Creation Vs. Evolution: Do Christians Avoid Contrary Evidence?

Christians do not avoid contrary evidence because we don’t believe that there is such a thing as “contrary” evidence. When a Christian confronts the relevant data, the data is then interpreted and deemed evidence for a particular hypothesis given certain presuppositional commitments that are brought to the investigation. For example, when considering the debate between creationists and evolutionists, what we have are two worldview perspectives confronting the same data. Fossil deposits can be observed by both creationists and evolutionists, however, the conclusions derived from these observations will be dependent upon one’s worldview commitments and presuppositions. The data observed (i.e. fossils, rock layers, etc.) do not become “evidence” for a particular view until one’s presuppositions are applied to the data and hence interpretations and conclusions are derived.

A vital mistake in these sort of debates come when we assume that persons come to the data (fossils, rock, layers, etc.) with an intellectual blank slate, that is to say, they come to the data in a neutral and unbiased fashion. This commits the pretended neutrality fallacy. No one comes to data of any kind without worldview commitments and presuppositions. One’s worldview informs what the person believes about the nature of reality, how we come to know what we know, and how we are to live our lives. These foundational commitments even affect scientific investigation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that the data we confront when doing science does not speak for itself. The data must be interpreted and this is done through the lens of our worldview.

Now it is important to recognize that the line of reasoning just put forth seems to commit the logical fallacy of circular reasoning/begging the question; this is when a person assumes the very thing they are seeking to prove. While I readily admit that the above statements are examples of circular reasoning, they are not the same as the “fallacy” of circular reasoning. In philosophical reasoning, there are fallacious forms of circular reasoning (vicious circularity) and non-fallacious circularity (This form may appear when we are dealing with our ultimate commitments). A form of vicious circular reasoning occurs when we assume what we are trying to prove, yet the particular assumption actually defeats one’s argument. The following is an example of vicious circular reasoning/begging the question: “Creation cannot be true because you would have to ignore all that scientific evidence.” Notice the vicious circularity of this statement: It presupposes that scientific evidence provides support for the evolutionary perspective; but whether or not it does is the very thing in question in the debate. Non-fallacious circularity does not commit the logical fallacy in the way the previous statement did. For example, if one were to seek to demonstrate the reliability of the human eye, they would be well within their rational and logical right to utilize their eyes to do so. Or again, if we sought to demonstrate the validity of logic in our thinking, it is necessary that we also assume the validity of using logic in our thinking. To not do so would be self-defeating. Hence, the fallacious form of circular reasoning is arbitrary while the non-fallacious form of circular reasoning is not.

All this to say that Christians do not avoid contrary evidence because there is no contrary evidence to avoid. There are contrary interpretations of the data observed, but not contrary evidence. Data is interpreted in light of one’s worldview, and is considered “evidence” when the interpretation conforms to the particular hypothesis in question. Because the Christian worldview provides the necessary worldview ingredients for rationality and science, we do not run from the data. We welcome the data and are confident that the Christian worldview provides the proper intellectual framework with which to make sense of the data we confront.

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