What Constitutes Evidence?
What is your own personal requirement for evidence?
If you think about this for a moment you will realize that you accept things as fact everyday without a great deal of evidence. Most of us are ready to make a decision when we receive a reasonable cause to believe that something is true.
Take for example:
You open you computer and log into Amazon.com. You begin a search for a specific item that you are interested in. You read the reviews, look at the description, examine the pictures and read a few of the questions that people asked about the product. Upon finding that these factors are positive, you click on the order button and make a commitment.
How much of what you used to make this decision came from provable evidence? You took the witness of others who have knowledge of the product. You trusted that the product you found was in the custody of a source that would lead you to believe that it was authentic. You trusted in Amazon to carry products that are genuine. You exercised a degree of faith that what you read was true. Then you made your commitment.
If most people who deny God for insufficient evidence were to use the same criteria when they make a commitment to order a product, they would never buy anything online.
- What constitutes evidence?
- What kind of evidence is necessary to prove an assertion?
- Who bears the burden of providing evidence when an objection is raised?
Most people who dispute the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, or that Jesus Christ is a real person from history, demand a quality and quantity of evidence that is not required under any other circumstances in human life.
In essence, the evidence that is required to prove the existence of God, the Bible is true, and Jesus is who He is asserted, are easily met by what is readily accessible today.
The problem with providing evidence for people who raise objections regarding these matters is that they have already determined their position beforehand and are most often not open to any further debate.
In forty-two years of debating with atheists and agnostics, at least in the present tense of those arguments, not once have any of these conceded that their thinking might be wrong.
This is not to say that later their minds were not changed. I have to believe that although a person will initially resist our efforts to share valid information with them regarding God, these encounters will always cause them to think again whether their conclusions are valid given the evidence we present to them.
There is a sobering fact of human nature that once a person has determined that they will not believe that God is real, it is nearly impossible to convince them otherwise.
There are also a great number of persons who are still actively seeking intelligent answers and rational evidence for God and have not made up their minds. This reality may exist even though some of these persons appear to have finalized their decision; the facts are, they have not. People will often tell us a finality that resides within their heart that is not really true.
It is for this reason that I always assume that intelligent information and arguments for God are a good idea and will bear fruit over the course of time.
The problem for many is that they really do not have sufficient information themselves to defend God’s reality, the authenticity of the Bible, or that Jesus actually said and did the things that the New Testament describes.
It is my hope that this resource will serve in some small way to provide information that will be helpful in this regard.
Thinking About Evidence:
In evaluating evidence, certain rules must be followed in determining whether or not the evidence that has been presented has met the burden of proving that evidence.
When it comes to facts that concern the evidence for Jesus Christ, often a different set of rules are established that demand empirical evidence that would not be required under any other circumstances. This requirement is inconsistent with the rule of law, and unreasonable from any intellectual or logical requirement.
Preeminent legal scholar and co-founder of the Harvard School of Law, Dr. Simon Greenleaf said this regarding the quality of evidence that is required to prove a matter:
“In the ordinary affairs of life we do not require nor expect empirical evidence, because it is inconsistent with the nature of matters of fact, and to insist on its production would be unreasonable and absurd. And it makes no difference, whether the facts to be proved relate to this life or to the next, the nature of the evidence required being in both cases the same. The error of the skeptic consists in pretending or supposing that there is a difference in the nature of the things to be proved; and in demanding empirical evidence concerning things which are not susceptible of any other than moral evidence alone, and of which the utmost that can be said is, that there is no reasonable doubt about their truth.”
In determining whether or not there is sufficient evidence for the existence of Jesus as a real person from history, His death and resurrection, the kind of evidence that should be required are matters of fact. The type of empirical evidence which can be tested and seen, that many atheists demand, is never required in a court of law—even in cases where the life of a person is held in the balance. It is unreasonable to demand proof by a different set of rules than are required in every other instance of human life—where evidence is required.
Dr. Greenleaf Continues:
“In proceeding to weigh the evidence of any proposition of fact, the previous question to be determined is, when may it be said to be proved? The answer to this question is furnished by another rule of municipal law, which may be thus stated: A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test to which they can be subjected is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a man of common prudence and discretion, and so to convince him, that he could venture to act upon that conviction in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest.”
The evidence required to prove whether there is historical evidence that proves the existence of Jesus of Nazareth as a real person of history is based upon the time-tested requirements of all matters that are proven by evidence:
“In trials of fact, by oral testimony, the proper inquiry is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but whether there is sufficient probability that it is true.” —Simon Greenleaf
The amount and type of evidence required to prove anything is defined by whether it is reasonable enough to create doubt, that it is not true.
On this basis alone, the evidence for Jesus presence in Jerusalem during the time set forth by the New Testament, is overwhelming.
- The New Testament Passes Every Literary Test of History
- Empirical Integrity of the New Testament
- The Ease Of Proving God Exists From Empirical Evidence
- The Overwhelming Empirical Evidence for Jesus Death and Resurrection
- Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Israel And The Jews: Historical Proof For God
- The Secular Record of History, Proves That Jesus Rose From The Dead
- Is the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Supported by Reliable Evidence?
- The Bible As The Basis For All Human Laws
- The Bible Has Told The Truth Regarding The Nature Of Man
- How the Hebrew Prophets Demonstrate the Fulfillment of Bible Prophecy
If Jesus Is Not God:
- Why did the Jews pick up stones to kill Jesus? For blasphemy; Jesus claimed to be God. “I and my Father are One.”
- Why did Jesus claim the right that only God has; to forgive sins?
- Why did Thomas call Jesus “My Lord and my God,” if Jesus is not God?
- Why did John write that Jesus existed as God before anything else, in the introduction to his Gospel?
- Why did Paul say in Colossians 1, that “all things were created by Jesus and are held together by His power,” if Jesus is not God? Genesis 1:1 says that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If Colossians 1 says that Jesus created all that exists and Genesis says that God created all that exists, Jesus must be God.
- If Jesus is not God, how did He raise Lazarus to life after his body had been decomposing in the tomb four days?
- If Jesus is not God, how did He know that Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed within one 40 year generation, and “not one stone would be left upon another,” in the Temple.
- If Jesus is not God, why did He accept Peter’s statement that He is the “Christ, the Son of The Living God?”
If Jesus Is Just A Good Man, But Not God:
- How could a truly good man, lie, and claim that he is God?
- Good men do not claim to be God, able to forgive sins, if they are not.
- Either Jesus was telling the truth, that He is God, or He is a liar.
- If Jesus is a liar, how was He able to do these things, and why did so many men in the New Testament write that He did them?
- We’re all the writers of the New Testament lying?
- If the writers of the New Testament lied about Jesus, then how do we explain that the entire Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would do the same things that the men of the New Testament wrote about Jesus?
- Are all the writers of the Old Testament also lying?
This must be the biggest and most complex conspiracy to deceive the world that has ever existed. Over two billion people today believe the testimony about Jesus that is found in the Bible is true.
Or, Jesus is telling the truth: He is God and has the power to forgive our sins and give eternal life to any person who trust in Him.
1 Ibid. Locations 271-278 Kindle Edition The word “demonstrative”, translated: “Empirical.”
2 Ibid. Locations 278-284 Kindle Edition.
3 Simon Greenleaf. The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence (Kindle Locations 270-271). Kindle Edition.