Is evidence the same as proof? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
A lot of people in dialogue, especially on the internet, will regularly state that there’s no evidence for a position. There is also the belief that if a position is false, there will be no evidence for it. Both of these statements are false and show someone has a bad idea of knowledge and truth.
Evidence is data that would lend credibility to a position. Proof is something that makes it absolutely certain. There is very little that we have proof for. Mathematics is one such area. Logic is another. Note with logic however that it alone cannot show if something is true. It can show you something is false.
Logic depends on the data that you give it. Consider the following syllogism.
All dolphins have six legs.
Lassie is a dolphin.
Lassie has six legs.
This syllogism is entirely accurate. If the premises are true, the conclusion follows with certainty. Unfortunately, the data is not true.
Now let’s consider another one.
All men are rational.
Gabriel is rational.
Gabriel is a man.
This one is not valid. Gabriel could be the name of your male neighbor down the street or his son. It could also be the angel Gabriel and even if you’re an atheist reader, for the sake of argument, it can be realized the argument makes sense. You can see this works this way by replacing the terms.
All cats have four legs.
Lassie has four legs.
Lassie is a cat.
The problem is that there are many other things that have four legs that are not cats. Thus, you have to make a statement about the cats and not the legs. The syllogism doesn’t work. Again, this is all based on the data you plug in.
Mathematics is another area that has proof in it. We don’t have to repeatedly test mathematics. It just works that way. Notice one area wasn’t mentioned at all science.
That’s right. There is no proof in science. That doesn’t mean it’s unreliable. There are areas that we can be practically certain of because the data is so good. This does mean that a creationist can say that evolution is not proven, which is true, but that doesn’t mean it’s false or even likely false. It could still mean really good data needs to be presented otherwise. Again, that’s a debate for the scientists and not for me.
The same applies to history. I fully admit this even saying Christianity is a historical claim that depends on history. I think the Thomistic arguments for God’s are certain as they are deductive arguments and if the data put in is right and there are no logical fallacies, which I support, then God certainly exists. Christianity does not have proof in that sense, but I think it does have really good evidence.
Someone could claim there is no proof, for example, that Jesus died by crucifixion. This is true, but the data for it is so good that the burden is definitely on the skeptic to show otherwise. Again, there is plenty of evidence so much so that we are at the area of what is considered practical proof.
Now while I said there is proof I think for God, is there any evidence for atheism? Yes. The problem of evil. Do I consider this convincing evidence? No. There is too much evidence on the other side in my opinion.
This can happen politically as well. Consider when Brett Kavanaugh was being confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The question came up if he was guilty of rape in the past. Was there evidence? Yes. There was a claim brought forth by someone heard before Congress and there were many stories later retracted. Saying there were stories doesn’t mean they were convincing stories. Many of us were highly skeptical.
What can we learn from this kind of information? Saying something has evidence for it does not mean that it is true. Anyone who reads a mystery can see this. In a court case, both sides will bring forward evidence. The evidence only works really for one side. The other side is misinterpreting the data or some of the data is just false.
It also means that to say there is no proof of a claim is not a problem. There isn’t proof for scientific claims, but that doesn’t mean it’s ridiculous to believe them. I’m not going to try to walk across the interstate with traffic blazing by because there’s no proof that it will hurt me if I get hit by a car. There is some really good evidence.
It’s also largely atheists going with this. Anyone who says there is no evidence for God or the New Testament just doesn’t understand evidence. At the same time, science is treated as if it’s the strongest area of proof when it isn’t. Science has some of the greatest practical benefit to us, but it doesn’t equal proof.
Be on the lookout for this. Evidence is not a clincher and very little has proof.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)