God or no God? – a cumulative case
A man is on trial for the brutal murder of his wife. You sit on the jury and attentively consider the various pieces of evidence as they are presented by the prosecutor:
- The man’s fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime.
- The victim’s blood was discovered in the man’s vehicle.
- A witness reported seeing the man running from the scene around the time of the murder.
- The victim’s stolen credit card was used to purchase clothing the defendant was wearing at the time of his arrest.
- The victim made a 911 call as she lay dying, breathing out her husband’s name just before she expired.
- The man had been having an affair with his secretary who was pressuring him to leave his wife.
- The man recently bought life insurance on his wife.
- The bullet recovered from the victim’s body matches a gun the defendant owns.
- And the glove fits.
The defense attorney then rises and proceeds to cast doubt on the applicability of several of the items in determining his client’s guilt or innocence. The man regularly used his wife’s credit card, he says. Nothing damning about that. His name was spoken with her last breath because she wanted him there. And fingerprints, though a reliable identifier, only put one at the scene but give no evidence of time or activity.
Once you and the other jurors are free to deliberate, you acknowledge that none of the evidences taken individually are enough to confidently conclude that the man is guilty of murder. There are possible explanations for each that have nothing to do with the crime. Yet the weight of their totality, including the defendant’s lack of a convincing alibi, his failure to demonstrate any genuine grief at the loss of his wife, his cell phone records showing a call made to his mistress shortly after the time of the murder, and her testimony that he told her his wife would never divorce him but there might be another way….leave you with the determination that his guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the same way that the whole body of evidence in a criminal case is greater than the sum of its parts, so too is the case for the existence of God. As I wrote about in my post from a few weeks ago, attempts to discredit particular arguments for theism or Christianity, without providing a more rational explanation of all the evidence, do nothing to convince anyone who wasn’t already predisposed to your position.
The evidences for God are multitudinous, and though possible alternate explanations may exist for each individually, the case must be considered in its totality if one is to be fair and objective. These evidences, or Exhibits A and following, if you will, in the case for the existence of God and Christianity in particular include:
- the scientific evidence for a beginning of the universe from nothing
- the argument from the fine-tuning of the universe
- the obvious appearance of design in biological life
- the existence of objective moral values and duties
- evidence of the immaterial
- the historical reliability of the Bible
- Jesus’ self-identification as the Son of God
- the well-attested reports of the empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and his disciples’ belief in his resurrection
- the high unlikeliness of the rise of Christianity apart from the above reports being true
If weighed on a balance, they combine to form a substantial case for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. Casting doubt on one or two may tip the scales a bit, but disregarding the rest still leaves the Christian worldview as the best explanation of all the evidence.