Last Friday, I paid a visit to the Manawatu Christian Apologetics society, commenting on “What would it take for a Darwinist to change his mind.” To my delight, the “admin” approved my comments, and responded:
By admin on Sep 14, 2007 | ReplyDear Professor. You personally believe many things without verifiable evidence. In Jesus’ day, people saw miracles firsthand but later rejected them.
Evidence is somewhat of an excuse because however much evidence you are given, you will always demand more because of your underlying presuppositions and bias against the supernatural. Enjoy the debate.
As for evolutionists changing their minds — so why do you believe them if their evidence keeps changing? Do you have sufficient evidence that it is true or are you taking it on faith? If so, I would point out that perhaps a double standard is at work
Notice how the apologist responds to my comment. I pointed out that all it takes to change a “Darwinist’s” mind is verifiable evidence. The apologist tries to imply that evidence is not really necessary. In other words, he’s changing the subject. He hasn’t got any evidence, so he’d rather talk about people (including evolutionists) basing their beliefs on faith alone.
He also wants to assume that we can’t rely on the evidence, because our personal biases will always resist the evidence, “because however much evidence you are given, you will always demand more because of your underlying presuppositions and bias…” (Perhaps he’s thinking of Michael Behe’s approach to evidence?) Mr. Admin’s assumption, however, is not true: I (like so many others) did ask for evidence that was contrary to my beliefs, and when I saw the evidence, I changed my mind. Of course, I was a conservative Christian creationist at the time.
But the best part of Mr. Admin’s response is the question, “Why do you believe [evolutionists] if their evidence keeps changing?” Notice the subtle twisting of the word there. It’s not the evidence that changes, it’s science’s understanding of biology that changes. But Mr. Admin knows the evidence is against him, and therefore he regards it with suspicion, as something that tells a different story every time.
Fortunately, the evidence (as in the real-world evidence) does not contradict itself, or randomly change its story every time we look at it. We may find it difficult to understand at times, and our description of it may become more precise as we understand it better. We may even debate the different possible interpretations that could be adopted (pending further information). But overall, the evidence tells a story that is consistent with itself and with the rest of the evidence. And that’s one of the hallmarks, if not the defining mark, of truth itself.
So yes, I do have an evidence-based faith, which is a faith based on the internal and external self-consistency of the evidence. That’s as opposed to gullible faith, which is a faith you hold onto despite a lack of evidence, or even despite contrary evidence, just because men say you should believe it. There’s no double standard involved in preferring both evidence and evidence-based faith over the unsubstantiated and inconsistent stories of men. The former upholds the principle that truth is consistent with itself; and the latter contradicts it. The ultimate and infallible single standard is that truth is consistent with itself.