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Dear Evangelicals, Positive Claims Require Evidence, and Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

extraordinary claims

Recent posts by Dr. David Tee, whose real name is Derrick Thomas Thiessen, reveal a common problem among Evangelical preachers: they don’t understand the burden of proof. They don’t understand that positive claims require evidence; that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

While the Bible can be used to provide historical evidence for certain claims, just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean it’s true. The Bible is primarily a book of claims, not evidence. Bible proof-texting is not evidence for anything. While quoting Bible verses “feels” like evidence to believers, it’s not. If you want unbelievers to accept your claims, empirical evidence is required. Supernatural (extraordinary) claims require extraordinary evidence. Just because the Bible says Jesus was a virgin-born God-man who resurrected from the dead, healed the sick, walked through walls, turned water into wine, used dirt and spittle to heal blindness, and teleported from one room to another, doesn’t mean these things actually happened. These are faith claims. As a faithless unbeliever, I want to see actual evidence for these claims. Of course, no such evidence exists, yet the unbeliever is to blame for not shutting off their skepticism and rational thinking skills so they can accept these claims.

The problem is Evangelical presuppositions; namely that the Bible is inerrant and infallible; that the Bible is the very words of God; that the Bible is big T TRUTH. How do Evangelicals know the Bible is inerrant and infallible? Their peculiar interpretation of the Bible says it is. in other words, the Bible is inerrant and infallible because it says it is inerrant and infallible. This, of course, is circular reasoning.

Generally, there’s not much value in arguing with Evangelical presuppositionalists. Certainty breeds arrogance. Thoughtful discussion is impossible until these folks can consider the possibility that they could be wrong. I may be an atheist, but I have not closed my mind off to evidence for the existence of God and the claims of the Protestant Christian Bible. So far, all Evangelical apologists give me are either reheated Banquet TV dinners or personal attacks on my character. I am into fine dining these days, Evangelicals, so you might want to move beyond your $1.99 microwave TV dinner arguments. Quoting Bible verses, smearing my name, attacking my partner, children, and grandchildren, threatening me with eternal torture in Hell, or using lame arguments such as Pascal’s Wager will not work with me (and I suspect they will not work with most of the readers of this site).

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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8 Comments

  1. Pingback:Writing Prompts: Burden of Proof & Standards of Evidence - Meerkat Musings

  2. Avatar
    Jeff Bishop

    Thank you Bruce.

    Interesting you reference Carl Sagan, a hero of mine. I purchased and read Como’s and used it as a reference countless times.

    Pretty cool the Voyagers are still working and going ever deeper into space! One of Carls contributions.

    Bruce, sine you mentioned our good friend DEE-T, do you think he would consider answering a pet pieve of Carl Sagan and of course my own.

    DEE-T – One of the most BITTER legacys of Christianity, for Carl, was the decision by the good god men to sack, and burn the Alexandrian library. DEE-T do you think this was “GOOD”?

    I ask, because this selfish act by ignorant men destroyed, DESTROYED, the entire written record of the Bronze Age and much of the Iron Age. On atourch lit night, the cultists set upon the greatest accumulation of written history in the entire world and BURNED IT TO THE GROUND! Poof – 3,500 years of mans history. Cultures come and gone, all record of them destroyed by the good God men. An INCALCULABLE loss. Imagine if secular men marched on Rome and burnt the entire Vatican down, repleat with all the records.

    Your cult deprived the world and the future, our past. For this alone, if I was in charge, your cult would be out of business.

  3. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Bruce, bingo. You summed up what I was also thinking about the thinking/assertions of Tee and his ilk. I am open to examining actual evidence – PLEASE share actual evidence with us, Tee and friends! We WANT to see your evidence! And by evidence, no, I do not mean using the words in the Bible (which one? That’s another argument entirely) or presuppositions based on your particular theology, or appeals to any sort of faulty reasoning. Also, just saying that I’m “unsaved” and thus unable to see/understand your assertions doesn’t count as an excuse for not showing me your evidence.

  4. Avatar
    velovixen

    Jeff, Carl is a hero of mine, too. He was too much of a scientist to stay at NASA. That tells you something.

    Christianity (and to be fair, religion in general ) has done everything it can to suppress true knowledge. The RC Church encouraged secular studies among the Jesuits and a few other orders of priests and nuns only because it realized Lutherans, Calvinists (who were more educated and didn’t celebrate as many holy days) and other children of the Reformation were creating new wealth and the old church wasn’t getting any of it.

  5. Avatar
    Troy

    I love Carl Sagan, sadly the original Cosmos TV series isn’t widely aired. Makes me rather sad, because while Neil DeGrasse Tyson did a fine job (better than my first choice Bill Nye AND had an actual Carl Sagan connection) the original is perfect in delivering Carl Sagan’s Cosmos thesis. Sagan’s wife did Cosmos updates too, which are icing on the cake.

