I have taught Apologetics for 48 years.
One issue of faith and evidence is that people weigh things differently. No one really believes without evidence, but people are made up in such ways that different evidences strike them differently.
- For example, the famous professor John Warwick Montgomery, Th. D. and Ph. D, was influenced by British Analytic Philosophy. For him, the worthy evidence was strictly empirical. The historical documents were trustworthy and proved the resurrection. So that settled it. In this regard, I sometimes tell skeptics to simply read Luke and Acts. The presentation there is so very credible.
- Dr. Kenneth Kantzer, Ph. D. from Harvard, the dean of Trinity
Evangelical Divinity School for many years, a great theological teacher, thought the evidence for the resurrection was good, but unless it was part of the total world view that had convincing power, it was not enough. For Kantzer, the biblical world view in comparison to other world views was the key.
- However, those with direct mystical experiences have what is direct empirical evidence to them. This direct evidence to them settles it. St. Theresa describes her experiences as certain. So also Heidi Baker, the famous missionary to Mozambique. If you read her books, her amazing experiences are certain. Her descriptions are sometimes like St. Theresa of Avila. Those with visions don’t always get them as a product of super hard disciplines like Theresa. The Apostle Paul was simply overwhelmed with a vision on the way to Damascus. After that, he argued from the Scriptures, but before that, he did not see the weight of the Scriptures that proved the case for Yeshua. The famous child painter, Akiani, has an amazing catalog of experiences since her childhood. You would well to look her up. I have a book of her amazing paintings. Some people just know by reading a text of Scripture. They know by the witness of the Spirit to them.
- Then there the direct experiences of those who have had near-death experiences. Some who were not believers before becoming believers and become certain of their faith. The book by John Burke, Imagine Heaven, seems quite credible to me.
- I should add those who have seen contemporary miracles. That settles it for them. I have directly witnessed great miracles but was already a believer.
Now I think that some weigh negative evidence against the biblical world view differently. For believers, the negatives are less weighty than their experience of the evidences. For others, the negatives such as the problem of evil and suffering or the disproportionate distribution of blessing and suffering are so weighty that all of the positive evidence is discounted. I think this is a big mistake. As human beings, we have to embrace mystery and the truth that there is enough evidence that we should not discount it due to the negatives.
I think it is well to keep all this in mind in our dialogue.
I think this is all very central to our reflections.