Why Do Christians Ignore Evidence?

I would consider this your official disclaimer. What follows may seem harsh, but in light of observations I’ve made I feel some toes need to be stepped on. I’m not deliberately seeking to be inflammatory or offensive, but I see a need for a warning message that must be delivered.

If you’re a good driver, you’re constantly scanning your surroundings as you drive. You watch for cars backing out of driveways, drivers who may be about to do something foolish on the road, or other dangers which may be lurking around the corner. You’re alert to the possibility of danger, and maintaining a good level of awareness of your surroundings. This will allow you to react properly when the situation calls for action.

But now picture the proverbial ostrich with it’s head buried in the sand. Is this a good level of awareness? No doubt, common sense tells us that this animal is not protected in any way by burying its head in the sand. It is placed in a position of twice as much danger because all awareness has gone out the front door. In like manner, think of the road yet again. If you cease paying attention to your surroundings while driving, does this protect you from getting into a car wreck?

Obviously not, but the real question is “how do these analogies relate to Christians ignoring evidence?” A branch of Theology exists within Christianity known as “Apologetics”, which is all about a defense of the faith and showing the reasonableness of Christian beliefs. I speak from experience when I say that a thorough study of this branch would bring an overwhelming mountain of evidence in support of Christian faith to the table. There is just one problem. If Christians ignore it, it might as well not exist.

To Ignore this branch of theology is to deliberately create a situation in which the evidences that it produces are unknown. If this is the case, the results of a lack of evidence automatically follow. What are those results? While surfing through the WordPress reader at one point, I stumbled across a blog post by an individual stating that he had come to the “heart wrenching” conclusion that there was no evidence in support of Christianity. I imagine this “discovery” lead the individual into atheism, and ultimately apostasy. But the real issue comes down to a question —- how much of this is their personal choice and how much of it is the fault of the Church?

If Christians stuff their heads in the sand, ignoring evidence in support of Christian beliefs, than they’ll find themselves unprepared to help those struggling with doubt. Perhaps it seems a small matter, but such a failure may have its cost in the loss of souls. Think of whoever wrote that blog post. Do you honestly think that they remained a Christian? The odds are more in favor of them taking a bite out what a friend of mine calls “secular humanism.” But how could you expect anything less of them? If they were unable to find evidence that supports Christian beliefs, and the Church failed to provide it through lack of study, how could they be expected to make any other choice?

Yes, they would’ve made their choice. But the choice they made was certainly influenced by a seeming lack of evidence, which could’ve been prevented if people would take their heads out of the sand. If there had been just one person with enough knowledge of Apologetics, this individual’s Apostasy could’ve been prevented and they might’ve been convinced of the reasonableness of Christian belief. Instead things turned out the way they did.

In a post from “Bethinking” titled “Six Enemies Of Apologetic Engagement”, the top three listed are Ignorance, Indifference, and Irrationalism. It’s hard to imagine that somebody who just doesn’t know that the information exists could be held accountable. But I can say with a certainty that indifference is a choice — one that often implies some one doesn’t care. Can you see how wrong that actually is? Imagine for a moment that some one somewhere in the Church apostatizes, totally losing faith in God’s existence to become an atheist, and that it could’ve been prevented if some one was familiar enough with Apologetics. But it was not prevented, because the entire church corporately did not care enough to look, even when they had the opportunity. That’s actually rather infuriating if you think about it.

As I’ve undertaken a study of Apologetics, I’ve come across the shocking realization that many websites have to write a defense of Apologetics itself. This is because well-meaning but confused Christians within the Church start to oppose it. The reasons cited vary from what is essentially irrationalism to the notion that it must be ineffective, since you cannot win people by argument. Although answers for such ridiculous assertions exist, I cannot help but express a sigh of frustration because this fits the picture of the ostrich with its head stuffed in the sand.

While somebody assumed that the whole point of Apologetics was to win people to the truth who ultimately do not want to listen, another may become discouraged and lose faith because of a single encounter with an atheist. Its easy to dismiss this as a weak faith on the part of the person. But if we step out of the bubble of irrationalism for five seconds, we might discover that in all reality no thinking person can hold on to beliefs when confronted with what seems like evidence to the contrary. Thinking rational people do not do this. It is only those who willfully bury their heads in the sand against all evidence who exhibit this kind of behavior. Is faith really a requirement for the Christian to leave his or her brain at the door and enter into a total state of foolishness and irrationality or is it reasonable?

