What order of evidence should we expect before making a decision to believe in and trust the God of the Bible? We sometimes hear skeptics assert, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” These same skeptics conclude that until “compelling evidence” is supplied they are justified to reject faith.
Now in order to sustain such an assertion they must first brush aside the many classical evidences for faith in God: (1) the instantaneous beginning of the universe (2) the fine-tuning of the universe, (3) the sudden appearance of life, (4) the irreducible complexity of life, (5) the Biblical origin for science, (6) fulfilled Biblical prophecy, (7) the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, and much more. Each of these evidences is extremely strong in its own right, but taken together they are more than sufficient to convince anyone open to the truth. (8)
Yet there must always be a way to chose unbelief. If it were not so, there would be no free will. Freedom must be a genuine possiblity. Therefore, though we may seek “compelling evidence” we can never demand “compelled evidence.” That is because the God of the Bible is not some kind of Cosmic UFC fighter who pounds and strangles us until we finally “tap out.”
Here we should consider the example of Jacob who was actually commended for “wrestling with God.” After his faith had finally matured, God gave him a new name.
“Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Genesis 32:28, ESV).
At any time God could have slammed Jacob to the mat and forced him to submit to his infinitely superior power. Yet he did not. He gave Jacob the freedom to wrestle with the very will of his creator. Jacob did finally grow to believe in and trust God.
Still, some demand that God break into the world to overwhelm all unbelief. They may imagine him ripping open the heavens and booming out, “Don’t make me come down there!” Such an event may well cause us to cower and shake, but it would not necessarily lead to faith in God. Many would respond like the rebellious child forced to take a time-out; “I may be siting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”
So unlike some claims for “compelling evidence” (Islam or atheism), Christian faith is not compelled. The reason is explained by the brilliant theologian, Norman Geisler:
“God has provided enough evidence in life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet has also left some ambiguity so as to not compel the unwilling. In this way, God gives us the opportunity to either love him or reject him without violating our freedom. For love, by definition, must be freely given. It cannot be coerced.” (9)
So it turns out there actually is a way we may be “compelled” to faith. The means? A willing heart responsive to the compelling evidence for God’s love.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8, ESV.
1. See Genesis 1:1. Spacetime, Dr Jason Lisle, https://answersingenesis.org/physics/spacetime/
2. List of Fine Tuning Parameters, Jay W. Richards. http://www.discovery.org/f/11011, there are 20 or more of these parameters in nature. The universe is finely tuned for life, Jonathan Sarfati, http://creation.mobi/the-universe-is-finely-tuned-for-life
3. Burgess Shale’s Cambrian Fossils Should Change Our View of Evolution, by Elizabeth Mitchell. https://answersingenesis.org/fossils/types-of-fossils/burgess-shales-cambrian-fossils-should-change-our-view-of-evolution/
4. The Irreducibly Complex Genome: Designed from the Beginning, by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., http://www.icr.org/article/irreducibly-complex-genome-designed
5. For The Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts and the End of Slavery, by Rodney Stark, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2003. Creation Agnosticism, by Tim Nordgren, http://www.thingsrevealed.net/Creation_Agnosticism.pdf
6. Prophecy as Proof of the Bible, Baker Encylopedia of Christian Apologetics, by Norman Geisler, Baker Books 2000, pp 609-617.
7. Evidence for the Resurrection, by Josh McDowell: http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html
8. Romans 1:20, ESV, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”
9. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norm Geisler and Frank Turek, (Crossway), 2004.
10. The nation of Israel rejected the revelation of God’s will in the Ten Commandments that he spoke directly to them at Mount Sinai (Ex 20:19-22). The awesome display of his power on the mount was intended to lead them to saving faith. Instead they feigned fear and insisted on an intermediary–Moses–to transmit the word of God.