What's the hard evidence for Christianity?

On Reddit, a seeker asks this question:

So I would say I’m a seeker. I just find the arguments for Christianity so flimsy. For example, the gospels and their far later dating. I have heard pray and he will reveal himself to you. Going on six months of trying to pray, talk to God, and reading scripture. Nothing. How do you all have faith in Christianity given the lack of hard evidence?

Discussion Questions:

If this person was your friend, would you feel prepared to respond?

How would you care for their heart - six months of effort to talk to God has resulted in ‘nothing’?

How would you engage his mind - there’s “a lack of hard evidence”?


Hello @Carson,

Prepared?..I am not sure that anyone is completely prepared or even think that they would have all of the answers to those seeking answers. But we do need to prepare…for which I am thankful for the questions you are asking. It is part of what it means to be prepared… :slightly_smiling_face:

I think your question about dealing with the struggles that the person has experienced is an important place to start. Asking some questions to try and understand what the person has been doing to make a connection with God, and then what they expect for meaningful answers to verify that a connection has been made is a good foundation to lay. :thinking: During this process of gaining info it will be important to express empathy to let the person know that there is care and concern for the person behind the questions that are being raised. :hugs:

Then to proceed to address his concern about the “lack of hard evidence”. Again I think a couple of clarifying questions would be helpful to understand what he has investigated and what he is looking for in hard evidence. :thinking:

Ultimately Christianity is rooted in the authority of the scriptures, therefor I would again start by posing questions and then demonstrating the reliability of the scriptures through the science of textural criticism. Comparing the scriptures against other ancient manuscripts with regards to the volume of ancient manuscripts and then their nearness to the original autographs. After that I would probably talk about how the original writers of scriptures describe how they were eyewitnesses to the events that they are writing about. Next I would look at an example from scripture Mark 2:1-12 comes to mind. Reading through this passage I would focus on verse 10 “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. Jesus lived His life so that we would KNOW that He is God and that He has the power to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins against a completely holy and righteous God. We are not left without evidence, but we need to actively investigate the evidence that God has given for Himself, then we will know that He is God and will be able to forgive our sins. Christianity is not a mystical religion, it is founded on personal testimony and evidence so that we will know. Some of the most intelligent people throughout the ages have been born again Christians. If you were to look back in history at the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize….the majority (65 percent) of them are Christians. In closing I would mention to him that the heart will not accept for very long that which the brain rejects. Then I would encourage him to seek the Lord through testing the scriptures. If he is truly looking for evidence I would recommend a couple of books for him; Case for Christ, Cold Case Christianity, or Person of Interest. :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi Don,

I appreciate your acknowledgement of this. I feel the same way. I think when we can acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers that it builds trust. When we pretend to be experts in every possible question about Christianity, at some point we will be exposed. That will break trust in our relationships.

I couldn’t agree more. I think if we skip this phase we might engage with surface level issues and miss the real concerns of their heart. Also, it might demonstrate that our concern is more about winning an argument than caring about them as a person.

If I try to sum up your argument, it seems to have a few key phases:

  1. Textual criticism shows us that what we have today is something very near to the original autographs
  2. The authors of these documents - particularly the gospels - provides eyewitness testimony about the events of Jesus’ life
  3. Jesus himself sought to demonstrate his divinity in various ways so that we could know he is God.
  4. To honor the seriousness of his question, an invitation into a respectful, in-depth, ongoing process of investigation is appropriate.

As for Person of Interest, I am still weighing how to evaluate the argument provided there.

Jonathan McClatchie offers a robust review of the book here:

He points out that perhaps the book overstates its case, e.g.:

[Jim Wallace] even states in the book that, though “we don’t have Jesus’s body, and we don’t have a ‘crime scene’ to provide us with physical evidence…we can still make a case for the historicity and deity of Jesus. We can do it without a body — and without any evidence from the New Testament . You read that correctly. [Emphasis in original]” (p. xvii). Statements like these appear to be quite emphatic that you could demonstrate the truth of Christianity without any appeal to the New Testament.

