Yes, the Christian Worldview Is Supported by the Evidence
by J Warner Wallace
Richard Dawkins once famously said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” He’s also quoted saying, “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.” Dawkins isn’t the only atheist who believes Christianity can’t be supported by evidence. Sam Harris said, “When considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t. Religion is one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies.” Statements such as these, while they are rhetorically powerful, expose a lack of understanding about the nature of evidence. Dawkins and Harris aren’t professional case makers, and they aren’t familiar with the broad categories of evidence we use in criminal and civil trials every day. Detectives and prosecutors understand anything can be assessed evidentially. There are only two categories of evidence, and Christian Case Makers use both types of evidence when making a case for Christianity:
Category One: Direct Evidence
Category Two: Indirect (Circumstantial) Evidence
Judges help jurors understand the difference between these two forms of evidence. In California, judges provide the following instruction to jurors: “Facts may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence or by a combination of both. Direct evidence can prove a fact by itself. For example, if a witness testifies he saw it raining outside before he came into the courthouse, that testimony is direct evidence that it was raining. Circumstantial evidence also may be called indirect evidence. Circumstantial evidence does not directly prove the fact to be decided, but is evidence of another fact or group of facts from which you may logically and reasonably conclude the truth of the fact in question. For example, if a witness testifies that he saw someone come inside wearing a raincoat covered with drops of water, that testimony is circumstantial evidence because it may support a conclusion that it was raining outside” (CalCrim Section 223). Starting to understand the difference? The vast majority of cases tired in America are primarily circumstantial. In fact, none of my cold cases have ever benefitted from direct evidence. When you don’t have an eyewitness who can identify your suspect, you have to build the case cumulatively from all the indirect pieces of evidence you do have.
If you’re like other people in America, you probably think of circumstantial evidence in a disparaging way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “Oh, that’s just a circumstantial case.” Indirect evidence gets a bad rap in the press these days. Maybe that’s why people are confused about its value in criminal trials. Judges instruct juries to be careful not to think of circumstantial evidence negatively. In fact, jurors are told to give circumstantial evidence the exact same weight in their considerations…
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