There was a podcast that I used to listen to called The Atheist Experience. One of the hosts, Matt Dillahunty, was once a Christian and was planning to go into seminary until he eventually lost his faith because he felt it was not reasonable to be believe any more.
On one particular show, I remember him talking about the evidence that it would take to believe. He was asked if he would believe if his grandmother, who was deceased, came back from the grave and told him that there was a God. His response was that, even if his grandmother came back from the dead and told him that God was real, he would not believe it.
This is one of the common things I hear being asked of atheists is that same question…”What would it take for you to believe?” I don’t think I’ve yet heard an answer that was substantially different from Mr. Dillahunty’s. The typical response to any type of potential miracle is to assume that it wasn’t one and that there is a scientific (i.e. “materialistic”) explanation…even if we don’t happen to know what it is yet.
The reason I had to take note of Matt’s claim is because it reminded me of a passage of scripture that pretty much exactly describes his position:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “
Well, I guess Jesus had them pegged. As much as they continue to shout questions of “What evidence is there of God?” any answers they get end up being dismissed out of hand as just being yet-to-be-explained materialistic events. If they know of a terminally ill person who is healed after being prayed for, they dismiss it as a mistake on the part of the doctor or some sort of oversight. When people get a refund check in the mail for the exact amount of money they needed to pay their bills, it’s just an amazing coincidence.
With that, one may wonder why I still tend to be an “evidentialist.” I suppose it’s because, rather than trying to convert the inconvertible, I mainly want to make sure that any believers who are stumbling because they think the hard questions can’t be answered know that those questions do have answers.
Not that I have them, but that they’re at least out there, somewhere. Some may be persuasive and some may not. But at least if the answers are sought out, that’s all I ask. Too many believers fall away because they get asked a hard question that they don’t know the answer to and they mistakenly assume that there are no answers.
Do you have questions? Doubts? Do you wonder if your faith is reasonable? What things are you unsure about? What doubts do you have.
Grace, love and peace.
Daniel is an Elite Trainer at (ISSA) International Sports Sciences Association. He has been working in IT since 1995 primarily in Windows environments with TCP/IP networking through 2012, shifted to Red Hat Enterprise Linux in 2012 and AWS in 2017.