Different objects (God and apples) require different kinds of evidence for their detection


by Matt Slick
1/12/2019

 

Atheists often demand that Christians produce evidence for God's existence. But, different things require different types of evidence and methods used to verify their existence. Furthermore, there is the problem of subjectivity in that different people will need different types of evidence to be convinced of something. So, there is a level of subjectivity to this endeavor.

Below is a table that illustrates how different things require different methods of determining their existence. The table is not meant to be exhaustive, but illustrative. Of course, some people may disagree with some of the categorizations I've made, but the point should stand that different objects require different types of evidence and various means by which evidence is accumulated, and something's existence is validated.

 

TABLE 1
Objects Methods/Evidence of Discovering Objects
OBJECT HUMAN BASED DETECTION BY
Accident, Balance, Cognition, Experience, Hearing, Intuition, Logic, Revelation, Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch, Writing
INSTRUMENT BASED DETECTION OF
Charge, Density, Dimension, Frequency, Luminocity, Mass, Pressure, Radiation, Temperature, Time, Velocity, Volume
  Acc Bal Cog Exp Hrg Int Lg Rv Sgt Sm Tst Tch Wri Chr Dens Dim Frq Lum Mss Pre Rad Tmp Tm Ve Vo
Apples     X X         X X X X   X X X   X X   X X     X
Beauty     X X     X                                    
Dinosaurs                 X       X     X                  
Electrons             X             X X       X         X X
Fossils X   X   X   X X         X     X             X    
Emotions     X X X X X           X                        
GOD     X X   X X X         X                        
Heat       X               X                 X X      
Hist. Persons X   X       X X         X                        
Information     X X X   X X         X                        
Intention                                                  
Logic     X X     X           X                        
Love     X X       X                                  
Mathematics     X     X X           X                        
Memory     X X                 X                        
Morals     X X   X X X                                  
Planets             X   X             X   X X   X     X X
Poetry     X X X               X                        
Science*     X   X X X           X                        
Value§     X X   X   X         X                        

 

As you can see from Table 1, some things exist which cannot be evidentially determined using any instrument. Such things are beauty, information, logic, mathematics, memory, poetry, values, etc. The scientific method which consists of observation, hypothesizing, experimentation, and theorizing to obtain information and predictability is primarily applicable to physical objects (apples, electrons, planets, etc.) and the properties of those physical objects (heat, radiation, etc.).

Below is another table adding aspecs such as material, immaterial, conceptual as well as properties. 

 

TABLE 2
Objects Methods/Evidence of Discovering Objects
OBJECT TYPES OF OBJECT
Material,
Immaterial
Concept
PROPERTIES
 OF OBJECTS
Color, Density,
Mass, State,
Volume, Radiation
SENSES
Balance, Cognitive, Hearing, Sight, Smell, Tast, Touch

 
L
O
G
I
C
INSTRUMENTS
Charge, Density,
Photographic,
Radiation, Scale,
Size, Velocity, etc. Writing/myth
  Matrl Immatl Cncpt Cl Ds Ms St Vl Rd Bl Cog Hr Si Sm Ta To   Chg Dns Pht Rd Sc Sz Vl Wr
Apple X     X X X X X         X   X X     X X   X      
Beauty   X X               X                           X
Dinosaurs X                                   X            
Electrons X       X X   X                 X X X         X  
Emotions   X X               X                            
Fossils X       X X   X X       X     X   X     X        
GOD   X                 X         X X               X
Heat   X             X             X         X        
Hist. Persons X   X               X           X     X         X
Information   X X               X           X                
Intention   X X               X                            
Logic   X X               X           X                
Love   X X               X                            
Mathematics   X X               X           X                
Memory   X X               X           X                
Morals   X X               X                            
Planets X     X X X X X X       X       X   X X X   X X  
Poetry   X X               X                           X
Science*   X X               X                            
Value§   X X               X   X       X                

† Logic is an abstraction and in this case, categorized as an object as a topic to be discovered.  But, it is also a method of discovery.

* By Science I mean the approach, philosophy, and/or procedure of disovery, hypothesizing, testing, modifying, and theorizing.  Science, is a conceptual procedure that is applied to the material world in order to learn.

§ Different objects have different values per culture, monetary conditions, and peoples' preferences:  gold has a monetary value.  Art has an aesthetic value.  Also, there are values related to compassion, honesty, loyalty, motivation, etc.

Conclusion

Evidence for something's existence is dependent on the object being considered. Physical objects such as apples, fossils, and planets would require different detection methods than would conceptual objects such as beauty, love, and value. So, when atheists ask for evidence of God's existence, they must consider that since God is immaterial, a different method of detection must be proposed other than those that are material based. To ask for material based evidence for an immaterial object has its philosophical challenges. After all, different objects (i.e., apples, love, morals) require different types of evidential support and detection to ascertain their existence.  

 

 

 

 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.