An answer from the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society

Last Friday, I paid a visit to the Manawatu Christian Apologetics society, commenting on “What would it take for a Darwinist to change his mind.” To my delight, the “admin” approved my comments, and responded:

By admin on Sep 14, 2007 | ReplyDear Professor. You personally believe many things without verifiable evidence. In Jesus’ day, people saw miracles firsthand but later rejected them.

Evidence is somewhat of an excuse because however much evidence you are given, you will always demand more because of your underlying presuppositions and bias against the supernatural. Enjoy the debate.

As for evolutionists changing their minds — so why do you believe them if their evidence keeps changing? Do you have sufficient evidence that it is true or are you taking it on faith? If so, I would point out that perhaps a double standard is at work

Notice how the apologist responds to my comment. I pointed out that all it takes to change a “Darwinist’s” mind is verifiable evidence. The apologist tries to imply that evidence is not really necessary. In other words, he’s changing the subject. He hasn’t got any evidence, so he’d rather talk about people (including evolutionists) basing their beliefs on faith alone.

He also wants to assume that we can’t rely on the evidence, because our personal biases will always resist the evidence, “because however much evidence you are given, you will always demand more because of your underlying presuppositions and bias…” (Perhaps he’s thinking of Michael Behe’s approach to evidence?) Mr. Admin’s assumption, however, is not true: I (like so many others) did ask for evidence that was contrary to my beliefs, and when I saw the evidence, I changed my mind. Of course, I was a conservative Christian creationist at the time.

But the best part of Mr. Admin’s response is the question, “Why do you believe [evolutionists] if their evidence keeps changing?” Notice the subtle twisting of the word there. It’s not the evidence that changes, it’s science’s understanding of biology that changes. But Mr. Admin knows the evidence is against him, and therefore he regards it with suspicion, as something that tells a different story every time.

Fortunately, the evidence (as in the real-world evidence) does not contradict itself, or randomly change its story every time we look at it. We may find it difficult to understand at times, and our description of it may become more precise as we understand it better. We may even debate the different possible interpretations that could be adopted (pending further information). But overall, the evidence tells a story that is consistent with itself and with the rest of the evidence. And that’s one of the hallmarks, if not the defining mark, of truth itself.

So yes, I do have an evidence-based faith, which is a faith based on the internal and external self-consistency of the evidence. That’s as opposed to gullible faith, which is a faith you hold onto despite a lack of evidence, or even despite contrary evidence, just because men say you should believe it. There’s no double standard involved in preferring both evidence and evidence-based faith over the unsubstantiated and inconsistent stories of men. The former upholds the principle that truth is consistent with itself; and the latter contradicts it. The ultimate and infallible single standard is that truth is consistent with itself.

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Posted in Field Trip, Unapologetics. 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “An answer from the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society”

  1. mrrage Says:

    I’ve been a reading your blog for a few weeks, and have enjoyed it. I thought I’d finally chime in with some comments on this admin’s message.

    “you will always demand more because of your underlying presuppositions and bias against the supernatural.”

    I swear that Christians have a hard on for special pleading arguments. The Christian is bias for the supernatural. So what? The issue is how do we minimize bias? I’ve found that evangelical Christians don’t try to overcome their biases at all.

    “As for evolutionists changing their minds — so why do you believe them if their evidence keeps changing?”

    As for creationists changing their minds – so why do you believe them if their arguments keep changing?

  2. The Professor Says:

    Thanks. That’s a fun link, too. Amazing how many times you hear these creationist arguments popping up, even after they’ve been debunked by creationists!

  3. gaysolomon Says:

    I can’t help but be reminded of Carl Sagan’s line “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    The corollary of course, is that claims requiring no evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

  4. The Professor Says:

    I was thinking some more about this on my way in to work this morning, especially the remark about “evidence is somewhat of an excuse.”

    Imagine, if you will, that Joe is a huge Bigfoot fan (no pun intended). One day, as Joe is strolling out in the woods, he hears a noise, and discovers Mama Bigfoot actually giving birth. Keeping hidden, he pulls out his trusty camcorder and videotapes the birth. But alas, Baby Bigfoot is stillborn. The grieving mother howls mournfully and scrapes out a crude, shallow grave for her infant. After a long, tearful farewell (all caught on tape), she leaves, and Joe unhesitatingly digs up the tiny corpse and hurries home.

    At this point, Joe gets on the phone and calls Nature magazine. “What would it take to convince you that Bigfoot was real?” he asks. “Not much, replies the editor, “just some solid, verifiable evidence, like a tissue sample or body or something.”

    Pop quiz: what will Joe say next?

    (a) “Ah, well, evidence is somewhat of an excuse, you see. It keeps changing all the time, so why would anyone trust it? Besides, you’re so biased you wouldn’t believe the evidence anyway.”

    (b) “Great! I’ve got actual video footage of Bigfoot giving birth, and the baby was stillborn, and I’ve got the remains right here. Can you send someone over to examine them?”

  5. Ryan Says:

    I ran into a similar debate about evidence a while ago, where a Christian complained about evidence and support being culturally-relative, and not good enough reason to accept one thing over another. I debated him until he tersely replied of how science concepts like falsifiability are “myths perpetuated by science”.

    It’s an uphill battle with these guys; a game of cornering their many baseless statements.

    Since last I checked, they’ve still not replied to you. I doubt you would receive something in quality anyway, If you do some googling on the Evolution-debater, Ruse, you’ll find he’s also a Christian, and his position, while standard, doesn’t seemed to be very informed in Creationist tactics. I have a feeling he’ll be publicly humiliated.

  6. Manawatu Round 3: Can we interpret the evidence reliably? « Evangelical Realism Says:

    […] An answer from the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society […]

  7. PalMD Says:

    The truth is too liberal, as they say, so you can’t rely on the truth…you have to make up weird religio-babble to explain the universe so that it isn’t so spooky. Of course once reality has pissed you off too much to rely on it, and you cross over into supernatural explanations, you are on unsure footing…if Jesus’s resurrection is possible, so is anyting. Hence, the Flying Spag, Monster, etc.

    Those who are believers should focus on what their belief means, and stop trying to selectively use science to explain their “reality”.