Over the past several weeks, two situations have crossed my path. Both of them, in their own way, collaborate with a particular way of looking at the role of evidence in establishing the truthfulness of a premise, or a hypothesis.
One situation was hearing a person refer to how reality confirms or verifies the truthfulness of Scripture. The gentleman used the analogy of parents typically teaching their small children to be careful with a stove. On one hand, the parents say to the child that the stove can become hot enough to burn the child’s fingers. With that statement ringing in the child’s ears, the parents carefully move the child’s hand close enough to the stove for the child to begin sensing the stove’s heat. It is a case of the parents’ words being verified by the reality of a stove that is actually very hot. The verification of the truthfulness of what the parent says about the stove is not based on previous statements made by the parents about other things. The verification is, rather, based on the stove actually being hot enough to burn the child’s hand.
The second situation was seeing Ronald Nash’s comments in chapter 3 of World-Views in Conflict on how inductive reasoning works. He points out that “as the amount of confirmatory information increases, so does the probability of the truth of the hypothesis increase. A large number of observations taken together provides a cumulative case enhancing the likelihood that the hypothesis is true.” (p. 68). [BTW, I recommend Nash’s book to you.]
This approach has, for a long time, appeared to me valuable when considering how apologetics should be done. The approach is parallel to how empiricism dovetails with rationally deduced truth. The major premise in syllogistic deductive reasoning is verified with empirical testing. Rather than “turning to the Bible” to “prove” that God exists, hypothesis verification does things just the opposite way. Yes, the Bible is God’s book. But, the proof for the claim that God is the ultimate author of the Bible is in the pudding. When one lives according to the Bible, reality verifies the Bible’s truthfulness.