The Compelling Circumstantial Evidence Of God
What Is Circumstantial Evidence?
You likely have read about court cases where the criminal was convicted on circumstantial evidence. In fact, most criminal convictions are based on circumstantial evidence. It is a type of evidence that infers that something happened as opposed to direct evidence which does not require inference. For example, if you see someone steal a car, that is direct evidence. If you see someone running away from a stolen car, you might infer that they had also stolen it. This would be considered circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence can be very powerful in building a case and when there is enough of it, or it is very compelling, you might say that the evidence is enough to be considered proof beyond a reasonable doubt. While alternative explanations can occur, the key consideration would be to determine if the explanation makes the most sense given the circumstances. Each piece of compelling evidence adds to a thesis that something occurred even when there is no direct evidence.
Is there any compelling circumstantial evidence of God? You bet there is and we will tackle three of them now.
1. Fine Tuning is compelling circumstantial evidence of God.
Fine Tuning is a study that refers to the precision of science and nature’s fundamental constants that have been set to just the right value to allow for life. These constants are ‘fine tuned’ for life in such a way that had they been just a little more or a little less, life would likely not have been possible. It is as though someone or something created a very specific framework with life in mind so that the universe could support life. For the universe to have accidentally been created with just the right precision to support life is so improbable that it is very likely impossible.
The strength of gravity is an example of a cosmic constant that is fine tuned for life. If gravity had been weaker, stars and planets would not have been able to form. Had it only been even a little weaker, the temperature of celestial bodies would have been colder and unable to support life. Had gravity been just slightly stronger, the life of stars would have been shorter and unable to support life.
Even the world famous theoretical physicist and atheist, Stephen Hawking, admitted that the universe is precisely fine tuned for life to exist.
“The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers [the constants of physics] seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.” (A Brief History of Time, p. 125)
2. Intelligent Design is compelling circumstantial evidence of God.
The evidence of Intelligent Design has been around for some time but has only recently taken on a more meaningful place in apologetics. Generally the basis for Intelligent Design is around the complexity of life and that life is irreducibly complex and cannot be explained by natural means. A simplified argument goes something like this:
Imagine that you are walking along a beach and a device of some sort washes up on shore from the water. You pick it up and on closer inspection, you notice that it is circular with a face that is numbered one through twelve around the edge. Additionally it has three tiny pointers that move at different speeds around it’s face. A longer pointer moves fairly quickly compared to the other two and the second longest pointer moves quicker than the third longest pointer. As you time it, you notice it moves with specific precision so that the longer pointer rotates at the rate of 60 times per minute, the second longer pointer rotates at a rate of 60 times per hour, and the shortest pointed rotates only once per hour. You open it up and see tiny gears that make all this work with extraordinary precision. Additionally you notice words written inside the device housing that spell out “watch”.
Would you believe that the watch was some random natural occurrence that arose from the ocean? Or would you immediately be drawn to believing that some intelligent creator made that watch even though it appeared as though it came from the bottom of the ocean?
The answer is obvious and it could be argued that the complexity of life, the universe, and the world at large points to an intelligent creator. In fact, the complexity within our DNA is so precise and defined that it took a multitude of humans just to decode it. You don’t have to be a scientist to see that there indeed appears to be something more to life than just a series of accidents and coincidences.
3. The Moral Law is compelling circumstantial evidence of God.
I almost considered including the Moral Law in the section regarding irrefutable evidence of God since the only logical conclusion you can come to when you study the moral law is that there must be a creator. The irony is that the existence of evil points to the existence of God. ‘How so’ you may ask? Good question.
There really seems to be an overriding moral law that dictates right and wrong for the entire world. In order to see that, you must recognize two things:
1. There is absolute truth.
2. That the moral law is objective and not subjective.
You will find many unbelievers that struggle with one or both of these because if just one of these statements are true, then it calls into question the idea that our moral law is an evolutionary thing. It also calls into question our ability to prosecute bad behavior since our morality was inherited by evolutionary processes which means that a bad person simply was a victim of bad evolution.
Let’s tackle whether there is absolute truth or not. You may hear this expressed different ways such as “what is true for you may not be true for me” or “all things are relative”. No matter how it is expressed, the belief that there is not an absolute truth has a baked in fallacy. If someone ever tells you that there is no truth, ask them if that statement is true. Ultimately they are essentially confessing that every statement out of their mouth is untrue. If they say something like “what is true for you may not be true for me”, the first thing to realize is that they are in effect arguing that there is absolute truth. You can uncover that by simply stating back to them “all things I say are true are true for you”. They either have to acknowledge that your statement is false which is a way of admitting that there is absolute truth since they are saying that your statement is absolutely false. Or they have to agree with you which in turn is a way of agreeing that absolute truth exists.
When it comes to objective moral law versus subjective moral law, if someone ever indicates that moral law is subjective, this falls very quickly as well with just a series of a few simple questions. You can start with highlighting the extremes and get their take on them such as the thought that Hitler considered the genocide of the Jews as morally acceptable. Or that at one point in history, the majority of the public believed that slavery was morally appropriate. It is very hard for someone to allow those morals to be subjective. It doesn’t matter if the majority of the population believed in slavery, it was still absolutely wrong. The moral law against slavery superseded public opinion.
Additionally if they believe that public opinion is the true compass of moral law, then anything and everything that they believe is right is just a vote away from being morally wrong. At that point, it becomes nearly impossible to take firm stances on anything of importance.
Once people understand that there is absolute truth and that moral law is objective, we get to a point to ask, where do morals come from.