Evidence First versus Bible First

“The Christian must be ready to give an answer – a reason for the faith. But what kind of reason should we give? Broadly speaking, there are two positions on the issue. There is the “evidence first” approach, and there is the “Bible first” approach. The “evidence first” approach supporters attempt to show that objective (“neutral”) evaluation of evidence will necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Bible (or creation specifically) must be true. The “Bible first” supporters start with the Scripture, and point out that without first presupposing the Bible, we could not make sense of any evidence anyway.

We’ve already seen that an “evidence first” approach will not rationally resolve worldview disputes. Evidence is very useful when we agree on how it should be interpreted. But when the rules of interpretation are the very thing being disputed (as is the case with the origin debate), evidence by itself will not settle things. So when people say that they believe that a sufficient amount of scientific evidence is the way to prove creation or evolution, this shows that they really do not understand what is going on.

People will always interpret the evidence in light of their worldview. Therefore, evidence by itself will not cause a rational person to reconsider his or her worldview. The evidence-first position also commits the pretended neutrality fallacy. There is no “neutral” evaluation of evidence. All facts are interpreted through a person’s worldview – there are no exceptions. An “evidence-first” approach is simply not rational because it does not deal with the real issue: competing worldviews.

On the other hand, the Bible-first approach is what we’ve been using throughout this book. We could restate the ultimate proof of the Bible as: “The Bible must be the ultimate standard because no other standard can make knowledge possible.” The Bible must come first; it must be presupposed before we can properly evaluate evidence. Notice that the Bible-first approach does make use of evidence. But since all evidence must be interpreted through an ultimate standard, we must always start with the Bible (the only possible consistent and self-attesting ultimate standard) when we interpret any evidence.

A Bible-first position doesn’t necessarily mean that the Bible is chronologically first in terms of when we come to believe things. Clearly, we must trust our senses before we can read the Bible, which provides the justification for reliability of senses. Rather, the Bible-first approach simply means that the Bible is foundational – it is the ultimate standard. It means that when we argue for the truth of the Bible, we must begin our argument by presupposing the Bible as our supreme criterion for evaluating all facts. Critics will accuse us of circular reasoning, but we have already shown in the previous chapter that such reasoning is logically necessary and not fallacious if done properly. Remember, all people must appeal  to their ultimate standard even when defending it. But according to Scripture, only the Bible can do this successfully; only the biblical God can be the foundation for knowledge (Prov. 1:7; Col, 2:3). No one has ever been able to come up with another ultimate  standard that can account for rationality, science and morality.”

(Lisle, Ultimate Proof For Creation, 156-57)

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