Investigating Christianity: How Can You Give a Reason for What You Believe?

Every person alive believes something. Even a nihilist who ‘believes’ in nothing has to make decisions. The question is if we can back it up. That is something more important than we realize, especially in matters of life or death, or eternal life or death.

I was going to my Connections class when I overheard a conversation. Two ladies were talking about one of their kids. From what I overheard, the kid was questioning Christianity because of something they saw online.

I have no problems with that. I questioned it, too. I still question what I don’t understand. That is why I call myself a student of apologetics. Like the kid, I went to other sources as well, listing them in a previous post “It’s Okay to Question”.

What source does a kid trust the most? First, their parents, or close family. Second, their spiritual leaders, if they have any. The problem comes when they don’t have an answer for the questions asked.

sherlock-holmes-glass_550The answer is in thinking like a detective about your faith. Former atheist and cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace wrote a book titled Cold-Case Christianity that not only answered many of my questions, but also trained me to investigate truth claims like a detective. In it, he lists the following principles:

  • Don’t bring your presuppositions with you instead enter without bias.
  • Learn how to infer by gathering evidence to be weighed against possible scenarios to reach a reasonable conclusion.
  • Think circumstantially; the more evidence that points to the conclusion the stronger the case.
  • Test your witnesses; were they there, are the trustworthy, can it be verified, do they gain anything from it?
  • Hang onto every word, why did they use the language that they did.
  • Separate evidence from artifacts; what’s there, what was added, is there an explanation, what happens if it’s included, and what’s the bulk of evidence say.
  • Resist conspiracy theories, they need small numbers to be effective, good and immediate communications, short time span, significant relational connections, and little to no pressure to succeed.
  • Respect the chain of custody, who had the information from the start to now.
  • Know when enough is enough: beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing evidence, a preponderance of evidence (51%), or some credible evidence. (Nothing historical is empirically testable, it requires forensic science)
  • Prepare for it to be tested, alternative theories, discrediting the evidence, distracting from the cumulative impact of the evidence.

This is how he looked at the Gospels at first, and then worked backwards to Genesis. He looked into Jesus as more than a moral teacher after realizing the Gospels read like eyewitness statements, particularly Mark. God’s Crime Scene is his latest book looking at a case for a creator. In a sense, it is a prequel to his earlier book looking at the case for Christianity. How can you use these principles to work through your own beliefs?

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