1 Peter 3:15 commands us to give a reason to those who ask us of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear. I think reality is more on the side of the reasonable faith, rather than the popular irrationalism. Yet some Christians have buried their heads in the sand, and their opposition to Apologetics is a demonstration of this fact. Then they act surprised when their children walk away from Christ at a later age. If you think that the Biblical definition of faith excludes any empirical evidence in support of Christianity or that we shouldn’t bother to look at that evidence because we’re not going to convince anyone than you are sticking your head in the sand.

You’ll then find, much to your horror, that you’re about to crash into the proverbial car because you weren’t paying attention. How could this be so? Your neglect to research such an important subject, even your resistance toward others choosing to do so, will drive others from the truth. If you don’t already, you should understand that this could mean the difference between some one continuing to follow Christ and a decision to walk away from him forever on the basis of unbelief.

My Experience With Intelligent Design & An Overview Of The Movement

I was first exposed to the concept of Intelligent Design [ID], as well as Creationism, during my Junior year of High School. It was at this point that I was taking Biology class, which was beginning to cover the Theory of Evolution. We as a class were shown a video, that I thought might be a propaganda hit piece, which was geared to paint Intelligent Design as “repackaged creationism.” The overall aim in the video was to push the agenda that Intelligent Design doesn’t belong in our schools, and therefore should not be taught in the Science classroom. I recall a statement made by my High School Biology teacher suggesting that Creationism specifically had come about during the 1970’s, and had been refuted. Unless my memory is failing me, I seem to remember my Biology teacher making the connection between Creationism and Intelligent Design.

In spite of the fact that the commentary was entirely negative, I still found the concept of Intelligent Design compelling, and wasn’t entirely swayed by the conclusions of the video. I wanted to know more, and did in fact engage in some limited research. I agreed with the conclusion that life was far too complex to have arisen by what I would later term “naturalistic processes”, and was immediately skeptical of Neo-Darwinian Evolution from the start. Yet in some ways I didn’t fully grasp how to dig into the matter thoroughly, and therefore I did not hear about the concept of “Irreducible Complexity” until after my conversion to Christianity.

During those days of my Junior year, I adopted a position of “Agnosticism.” My brief classification of myself under those beliefs was based largely due to an imperfect understanding of what an Agnostic actually is, derived from a series of conversations between a few perhaps misinformed teenagers during lunch and in-between classes. I was told by a friend that an Agnostic is some one who believes there might be a higher power, but that you are not able to really identify who or what that higher power is. This might be a fairly close definition, but I think still somewhat off. Without really understanding all of the issues involved, I adopted the title merely because I liked the way it sounded in view of the direction the Intelligent Design concept was causing me to swing.

I was slightly discouraged from the concept however when I ran into criticism of ID, particularly using a repackaged variant of the “problem of evil” argument. Nevertheless an awareness of the idea was in the back of my mind, and it opened the door for later research. Fast forward to five years or so after my conversion. A concern about encounters with Atheists has recently motivated me to dig into Apologetics. Somewhere in the midst of all my reading, I stumbled across Intelligent Design again.

I learned that my High School Biology teacher either lied to us or was deceived herself. It was clear that Creationists often criticize Intelligent Design because it doesn’t necessarily land you on the God of the Bible. By contrast, Creationism is geared as a defense of the Bible whereas Intelligent Design takes no stance on the issue. Key Creationist beliefs, such as a 6,000 year old Earth, belief in a Global-Flood, or a literal 24-hour creation week are totally left out of the discussion. In fact, not all of the proponents of Intelligent Design are Christians. Some of them are Agnostics! Some “FAQ” sections of their websites have even stated that you don’t necessarily have to make the deduction that simply because something is intelligently designed, therefore it was supernaturally created.

