Evidence and Faith

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands” Psalm 19:1 (CSB).

An understanding of social science research as practiced by practitioners in the fields of psychology, sociology, history, and religious studies offer support for belief in God.  Many good examples of this can be found in publications such as in The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns: Motivation and Spirituality in Personality by Robert Emmons.

Another good example is Professor Craig Keener’s two volume work, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts.  Keener interviewed people across multiple continents collecting contemporary miracle accounts as a way of disputing philosopher David Hume’s long accepted position that one can conclude that miracles do not happen because miracles are not commonly reported.  Keener’s 1250 pages give sample after sample of contemporary miracle stories from around the world showing that miracles are indeed commonly reported, thus disputing the assumption that Hume’s conclusion is based on.  Therefore, the research proposes that since accounts of miracles are common around the world, it is reasonable to believe that miracles sometimes happen.  Because of Keener’s research, there is a reasonable alternative to philosopher Hume’s belief.  Miracles do happen.

Scientific research rarely “proves” beyond any doubt; it substantiates the evidence that supports a reasonable conclusion.  It shows probabilities.  When one does social science research, such as for certain kinds of doctoral degrees, one must follow processes that have come to be trusted to produce reliable results through disciplined approaches and methodologies that have been tested time and time again by being reapplied and analyzed.  Usually there are educational institutions that stand behind these methodologies and have given oversight to their use by researchers.  Through multiple studies all adhering to tested methodologies reviewed or examined by experts in the field of study, the results come to be accepted.

Even in the physical sciences, much of what we accept as fact is built on supporting evidence; and from this, theories are developed.  In the history of scientific studies, pages are filled with examples of theories that were accepted as fully representative of reality for decades and sometimes even centuries,  only to have been eventually disproven as more evidence was gained through further research.  Relatively recent examples of this can be found in the fields of nuclear physics and quantum mechanics.  

Some scientific theories support belief in God and some do not.  Volumes of research support the conclusion that believing in Christ is a reasonable alternative to other possibilities when the possibilities contradict.  Ultimately faith is a response to God’s revelation of himself and the evidence is in our experience with God after faith is expressed; but there is supporting scientific evidence that is available as a result of disciplined research.  

Stephen Williams, January 22, 2021

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