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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Atheists, Evidence, and Unreasonable Demands

Yesterday, I tweeted a link to my article "Is There Such a Thing as Rational Faith?" The point of that article was that faith and reason are not contradictory. One reply to that was a tweet by The_Apistevist, who identifies himself as an atheist on Twitter. He asked: "how can belief without evidence be considered rational?" Now, I had never claimed Christianity had no evidence, nor did I argue that one should never seek evidence in matters of faith.  Belief without evidence was his assumption.

Because I've engaged in these kinds of conversations before, I didn't want to retread the evidence for Christianity.  It's well-documented on both the web site as well as this blog. Most of the time, atheists will simply reject the evidence I offer, stating it doesn't count for some arbitrary reason or another. For example, testimony is evidence, but such is usually dismissed out of hand because the content of that testimony is "religious."

So, I decided to take another route. Is it true that no one should believe anything without evidence other than a person's word? Could such a standard work in the real world? Below is the full conversation with The_Apistevist . You can see how his own criteria quickly devolve into an unworkable position.
Of course, at this point, The_Apistevist is caught in an intractable position. I am both demanding evidence AND I'm the one who rules whether or not whatever he offers me counts as evidence. This is exactly the game many Internet atheists play regarding the existence of God. He has no way of satisfying my criteria, so according to his own rules I am justified in stopping the conversation because I cannot believe him when he tells me he is honest.

How would the world worked if everyone took up this position? How could you drive if you couldn't trust other drivers to obey the traffic laws without first demanding evidence? How would commerce work?

I don't believe his claim that he demands evidence for every statement another makes. He simply couldn't function this way. However, he would rather be relegated to an unreasonable position than admit he holds beliefs where he has no evidence other than the word of the person to whom he's speaking. That truly is unreasonable.

Image courtesy and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (CC BY 2.0) license.


  1. This would be really funny if it wasn't so sad. Love how you handled this; it's one thing to understand the principles of Prov. 26:4-5, but it can be hard to picture in practice.
    Kudos for getting to the quick of things in 140 character segments. I've taken to just blocking people on Twitter because it's so frustrating.

  2. Still waiting for actual proof;testable, repeatable, verfiable evidence, not bullsit meraphysics or philosophy

  3. Still waiting for actual proof;testable, repeatable, verfiable evidence, not bullsit meraphysics or philosophy

    1. Mark - your comment shows you have no idea what you are talking about. Do you know what metaphysics even means?

    2. I'm new to your site. Just to make sure I properly understand your article, do you hold that it is unreasonable to ask for evidence of God?

    3. I'm new to your site. Quick question, to make sure I properly understand your article, before further responding: do you think it's unreasonable for a person to ask for evidence of God?

  4. Thanks for the question, Hayden. No, I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for evidence. However, it is unreasonable to say the only basis for any belief is evidence. That was my point above.

  5. The threat of hell used to be quite sufficient.Then it was the numerous sightings of ark strewn across the slopes of Ararat and a chariot lying at the bottom of the Red Sea. With the realisation that 'no evidence is better than bad evidence'( and theres plenty of that ) it is increasingly becoming a game of words rather than an attempt to provide substantial evidence .I think its a great shame though that imminently intelligent people spend their time performing semantic summersaults in devising intellectual devices to absolve themselves of having to account for the lack of plausibillity in their chosen belief system.


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