The Intelligent Design Movement or “IDM” is obviously steering clear from religious questions, focusing instead on scientific investigation. As I devoured scores of Creationist and Intelligent Design Articles, the differences between the two became clear to my mind and I quickly discerned that there was something wrong with what I had been taught in High School. In fact, before I had thought of the possibility that our teacher was deceived herself the thought that they were lying to us crossed my mind. These obvious differences between the two movements were conveniently left out, and we as High School students were indoctrinated to believe that one is a repackaged version of the other. We were spoon-fed what is tantamount to a conspiracy theory that Intelligent Design is a backdoor to get Creationism into Science classrooms, yet my research into the history of the movement showed that it developed independently of Creation Science and well before some of the court rulings banning it from being taught.

I thought that the video shown might be a propaganda hit piece, but I never thought that I would find confirmation! I feel violated, and I even wonder what else in that class was nothing more then an attempt at indoctrination! A friend of mine from Church remarked that the education system is designed to indoctrinate you into naturalism. While I don’t claim to be able to be able to prove such a statement, it certainly makes sense in the light of my own personal experience and the fact that almost all of my friends swung towards Atheism or similar beliefs. I can hardly describe how horrified I actually am!

Yet it’s obvious that their attempts at indoctrination had the exact opposite of the desired effect, because at the time it only triggered me to look into it. Today I know why such a hit piece would be produced. Intelligent Design is powerful and very compelling, and it has convinced me to drop doubts about God’s existence that I at times have struggled with. While it doesn’t necessarily prove the Bible to be true, it certainly falsifies Atheism. In spite of statements by the IDM that you don’t necessarily have to bring in the supernatural, it is something that I personally found very encouraging.

It would seem that the mere fact that I found it encouraging is something which would be used by Intelligent Design’s opponents to make the ridiculous assertion that it is religion and not science. But such an objection would merely be spewed forth on philosophical grounds and not as an evaluation of the actual empirical evidence. In my research thus far, I’ve learned that the “repackaged creationism” label and the “not science” claim are common Darwinian rhetorical strategies and tactics, aimed at maintaining control over the public.

The question then remains, if it doesn’t bring in the supernatural why is it encouraging? How useful is Intelligent Design for the Christian? The work of the ID Movement actually ends up lending Scientific support for one of the classical Apologetics arguments for God’s existence, that being the “Teleological argument” [argument from design.] Thus, it’s research and findings are certainly useful out to a certain point. The fact that it doesn’t bring in the supernatural necessarily or land a person on the God of the Bible definitively means that from here you have more work to do so far as providing evidences in support of Christianity’s truthfulness.

In addition, the IDM has no problem with vast amounts of time for the earth’s age. It’s lack of support for a literal six-day creation week and a global flood means that if you rely on the IDM alone to build your case in support of your beliefs you could end up having more than a few weak spots. This goes back to a previous analogy I gave when addressing Apologetics websites regarding a toolbox. Ultimately this is just one more tool, like a wrench or hammer, to put in your Apologetics toolkit. But it isn’t the sole argument, and it should be remembered that ID Scientists never intended the concept of Intelligent Design to be used as an Apologetic for Christianity.

It should also be noted that thus far Intelligent Design seems to posses the capability of withstanding criticism. In researching some of the arguments raised against it such as the concept of evil design, the panda’s thumb [“sub-optimal” design objection], “who designed the designer” argument, and pre-adaptation/Type-III secretory system arguments I’ve not found them particularly compelling. For instance, “evil design” is a purely theological objection. Somebody merely makes citation of something like viruses or something in nature which appears designed to kill and all of the sudden this simply must refute design.

I find it strange that critics feel as though they must combat Intelligent Design, a strictly empirical approach, with repackaged versions of classical Atheist arguments. Evil design and “who designed the designer” are just dressed-up versions of the “problem of evil” argument and the old schoolyard charge of “who made God”, both of which have been demolished by Christian Apologetics. If such arguments couldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of the Apologetics community, what makes the critics of ID think such strictly theological charges would stand up in this case?

Apparently evil design is only an argument against the goodness of the designer, and therefore doesn’t stand as a convincing case that the life form is not designed. It should also be noted that unless one understands the complete picture of the purpose behind the design, how can one within reason term something “evil”? Spiders for instance are fairly complex creatures, but they also trap and kill insects and are often poisonous. This might seem like evil design on the surface, yet without it perhaps the insect population would explode out of control and become a pretty serious problem. Thus you have something engineered as a population control mechanism, which in this case is not inherently evil. It would more testify to wise planning on the part of the designer rather than wickedness.

