Sunday, June 7, 2009

Evidence Vs. Evidence or The Battle of the Bags

Evidence. When it comes to anything religious everyone (including my dear mama) who tries to prove their views on religion against others has got a bag full of logical, historical, and scientific evidence (I've got my bag sitting next to me right now). These may either strengthen your own argument or used to pull the rug out from under your opponents. But does evidence lessen or increase the validity of the view your supporting? What happens then if the evidence is later disproved, do we come up with new evidence? Does it then render your beliefs outdated and worthless?

[Mesha stele (also called the Moabite stone) - a Transjordan stele (c.850 BC) describing the victories of Moabite king Mesha over the Kingdom of Israel. French scholar AndrĂ© Lemaire suggested that line 31 of the Stele bears the phrase "the house of David" (in Biblical Archaeology Review [May/June 1994], pp. 30–37)]

Prove it. Not only do these two words hint at a disbelief in our fellow man (why should we be quick to take each others words anyway?) but it shows that we're too lazy to look up the information itself. Prove it.

So we each take out our bags of evidence and duke it out, but the point is missed entirely. We can not prove that our views, statements and beliefs on God, religion, and spirituality ring truer based on evidence which may be disproved in the future. Saying that Islam is an evil religion is as false and misleading as saying that a book written and edited by man is inerrant and infallible. One may believe these things but these have no basis on facts. This is not to say that we can't find evidence to support certain claims within the battling communities. If we dig into the ground and we find that Nazareth did not exist during the life of Christ, as some claim based on "evidence", then we are left with two choices: either it did and we move on taking our shovels to go dig elsewhere, or it did not and we should reexamine what we know of Jesus and Nazareth (or Jesus the Nazarene). Science is man's tool which is used to study these tangible clues to our past. Our science is not 100% foolproof when handling and examining evidence which is why we have theories. Once we have refined our scientific methods a bit more and dig up more clues then we can make boldly say that the Earth does revolve around the Sun or, to stay on topic, that there were other Christianities that sprung up, but eventually died out, along with the proto-orthodox Christianity which won the battle. Losers don't get to write the history books.

This is where faith steps into the battle of the bags. It may not mean a thing to you that Nazareth may not have existed during the time of Christ or that we may have evolved from our Auntie Ida, but to many many people any evidence that contradicts their own bag of evidence is a definite problem. Why? Because evidence shapes how we view the Divine. Again I believe we are missing the point. If we base our faith on evidence we're always faced with the fear of that evidence crumbling from beneath our feet. Why stand on evidence to support your views/beliefs instead of standing on the principles that are at the heart of your beliefs? If your beliefs cause you to be a more compassionate, loving, and reasonable person, why muck it up with evidence like the Mesha stele? Sure it may be a reference to the house of David but it doesn't teach us anything about the historical David. Don't get me wrong, the Mesha stele is incredibly important that it seems to verify the existance of the Kingdom of David but it stops there. It doesn't prove that God exist nor anything else for that matter. Our bags of evidence may be worth their weight in some areas of study but it comes to a point where they become meaningless in others. What does the age of the Earth have to do with my faith in God? Either it's billions of years old or it isn't. What does the character of God as portrayed in the Old Testament have to do with MY love for my fellow man? God can be a loving, benevolent Deity, a bloodthirsty, childish God, non-existent or He may even be a flying spaghetti monster (everlasting praise to His Noodliness); regardless of his character I'm still going to continue loving my fellow man.

Any and all evidence, be they logical, historical, or scientific, in relation to religion should be considered, discussed, and debated so that we may continue to increase man's knowledge of our collective spirituality. But we can not explain away any evidence that disagrees with our personal views. We must face these challenging questions in an ever changing world, and if that means we need to reform our views on the Divine so that we may move forward I'm all for it. Polytheism had it's time in the sun before Monotheism came into town and, if we don't kill each other off in the process, might lead to an even greater spiritual movement.

Evidence, Shmevidence. Let's drop the gloves (and the bags) and find out the truth together.


Anonymous said...

Great post! You present a good case for writing NOTHING in stone; for being flexible and open-minded. One good reason I don't care for Apologetics.....

Don R

Anonymous said...


By its very nature, historical “evidence” cannot be used to prove nor disprove God – only what various people believed in historical times. There are many things we can learn from these beliefs, but Absolute Divine Truth is not one of them.

Compassion-love-reason, however, are also “evidence” of God that can be discussed and debated. Spirituality transcends the physical. Perhaps we need a C-L-R bag also.

Eruesso said...

We can C-L-R it!

Thanks again Christopher and Don for the comments.

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