Victor Reppert, a Christian philosopher who is a friend of this blog and who has his own blog at Dangerous Idea, argues that Christians really do care about basing their beliefs on the evidence. How does Reppert justify this conclusion? Because of the popularity of Josh McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. In Reppert’s words:
It is interesting that atheists say Christians are not interested in evidence when one of the most popular Christian books of the last 50 years is Evidence that Demands a Verdict
I respect Reppert’s philosophical expertise and critical thinking skills. And I respectfully submit that this isn’t one of his better pieces of reasoning.
I would not want to make a generalization about whether Christians as a group are interested in evidence. But I don’t think Reppert’s attempted refutation of that atheist meme works.
I am very familiar with the book Evidence that Demands a Verdict (ETDAV). Many years ago, I coordinated a team rebuttal to ETDAV known as The Jury Is In: The Ruling on McDowell’s “Evidence.”
The fact that ETDAV is one of the most popular Christian books of the last 50 years has many potential explanations. One explanation is that Christians are open-minded people who are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Another explanation is that many of the Christian readers of ETDAV were looking for confirmation of their Christianity after they became a Christian. Indeed, the content of ETDAV (much like the content of Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ) is a textbook example of understating the evidence. At best, McDowell (and Strobel) presents genuine evidence which does favor Christianity. He does not, however, discuss the evidence against Christianity in his book, so we don’t even have a prime facie reason to believe that McDowell’s book is a good discussion of the total relevant evidence about Christianity (for and against), and so we don’t even have a prima facie reason to believe that the total relevant evidence favors Christianity.
Of course, one could make precisely the same argument about many atheist books, and one would probably be justified in doing so. (Imagine someone who argued that atheists care about the evidence, as shown by the fact that Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion is a best seller. That would be a weak argument and for the same reason.)
Far too many people seem to cherry pick the evidence. But let’s return to Reppert’s post, which is titled, “Is there good evidence for the resurrection?” He writes:
I have yet to see a good theory that explains the historical events without running into serious problems when you look at it closely.