Rapid Response: “You Can’t Be Certain About the Claims of Christianity”
by J Warner Wallace
In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following statement: “No one can be absolutely certain about ancient historical claims, and the Bible can’t be proven beyond a possible doubt. The claims of Christianity are dramatic and critical. If you want me to believe these kinds of claims you’d have to be able to prove them beyond any doubt.” How would you respond to such a statement? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:
“I can empathize with this sort of concern. In fact, I often hear similar statements from prospective jurors in criminal trials. During the jury selection process, we sometimes ask jurors if they will be able to make a decision, even though they may have unanswered questions or possible doubts. If they say they wouldn’t be able to render a verdict unless every question is answered and every doubt resolved, we simply excuse them from service. Why? Because the standard of proof (the SOP) in our homicide trials isn’t “beyond a possible doubt,” it’s “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and there’s a big difference between these two standards.
Think about it for a minute. There are very few things you know with certainty beyond a possible doubt. I’ve never had a criminal case that wasn’t plagued by several unanswered questions. Even when a case is only a few decades old, there are still many uncertainties I can’t resolve for the jury. As a result, they may have a few possible doubts. These possible doubts shouldn’t prevent them from rendering a verdict, however…
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