Faith, Trust and Magic Dust: Part 2
Does the Bible place much importance on evidence?
Some people think that belief in God is about as reasonable as belief in fairies or magic dust. They say that there is no real evidence in the Bible and that people who believe it are simply fooling themselves!
Is this the case? Does the Bible suggest we should just simply "believe" without any evidence at all?
The Biblical view on evidence
Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not opposed to evidence. In fact, rather than having Christians believe blindly or without evidence, the Bible commands us to give reasons for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3).
As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul laid it all out on the table when he said that our faith was “useless” and “futile” if Christ had not been raised from the dead:
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith ... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile ..." (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, 17)
Paul understood the need for Christians to have evidence and reasons for believing what they do.
The importance of evidence for the early Christians
Throughout the book of Acts we see Paul traveling around various countries, presenting evidence for the things Christianity claims as true. Did he tell people to simply believe without any evidence? No!
Rather, Paul’s custom was to “reason”, “explain” and “prove” to the Jews why Jesus had to suffer and rise from the dead (Acts 17:2-4). To the people of Athens, Paul explained why the Christian worldview gives the best explanation for understanding the world (Acts 17:16-34).
Even Jesus focused on evidence
Jesus understood the importance of evidence, too. Here's a few examples:
- He encouraged the Jewish leaders to believe because of his miracles (John 10:37-38).
- After his death, Jesus appeared to his followers in order to validate that God had raised him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
- Thomas, one of Jesus’ followers, was skeptical about his resurrection. He refused to believe that Jesus rose from the dead without seeing and touching the evidence. So, Jesus appeared to him and, in response, Thomas believed and worshipped him (John 20:24-29).
- Lastly, Jesus’ follower, John, tells us that he wrote his gospel to show that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God: "Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31).
When it comes down to it, the Bible has a lot to say about both faith and evidence. The Christian view of faith is not contrary to evidence, rather it embraces it.
For more, check out the recent article on evidence for Jesus' resurrection by William Lane Craig & Sean McDowell.