Evidence?

Shouldn’t the lives of the people of God – the people of God themselves – be “evidence for the existence of God”?

I ran into a comment the other day on a blog, on the topic of “the existence of God,” to the effect that “absence of evidence IS evidence of absence, if the evidence should be there.”

And because I wondered what evidence “should” be there that wasn’t, I tried to track that down – unsuccessfully, as it turned out. But in the process I reminded myself how much argument rages on the internet about “the existence of God” and just why I find all that unbearable, and don’t participate in it if I can help it. “Arguments” that don’t address the audience they supposedly address, and chronic talking past one another. What good is any of that?

But. If we say “God is in my life” or words to that effect – shouldn’t our lives be evidence? Aren’t they?

red line embellished

Images: “La Pensadora,” photo by ÁWá, cropped, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; “Botero Fruit bowl,” Paul from Hacketts Cove, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

11 responses to “Evidence?”

  1. Everybody wants a Bablefish and nobody accepts it when they’re shown one. I think your argument (for lack of a better word) is solid. If you see a person whose life is transformed or markedly distinct, obviously something caused the transformation or distinction. When you see many such and they all make the same claim about what changed them, that evidence, while anecdotal by nature becomes empirical in fact and both qualitative and quantifiable. Well done.

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      • The Babelfish is from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s a fish that feeds on brainwaves and excretes understandable thought patterns. You put one in your ear and you can instantly understand anything anyone says in any language. “The fact that something so mind-bogglingly useful could evolve strictly by chance was seen by some philosophers as the final proof for the non-existence of God. The argument went something like this: “I refuse to prove I exist,” says God, “because proof denies faith and without faith I am nothin.” “Ah, but the Bablefish is a dead giveaway! It proves you exist, therefore you don’t,” says man. “Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that,” says God, and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. Most theologians regard this argument as a load of dingos’ kidneys.”

        So…that’s a Bablefish.

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      • LOL! I read that book, but had forgotten this. And weirdly – or as providence would have it – I was just talking to someone about the whole problem of whether God actually prefers people to get to know God by faith, rather than by knowledge … and whether we should like that idea … LOL!

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  2. Unfortunately, a changed life is only evidence of a changed life. Our Gospel isn’t our “changed life” but His Crucifiction and Resurrection. We don’t testify of ourselves and the “effects” in our lives, but as Paul said “Christ crucified” and risen.

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    • Good point.

      This seems like a real question to me, honestly.

      When people “give testimonies” in church or a revival meeting, that usually does involve some kind of pointing to real-world consequences. But also to the source of those. I think the claim is usually “I could never have done this myself, on my own …” That seems important.

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      • Alot of times we push “personal testimony” as a way of preempting disagreement. “Well, who could argue with my personal experience”. It’s a way of “begging out” of the “shame” and ridicule for what Paul called the “foolishness” of preaching the gospel. I get it, no one likes feeling or being seen as foolish for what we Believe. But again, our personal testimonies and experiences of “changed lives” are not the Gospel. And “I could never have done it on my own” statements aren’t either. The World just sees that as an “argument from ignorance” or “god of the gaps” fallacy… “well, how else could it have happened?”. Aside from selling yourself and our own human ability and resilience, it’s not the Gospel. It may be “easier” and less open to criticism than “The foolishness of Preaching”, but it’s a cop out.

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    • I would argue that a changed life, a life being lived in the Way of Christ, is in and of itself a testimony. I think this might be what St. Francis had in mind when he said “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary use words.” 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you.” One would hope that others see that hope before we start bending their ears about it. And, while I don’t want to argue with St. Paul, it has been my experience that talking about the teachings of Jesus are a more productive introduction to the faith than leaping straight to the cross and resurrection which are the ultimate lesson and are subject to a variety of interpretations.

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      • Testimony… but not the Gospel. Paul said… and his letter is scripture not st Francis… “Preach the word”. Jesus said… and He is the Lord, not st francis… “preach the gospel” and “teach them all things I have commanded you.”. Testimonies are not preaching the gospel.

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      • Yes, but what was the Gospel that Jesus preached? In all 3 of the Synoptics it says that Jesus proclaimed the Good News (Gospel) that “the reign of God has come near.” There are different ways to translate the Greek, my favorite being “the reign of God is within reach.” When Jesus sent the disciples out on their mission he told them to heal the sick, cast out demons and announce that the reign/kingdom of God is at hand.” I suspect that you and I subscribe to very different ideas about atonement and read St. Paul quite differently. So… may the peace of Christ which passes all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

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