Anyone involved in Christian Apologetics is bound to come in contact with the phrase “There’s no evidence for God’s existence.” In his debate on the topic “Does God Exist,” famed chemist Peter Atkins was adamant, “There is no evidence whatsoever for any assertion that Dr. Craig has made this evening. You have to accept that everything you have heard him say can be accepted on faith, and cannot be demonstrated by evidence.” I’ve argued elsewhere that faith is compatible with apologetics (I’ve also commented on what faith is). I won’t spend time clearing up that particular confusion. Instead, I want to look closely at this popular phrase and see if it holds any water.

What is Evidence?

The first thing on our to-do list is to define what is meant by evidence. People use the term all sorts of ways. A quick Google search lends the following understanding:

Evidence: The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

It is often the case that a body of facts can be interpreted more than one way. For instance, finding DNA evidence at the scene of the crime doesn’t prove the accused guilty. The DNA could have been fabricated (and sometimes is). Evidence doesn’t always lead–logically–to only one conclusion.

Natural Theology

Given Natural Theology (a thriving branch of theology that provides rational arguments for God’s existence), it seems abundantly obvious that we’ve got evidence for God [1]. That is to say, there are bodies of facts (e.g.: the existence of contingent beings, the beginning of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, moral facts, etc.) that arguably lead to the belief “God exists”. According to the definition above, Natural Theology provides evidence for God in the same way that DNA provides evidence the accused is guilty. There can be disagreement how the facts ought to be interpreted, but that doesn’t mean there is literally no evidence.

It’s one thing to say that a certain piece of evidence is unconvincing, but another thing entirely to claim “there’s no evidence whatsoever.” Given Natural Theology, the latter claim is completely indefensible. The DNA evidence is still evidence even if it’s unclear which interpretation of the DNA is correct.

The Need for Empirical Evidence

At this point the atheist might retort that, sure, there are philosophical arguments for God, but there’s no empirical evidence for God, and we require “empirical evidence” if we are to rationally believe something is true (empirical in this context just means grounded in observation or experience). However, this view is self-defeating–if it’s true, it’s false. Simply ask the atheist what “empirical evidence” lead them to believe that. What empirical evidence supports the belief that “empirical evidence is required to rationally believe something is true?” The fact is there is none! So if this view is true, we have no reason to believe it and should therefore reject it.

The best option for the atheist is to abandon using these empty rhetorical phrases. Given Natural Theology, there is obviously evidence for God, even if not everyone finds it convincing. Requiring empirical evidence turns out to be self-defeating. There’s no empirical evidence that empirical evidence is required to rationally believe something. That view is self-defeating and no one should adopt it.

Is there evidence for God’s existence? The answer is, “Of course there’s evidence! Now get your head out of the sand and deal with it.”

[1] See the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology for the most sophisticated arguments from Natural Theology put forth by the world’s leading philosophers.

About the Featured Image

Taken from a moving car (don’t tell my wife!). I was on my way home from work (sitting in traffic as usual) and decided I wanted to see what these clouds looked like through my camera. I’ll let you be the judge if it was worth it.