What is the core defense of Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
So we’re back to Humphrys book again and at the start, he is going on the same old game that we always see. The idea of the evangelical is of course that with Jesus you can go to Heaven. Now I am a critic of this in that we treat Jesus as a means to an end, our own joy, without considering that we in response are to serve as well. We also then ignore what we are supposed to do on Earth. The purpose of Christianity is to get you to Heaven! End of story!
Humphrys does say the problem is no one can prove this. Well first off, we should take the idea of Near-Death Experiences seriously. We cannot veridically prove Heaven in some sense like that, but shouldn’t we consider that if people have these experiences, there might be something to them? I understand fully that this is not proof, of course, but it is still evidence.
Naturally, Humphrys says evangelical promises come without a shred of evidence, despite, you know, him referencing a William Lane Craig debate where he gave five pieces of evidence for belief in the existence of God and the only response was that none of it was true. Now some people could be believers on poor evidence, and I’m sure they are, but there are many intellectual people who are believers on grounds of solid evidence. Humphrys can say they’re wrong, but they’re still using evidence.
Then at the end of this chapter we’re covering, he says the core defense of Christians is that if they could prove it, it wouldn’t be faith. This is a horrid misunderstanding on many levels. For one thing, there is plenty in this world we accept as true that cannot be proven, such as scientific truths. These are inductive truths. They’re only known with greater degrees of probability.
Second, there is a great difference between not being able to prove something and having no evidence whatsoever for it. In a court of law, a prosecution is not told to prove that the defendant did the crime. They are to make a case that eliminates reasonable doubt. That doesn’t mean they get up and say “I can’t prove it, so it must be faith.”
A lawyer will produce his evidence, his opponent will reply, and then it is up to the jury to decide based on the evidence. It could be everyone agrees on the evidence presented, but the interpretation is different. This is something that you see regularly if you read mystery novels. There can be a lot of evidence that makes it look like X did the crime, but then when all is revealed, it turns out Y did it and you look back and say “Of course. Now it makes sense.” Despite that, the evidence NEVER changed. It’s the interpretation that did.
Finally, and obviously, Humphrys does not know what faith is, any more than the new atheists that he relies on knows what it is. I have written this article that I refer to time and time again. When Humphrys thinks he’s criticizing my position, he’s not. If this is what he thinks it is, I can see why he thinks the new atheists are so persuasive. Unfortunately, when you go against the real thing, it’s easy to see why they are not persuasive.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)