations. If you’re someone who needs a surveillance video from the crime scene before you can be certain about what happened at the time of the murder, you’re not going to be selected for any of my cases. None of the murders I work were recorded on tape. If your someone who thinks that CSI technology should provide us with DNA from every available surface at the crime scene, even years after the murder occurred, you’re not going to be selected as a juror either. There’s a vast difference between the CSI technology portrayed on television shows and the CSI technology available in real life homicide investigations. In short, if your evidential expectations are too high, prosecutors are going to excuse you from jury service. Unrealistic expectations can keep you from discovering the truth. If you can’t get comfortable with the investigative, scientific and evidential limits that are part of every criminal case, you’ll never have evidential certainty about anything. All cases involve unanswered questions; each of us needs to deal with this reality unless we are prepared to be paralyzed by doubt at every turn.
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I’ve seen unreasonable expectations impact the way people view the New Testament. Bart Ehrman clearly held a view of Biblical inerrancy that crippled his opinion of the Gospels once he discovered the presence of textual variants. As an atheist coming to the text for the very first time, I reacted very differently to the alleged “contradictions” I saw in the Gospel accounts and to the discovery of scribal insertions and variants. I had already been working criminal investigations for many years and understood the nature of eyewitness accounts…
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