Wednesday, August 04, 2010

What's evidence?

Unbelievers insist on telling us that “there is no evidence for the Exodus!”

This, however, raises a number of questions. For instance, unbelievers constantly tout refereed journals. Now suppose an article in a refereed journal mentions a scientific experiment or scientific discovery. Is that evidence for the discovery or experiment in question?

Well, an article about a scientific discovery is not, itself, a scientific discovery. Likewise, an article about a scientific experiment is not, itself, a scientific experiment. Suppose we discover a new bat species in Borneo. A scientific article on a newly-discovered bat is not itself a bat.

So what the article really boils down to is reported evidence. Is reported evidence real evidence? Well, unbelievers who quote scientific journals sure act as though reported evidence is evidence. As it’s not as if the average reader can go on his own expedition to Borneo to confirm the reported finding.

If reported evidence is evidence, then that’s a case of indirect evidence rather than direct evidence. Likewise, if a book of the Bible says the Exodus happened, that’s reported evidence.

And there are other types of indirect evidence. Here’s one line for evidence for the Exodus:

i) Messianic prophecy is evidence for Jesus

ii) The teaching of Jesus is evidence for the OT

If Messianic prophecy vouches for Jesus, and Jesus vouches for the OT, then that’s evidence for the Exodus–among other things.

Of course, you might say that relocates the issue. That shifts the question from evidence for the Exodus to evidence for the Gospels.

But there’s nothing wrong with shifting the question. For the question of whether there’s evidence for the Gospels is very different from the question of whether there’s evidence for the Exodus. Yet the way we answer the former question impinges on how we answer the latter question.