Evidential apologetics you’ll find most clearly in the works of Lee Strobel in his “The Case for…” series. I get the impression this is more popular than Classical apologetics even though Dr. Sproul didn’t like it and disavowed the common conception that he was an Evidentialist. Basically, evidentialism looks at all the unlikely circumstances and events that have developed in the history of the universe and the trend that they point towards being deliberate and conclude that a personal, omnipotent God is directing them. AKA the dreaded Intelligent Design. (For the record, Dr. Sproul didn’t like evidentialism because he felt it leaves a 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000… chance that all these things are coincidental, whereas he felt Classical apologetics is airtight and irrefutable.)

Evidentialism draws heavily on science. A particular favorite is the fine-tuning of the constants of the universe. If you remember your high school science classes, these constants are the numbers in the equations that you have to memorize (or not, depending on if your teacher was nice enough to give you those with the test questions themselves) because they’re the same each time you run the equations. There’s a gravitational constant of the universe, specific heat for water, the speed of light, and many other things that don’t change. What impresses the evidentialists is how these constants have to be set to an extremely precise value in a relatively very narrow range to support life in the universe. To use an example from Strobel’s The Case for a Creator, if the gravitational constant were to increase just a relatively little, the earth would be compressed too small to maintain any real life, and anything that did live on it would be practically stuck to it because it wouldn’t have the strength to lift itself. The list goes on and on from there.

Taking Chance as our straw man here, as in Classical Apologetics, the evidentialists ask, what’s the likelihood of all these fine-tunings being coincidental? We don’t know of any reason why the universe had to spit out these values, which presumably could have been set at any of an infinite array of numbers, at the precise setting for life, so did Chance rig them all? Well, running all those probabilities, The Case for a Creator points out, leads to a decimal so small it takes more zeroes to write it out than there are atoms in the universe. Many Christian scientists conclude the logical explanation is an omnipotent being intending to make life in the universe set it up that way.

Life itself is another angle of the evidentialists. The cell, the most basic unit of life, is extremely complex. They’re so complex that it would take millions of coincidences to create one just by natural causes. There’s, say, 150 amino acids in the simplest protein times twenty amino acids for each spot in the chain, all having to be exactly right for the protein to function, times hundreds of proteins in each cell times three base pairs of DNA per amino acid times the billions of triplets of base pairs in DNA, all needing to be in the precise order to get even one working cell. Chance must be really lucky to get all those probabilities right (and quick since the product of those all occurring exceeds the number of milliseconds since the Earth began).

Once you get a cell and then higher-level organisms, the problem multiplies because of a concept called irreducible complexity. Most organisms have adaptations that are very complex. They require all the pieces to be there in working order, or the whole thing doesn’t work. The eye and the flagellum motor in bacteria are the examples most often cited. If one of those components is missing, the feature is a useless liability, the kind of thing natural selection would select against. Chance had to get all those mutations right on the first try!

The Cambrian explosion is linked to this concept. The Modern Synthesis of biology maintains that mutations in DNA lead to different characteristics that make organisms over the course of time better suited to their environment, which traits they pass on. The process takes time, presumably a lot of it since you’re going one or two mutations at a time. At the opening of the Cambrian period, though, you have every phylum of animal suddenly coming into existence without intermediate species in a space of time so short it would require mountains of coincidences to produce them. Darwin himself admitted that the fossil record didn’t bear him out, and something the scale of the Cambrian explosion in the big picture far outweighs the rare finds evolutionists later got ahold of, like Archaeopteryx.

Personally, I would add history to the mix of evidence. Is there any more unlikely religion to have spread worldwide than Christianity? Through centuries of onslaughts and oppressions including three Holocausts (massacres by the Assyrians/Babylonians, Romans, and Nazis), the Jews have survived as a nation long enough to produce a Messiah with the possibility remaining that they will one day turn back to Him like Paul predicted. The Church has grown in size and influence against all odds. In its beginning, after being founded by an executed convict followed by uneducated fishermen, it ticked off both the religious leaders of its parent religion and the most powerful empire of the day, but neither could destroy it. No one else has succeeded in stomping it out either despite all the attempts. Basically, every evil empire in history has wanted to wipe out Christianity, and yet it has still grown.

It always seems that some miracle saves it. When barbarians brought down the civilization Christianity had built in the Roman Empire, Clovis experienced a sudden turnaround in battle just in time to bring the Franks to convert. When the Church was languishing in superstition, the printing press came into existence just in time to disseminate the Reformation’s writings. When Suleiman the Magnificent came to conquer a Europe divided by the Reformation, remarkably heavy rains deprived him of his heavy siege guns outside of Vienna. And even when the bad guys win, they can’t take out the Church. Coincidences, all, or intentional, all?

Since I have decided to make my posts shorter, I can’t go into all the evidences for God’s intervention in the universe. In my faith, we believe that everything points to the glory of God since He directs it all to Himself (Romans 11:36). I think you’ll find this paradigm helpful when you drill down into it to try to win over your friends who for all their lives have been told science disproves God’s creation. Please refer to my very first post for a list of the giants of science who have believed in God. We match their appeal to science with a bigger appeal to science.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s