Many types of evidence have been put forward by Christians to answer the questions of critics…the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which has to do with the existence of the universe requiring a Creator…the evidence of the changed lives of Christians, which is very popular among Christians because they are so near to their own changed lives…and the apostolic evidence of the apostles’ testimony to the resurrection of Christ. Let’s examine how one of the apostles might have discussed this evidence with an atheist.
Christian: Hello, how are you?
Atheist: Ok…I’m not sure what to do about Sheila.
Christian: You think she’s cheating?
Christian: How can you know if she is?
Atheist: Some people been talking…
Christian: This kind of reminds me of the Bible…how do you find out what’s true?
Atheist: How so?
Christian: There was a time where three of the apostles were hauled before a Jewish tribunal for telling people about Christ’s resurrection…the rulers were afraid that the apostles were trying to start an insurrection.
Atheist: So what did the apostles do?
Christian: The apostles’ defense was that they couldn’t stop speaking about what they had seen and heard.
Atheist: That seems like a weak defense.
Christian: Well, the apostles were saying that they had to keep the Law by giving their testimony. The tribunal saw that as a strong, religious defense.
Atheist: Oh. But how do we know that the apostles weren’t lying or making stuff up or confused?
Christian: The Jews had strict rules about testimony. The witnesses had to be sequestered from one another to prevent collusion during the trial. The witnesses were sequestered when they weren’t testifying in court. The witnesses’ testimony had to agree with the testimony of at least one other witness about empirical facts.
Atheist: Wait, wait, wait. Christians aren’t scientists. They don’t care about empirical facts.
Christian: Actually, Robert Boyle brought the biblical rules of evidence to bear on science…and he was one of the founders of the Royal Academy, the earliest major scientific organization…Boyle required that all witnesses of scientific demonstrations performed at the academy sign the witness log. Christianity had a major impact on science from its very founding.
Atheist: How do you know all this? How come I haven’t heard of this before?
Christian: There are a number of books written about Boyle and his scientific philosophy. Books like one by Rosemary Sargent. Perhaps they are a bit too religious to be comfortably read in schools. So people don’t know.
Atheist: Well, Robert Boyle was a scientist, so, of course, he would care about empirical facts.
Christian: What are empirical facts?
Atheist: Facts derived from our senses.
Christian: You mean stuff we have seen and heard?
Atheist: I see what you’re driving at, but I simply can’t accept it.