"How much God could proof of God prove if proof of God could prove God?"
That line from my Intro to Philosophy professor has stuck with me all these years. I mentioned in a previous blog that some atheists often say that there is no proof that God exists. I have seen in conversations and debates where an atheist will say, "There is no evidence." The Christian then offers some evidence which the atheist dismisses with a wave of their hand. The comments usually amount to something like "That's not real evidence" or "That doesn't prove God exists."
Sadly, too often I have seen or heard the Christian then scramble to explain something another way or find additional information that would be better evidence. The problem is, often the atheist has already stacked the deck by defining "evidence" and "proof" in such a way, setting the standard so high, that nothing a theist can offer would qualify.
The problem is not with the Christian's evidence. The problem is that the atheist is getting to redefine the terms. I'm not saying that they are necessarily being sinister or tricky, they may indeed genuinely believe the definitions they use, but their position is seeking to rewrite the dictionary.
It would seem that the definition of "evidence" and "proof" have been corrupted by the individual's existing belief. Many times atheists hold to naturalism, materialism, physicalism, and/or scientism. While these all have separate specific meanings and uses, they all generally involve the idea that the only knowledge or data that counts is what is experiences through the 5 senses: touch, taste, hearing, seeing or smell. If it is not experienced or observed using those senses, then it can't be objective or actually known with any certainty. This view of the world has informed their definition of "evidence" or "proof" to automatically exclude anything that does not fit.
However, if you actually look up the definitions of these terms, you find a much broader use. (See definitions below from dictionary.com)
Evidence does not mean only direct evidence.
Proof does not mean absolute certainty.
Anything that points to the validity of a conclusion is evidence or proof of that conclusion, whether it is a physical thing or an abstract idea. Logic, reason, feelings, mathematics, etc. These all count as evidence in all kinds of instances, but they are not physically obtained.
I've talked before about serving on a jury. In a criminal case, most of the evidence is not going to be direct evidence like DNA, fingerprints, or camera footage. Most of the evidence is indirect evidence from which the prosecution builds their case.
In the case I was involved with, the charge was conspiracy to transport drugs. There was no direct evidence that put drugs in the hands of the person in question. Drugs were found in his house. Known drug dealers were seen coming and going. Vehicles known to have left his house had drugs stashed in them. His wife testified that he always had money but no regular employment. A large stash of cash was found in his house. Known drug dealers and suppliers in custody testified that they used his house as a stop off point between themselves and the local dealers. There were photographs of the defendant partying with known drug dealers and smugglers.
NONE of this directly put drugs in the possession of the defendant or empirically shows that he was knowingly allowing drugs to pass through his house. Indeed the defense's argument was that the worst he was guilty of was keeping bad company but was not directly involved in the trafficking of drugs.
Does that mean it is not "evidence" since it is not empirical (at least related to the defendant with drugs)? Of course not. It is clearly evidence.
Did the prosecution "prove" that the defendent was involved in trafficking drugs? According to the judge's instructions on "reasonable doubt" a jury took only a few hours to come to a conclusion, and the man is now in jail. That would seem to say "yes".
The claim was that a particular person had done a particular activity. Evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he had. It was not specific, direct evidence which removed 100% of uncertainty. However, the indirect evidence as a whole built the case and laid out the circumstances which were reasonably explained ONLY by the conclusion that he was guilty.
When it comes to God, the evidences (morality, logic, philosophy, scientific data, etc.) may not directly "prove" God. However, taken as a whole, the circumstances laid out by the evidence is reasonably explained only by the conclusion that the God of the Bible exists and His Word is true.
noun ɪdəns/ [
1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.
3. Law. data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.
1. evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.
2. anything serving as such evidence: What proof do you have?
3. the act of testing or making trial of anything; test; trial: to put a thing to the proof.
4.the establishment of the truth of anything; demonstration.
5.Law. (in judicial proceedings) evidence having probative weight.
verb (used with object), proved, proved or prov·en, prov·ing.
1. to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument: to prove one's claim.
2. Law. to establish the authenticity or validity of (a will); probate.
3. to give demonstration of by action.
4. to subject to a test, experiment, comparison, analysis, or the like, to determine quality, amount, acceptability, characteristics, etc.: to prove ore.
5. to show (oneself) to have the character or ability expected of one, especially through one's actions.