Not understanding the full reason of why something was designed can certainly lend to a case of the appearance of evil, but a more complete understanding might perhaps alleviate some of the issues in question. Although not applicable in all cases of apparently evil design, such an argument would theoretically account for some of the problem without bringing theological responses to the table. But even so, there are seemingly evil designs produced by human beings, weapons of warfare [and even mass destruction] being one example. Although designed to kill, they were still designed. Hence “evil” doesn’t really refute the fact that something is the product of design.

It seems more like somebody attempted to throw this charge out in the vain hope that it would present problems for Christians potentially encouraged by Intelligent Design, but in actual fact Christianity is fully-capable of accounting for such things through the fall of man and sin’s impact on the overall creation. Thus a Christian wouldn’t be too discouraged by rehashed Atheist attacks.

Since I linked back to responses to some of the other arguments, I won’t dwell at length on some of the other issues in question. As I personally haven’t found the criticisms compelling, Intelligent Design is therefore something which might be a useful tool in your kit. But it should always be used alongside other arguments and with plenty of research for support. As an article from bethinking notes, you shouldn’t engage in discussions on these issues with those outside the faith armed only with a surface understanding of the issues in question.

Earlier in this article, I noted that my Biology teacher suggested that Creationism came about in the 1970’s and has been refuted. I feel compelled to write about my exploration of creationist articles as well, and so some of the science and reasoning will be addressed in a forthcoming article. But suffice it say I’m not buying into the claims of my Biology teacher in this area either. Making vague references to something being refuted without giving citations or real evidence for support isn’t as convincing of a case as it sounds on the surface.

A Review Of Apologetics Websites

I’ve never been one to flee from deep research. Regarding Conditional Immortality, I once built a document containing up to 63-64 pages worth of content in E-sword notes. I have a tendency to thoroughly investigate material when a subject captures my attention, and I’ve always found joy in reading. Lately, in my research I’ve begun turning my attention to Apologetics based materials, especially websites with apparently endless amounts of articles, videos, podcasts, and recordings. Perhaps there is more content related to this subject than I could reasonably study in a lifetime’s worth of investigation.

Therefore my probe into the subject has yielded a wealth of data. Much of it will impact future posts on this blog, but for the time being I felt I might share with you some of the websites from which I have been reading. However, I do not do so without leaving you with a disclaimer. I do not endorse everything that these websites teach. As an example, surrounding the creation vs evolution debate you will find that some of these websites promote old earth creation/theistic evolution-based positions. I personally do not agree with this. Some of them also attempt to support the concept of eternal conscious torment through logic. While the arguments are certainly interesting, I do not agree with or endorse these positions either. In fact, some of this material will be countered on my blog at a future time.

But in all reality, as I recently wrote, you should be thinking these issues through for yourself. Apply discernment and critical thinking skills to any information which comes in, and allow no man, no matter how good his arguments appear, to be brains for you. If something does not harmonize with Scripture, reject it. Some may ask, “why link back to the websites at all, if you know they teach error or messages you don’t agree with?” Those with whom I am personally acquainted may especially feel compelled to ask such questions. The facts are however that these websites are featured because they contain information which is useful for defending Christianity as a whole. They cover a wide variety of topics related to these issues, and thus their overall value should not be denied so far as a useful tool in a defense of the faith.

There are multiple tools for different jobs. Some good examples are a wrench, screwdriver, hammer, drill, and so on. You wouldn’t use a wrench or a screwdriver to nail boards together. These websites are similar. Some of them have information and arguments that others do not. Others seem to be geared towards specific topics [such as the Creation vs Evolution debate]. If something is focused on a particular topic, you would not want to search it for answers refuting the way skeptics use the so-called “lost-books”, neither would you find much in the way of information actually training you to do Apologetics yourself. Think of the websites as tools for your “Apologetics toolkit” to be applied to the needs of differing situations and questions.