    As for the saying “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, still not sure if this is spot on true. Many things perceived as extraordinary become ordinary with ordinary evidence. For example Michael Faraday’s theory that light was waves of electric and magnetic fields. He was laughed at by the contemporary scientific community. It was eventually proved he was right, and his extraordinary thesis was proved with rather ordinary evidence.

    • Avatar
      grasshopper

      Michael Faraday indeed showed that a wire moving through a magnetic field caused current in the wire, and that a changing current in a wire generated a magnetic field around the wire, but it was about thirty years later that James Clerk (pronounced Clark) Maxwell tied it all together and showed that light was an electromagnetic phenomenom.

      It is an interesting point you make about the evidence being ordinary. If both these gentlemen had lived a thousand years earlier their claims would indeed be extraordinary, but ordinary evidence would be lacking, there being, for instance, no such thing as differential calculus at the time. So, with your ears ringing with cries of “Prove it!” you would be unable to comply.

  6. Avatar
    Bruce Gerencser

    Dr. David Tee’s response:

    https://theologyarchaeology.wordpress.com/2024/06/21/the-burden-of-proof/

    BG’s effort is titled- Dear Evangelicals, Positive Claims Require Evidence, and Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence yet it is a title filled with hypocrisy and ignorance. The hypocrisy is that he refuses to do what he demands others do.

    The ignorance is found in the fact that he ignores all the evidence supporting the biblical content. Christian researchers have been producing evidence supporting the Bible for centuries yet all that production is nothing in his eyes.

    ….

    This is false because we have evidence and have presented it more times than in the years he has been alive. For example, The Bible says the Romans put nails through Jesus’ feet when they hung him on the cross.

    We have two crucifixion discoveries from the Roman era, one in England and one in Israel, that have produced crucified victims with nails through their feet. We know the burden of proof, but his refusal to provide proof for his extraordinary claims means he does not know what the burden of proof is or how it is applied.

    If he claims Jesus was not God and did not rise from the dead, then his word is not good enough because one, he lives 2000 years after the fact, and two, he provides no supporting evidence for his extraordinary claims.

    If he says the OT was edited and compiled in the 7th to 5th centuries BC and the NT canon was a result of a power struggle, he fails for the same two reasons. He was not there and does not know what took place. he needs credible and verifiable evidence to support his claims. Quoting Ehrman and other unbelievers is not evidence but regurgitating false information.

    ….

    Herein lies the problem. As we said in our Noah’s Flood book, even if Christians discover the ark, unbelievers will not accept it as the true ark. They will make some excuse or create other criteria for Christians to meet just so they can remain an unbeliever and not accept the Bible as true.

    In other words, if the unbeliever is not going to accept the physical and verifiable evidence already uncovered, then why would they believe if the ark is uncovered? It is a waste of time presenting evidence to those who refuse to accept the already known evidence.

    ….

    The burden of proof is on him not the Christian as the Christian does not make those claims. We have evidence for our claims.

    “While the Bible can be used to provide historical evidence for certain claims, just because the Bible says something doesn’t mean it’s true.”

    Yes, it does.

    ….

    “The problem is Evangelical presuppositions;”

    No, this is not the problem as Christians do not make presumptions. We know for a fact that the Bible is infallible and inerrant. The 40,000+ OT & NT ancient manuscripts are evidence for those two facts.

    The problem is in the presumptions held by the unbeliever. They presume the bible is fallible, errant, and not filled with evidence or true accounts of history. They have no evidence supporting those presumptions. They just make empty statements based on unbelief, not rational, logical, or critical thinking.

    They certainly do not base those presumptions on credible, verifiable, and solid physical evidence. This brings us back to hypocrisy again. They demand of the Christians what they refuse to do

    ….

    “Quoting Bible verses, smearing my name, attacking my partner, children, and grandchildren, threatening me with eternal torture in Hell, or using lame arguments such as Pascal’s Wager will not work with me (and I suspect they will not work with most of the readers of this site).”

    Of course, those things won’t work with him. he is already condemned to hell. It is no threat but a fact and we are not sure if he and his wife can change this destination or not. Keep in mind that his denial of Christ, the Bible, heaven, and other Christian facts is not based on solid or real evidence but the fact that he listened to evil and had his faith destroyed.

    In the end, the onus is on BG and other atheists to produce the evidence that supports their extraordinary claims. The Christians have already done their part

  7. Avatar
    GeoffT

    Holy sh.t, Tee gets even more stupid by the day, if that’s possible. So what if the Romans nailed victims by the feet as well as by the hands? What does that prove? Sweet FA! And if someone found an Ark I’d say fine, now prove it belonged to Noah and then try and find evidence for this totally imaginary worldwide flood.

    Saying that Jesus is God incarnate is a remarkable claim. Saying that he was crucified is perfectly plausible. Saying that he came back to life is a remarkable claim. I like to think I’m a reasonable person, so I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in saying that, not only is the evidence for points one and three totally lacking, the evidence actually strongly refutes both claims.

    Tee would be terrible if he were to engage in any direct way with intelligent people. Can one imagine him going head to head with Matt Dillahunty or Alex O’Connor? He’d be murdered.

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