Does Truth and Evidence Even Matter to this New Generation?

by Sean McDowell

My father and I recently updated his classic book Evidence that Demands a Verdict. A handful of people have asked me why we even bothered. After all, don’t we live in a “post-truth” world dominated by feelings?

It certainly is true that this generation tends to see the world through the lens of their feelings. When discussing the meaning of a biblical passage, or a current cultural issue, I find my students increasingly saying things like, “I feel that…” or “It feels to me…”[1] And especially on issues of sex, marriage, and gender, feelings tend to trump science.

Have students therefore abandoned truth? Does the focus on feelings mean we should give up teaching evidence for the faith? For two reasons, this would be a colossal mistake.

First, young people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). And part of being made in the image of God is having minds that are designed to understand and navigate the world. This is a universal truth about human beings. In my talk, “True for You, but Not True for Me,” I try to help student see that they base their daily decisions (sometimes even moment-by-moment decisions) on what they think is true: What time does class start? What assignments are due? Where is practice after school? And so on. As image-bearers, young people are designed to live their lives based on what they think is true.

Second, research shows that this generation cares about evidence. Unsurprisingly, teens today are confused about many issues. For instance, according to…
 

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Does Truth and Evidence Even Matter to this New Generation?