That said, the first website on the list is “Answers In Genesis” [AiG for short.] AiG is a fantastic website. I’ve made it my “go-to” website for issues surrounding creation vs evolution, although I’m aware of several others which cover this topic that I’ve yet to thoroughly explore. There are dozens of articles on their website covering this topic, and also some which are a decent introduction to Apologetics as a whole. They even wrote a superb article about giants in the Bible, which is a question few Apologetics websites will touch. In fact, AiG is the only one that I’ve seen actually address this issue. Although much of the information is technical, they also have a scholarly research journal which can be useful for keeping yourself up to date on some of those issues.

The next one on the list is “Apologetics Press” [AP for short.] Like AiG, AP has a wealth of articles on the creation vs Evolution debate. It also has quite a few articles going over “alleged discrepancies” in the Bible and God’s existence among a treasure trove of other articles. In addition, there are several books which the website owners have produced and made available for free download in PDF file format. I’ve yet to read them all the way through for myself, so I won’t recommend them right off the bat, but they may have their uses.

The third website is known as “Reasonable Faith.” Reasonable Faith is run by a man named William Lane Craig, who I would classify as a very good Apologist. At the same time, he swings more towards the theistic evolution side of the question within Christianity. Nevertheless, he offers interesting logical arguments for God’s existence with scholarly papers written explaining and defending them for perusal on his website. You will also find articles defending the existence/historicity of Jesus and his resurrection, which is a powerful argument in favor of Christianity. There are many other podcasts, videos, recorded lectures, and so on available on his website as well. Although I’ve yet to view any of them, as watching media hasn’t been something that I’ve typically classed as fitting my learning style. In spite of his bent towards Theistic Evolution, I’ve found high-quality materials covering other topics on his website.

There is also “Cold Case Christianity” run by a man named J. Werner Wallace. He is a former Atheist and “cold case detective” who applied his investigative skills to Christianity and the Bible to determine if there was enough evidence to reasonably hold religious beliefs. I suspect this was an attempt to discredit the Bible, which ultimately wound up with him becoming a Christian Apologist. I’ve found a wealth of information on this website dealing with the question of Biblical manuscripts, the historicity of the Bible, and other topics. Many articles can be downloaded in PDF format, which makes it easy to save the information for later use.

Logically Fallacious” is another website I’ve found uses for. You will find that this website is not particularly geared towards defending Christianity per-se, but it has it’s uses in this direction. This is because as the name suggests, it covers the subject of Logical Fallacies. Logical fallacies, or mistakes in reasoning, are often made by those who oppose Christianity. They thus have their uses in responding to criticisms leveled at the Bible or Christian belief by Atheists or other skeptics. Logically Fallacious is actually an in-depth database of logical fallacies. So, it is fantastic website for educating yourself in this direction or for use as an online encyclopedia of logical fallacies.

Cross Examined” is another website which I’ve found to be invaluable. I’ve been especially blessed by the “blog” section of the website, which includes many well-written articles on a variety of topics including the “Problem of Evil”, God’s existence, Manuscript/Lost Books-related issues, Faith vs Science issues, and many other helpful topics. Some other websites I’ve found and used came from the “Resources” section of this website, which has a “links” page opening the door for you to explore the content of other Apologetics based websites. Cross examined also has a smartphone app, which is very powerful for times when you need fast answers and good for when you have some time to kill.

Finally, of the four websites where I started my research [one being AiG], I’ve decided to feature the last two to close things out. One is known as “Bethinking.” Bethinking is excellent because it allows you to compare other religions with Christianity, engage with the debate on varying issues, and explore a wide variety of topics. It includes articles, audio recordings, and videos thus hitting various preferences. Those who don’t like reading could find the website equally as helpful as those who do in view of these facts. The last is RZIM, which is the website of Ravi Zacharias’ ministry. While there are articles on this website, I’ve found the better content in audio or video format, which has often caused me to spend more time with other websites as I prefer to read rather than watch or listen. There however is also a forums set up where people ask the RZIM team Apologetics related questions. This is very helpful if you’re seeking answers to specific issues, or want direct feedback about a question.

These websites are just a small taste of what I’ve been reading. When you actually take the time to sit down and look, the sheer amount of blogs and websites that are out there covering Apologetics related materials is almost overwhelming. I have found myself “swimming” in information, unfortunately perhaps more than I actually have the time to read through. I hope that you might be as blessed by these websites as I have been, and that you can see the truthfulness of Christian belief through them.