He also illuminates specific examples where the book omits information that would weaken the case. For instance,

One concern I had with this section of the book is that Wallace relies on highly controversial premises but fails to alert his readers to any of the scholarly objections that may be levelled against his arguments. For example, though Wallace mentions very briefly the prophecies of Daniel regarding Alexander the Great, Wallace does not — either in the text or in a footnote — inform his readers that the majority of scholars believe that Daniel’s prophecies were composed ex eventu (after the events they purport to predict), being written around 164 B.C. during the Maccabean revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and that pinpointing the dating of Daniel’s composition is in fact a quite complex matter.

Further, he argues that if Wallace’s claims are reduced to a more humble claim, than it fails to be as interesting:

It is overwhelming indeed that Jesus is an intriguing figure who had a large impact on history. But this conclusion is not particularly interesting, since this claim is so weak as to be obvious to any thoughtful person.

For these reasons, I am still considering whether or not to recommend Person of Interest. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the book!



Yes I think you have understood what I was trying to say.

A few comments on some of the concerns with “Person of Interest”

Many people that question “the truth of Christianity” do not accept the scriptures as being authoritative, and thus not meaningful to them. So as I read the book it has given me additional evidence and apologetic talking points that are somewhat removed from the scriptures but are still founded on clear thinking and historical realities related to the truth of Christianity.

Now whether the case is over stated or not may be somewhat subjective. But I think it should be noted that in the preface to the book he does tell the readers that he did investigate the gospels using applied forensic statement analysis in his first book “Cold Case Christianity”. My take away was that he covered the reliability of the gospels and New Testament in his previous book and this book is focusing on different investigative techniques. Also at the end of the book he talks about his own particular journey which included investigating the gospels and then having to make a decision. Then on p. 252 he goes back to the trail and the jury, reinforcing how much easier it would have been for the jury to make a decision if they had eyewitness testimony….which we have in the gospels. He then goes on the say that Jesus spoke as though He was God, accepted the worship of others like God, described Himself as God and then claimed that He had the power to forgive sins. Then given the nature of these assertions each person must decide if these claims are true. I think the book is a good tool in that decision process.

As I review his comments on the book of Daniel I have to admit that I am not an expert on the dating of the writings of the Book of Daniel and I do know that it is somewhat controversial. But my understanding is that the controversy is based upon some of the words (like “lyre, harp, and pipes”) and language (“Chaldean”) used in the book. I am not sure how valid these arguments are as compared to the internal evidence from within the book and the historical value that the Jews put on the book. To the best of my understanding the ancient Jews include Daniel in the Tanakh (T–Torah, N–Nevi’m, K–Kethuvim) from the beginning, it was not a late addition.

I believe the passage that was mentioned, referring to Alexander the Great is found in Daniel 8. Daniel 8 begins by dating itself; 3rd year of Belshazzar’s reign. I believe this is around 553BC. If someone does not like the internal dating from within the book, I am wondering what does that say about the reliability of all of the scriptures. Also I believe Josephus (Antiquities 11.8.5 (329)-(339)) records Alexander the Great being shown the prophecy given in Daniel and acknowledging the validity of the prophecy and believing that he was the one that was spoken about. For me this adds further validity to the whole of scripture being divine rather than merely human in origin. To sum it all up, I am not sure if Wallace has over stated his claims or if McLatchie (the majority of scholars) has over stated his claims. :thinking:

Maybe the people that I relate to (or me personally) am not that thoughtful

but I have gained some new insights and plan to use the material as opportunities arise. :smiley:

All the best as you evaluate it yourself. :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi @don, I appreciate that! To change the topic a bit, what were the most valuable parts of Person of Interest for you? Have there been opportunities to utilize that information in conversations, to spark curiosity and interest in Jesus?

A good point. Here’s a follow-up: what’s the difference between apologetics and scholarship? Should apologists engage with the arguments that seem to point the other direction - or build a case under the best-case assumptions regarding the strength of the evidence?

That is, if we make an argument from fulfilled prophecy, can we provide the conclusion - this prophecy was fulfilled here - or do we need to work through alternative explanations too? Along the lines of, “Here are four other alternatives - and why I don’t find them as compelling?”


Hi there again @Carson …good discussion. :slightly_smiling_face:

A couple of the things that I thought were interesting;

  1. The narrow time line that he laid out for the birth of the savior. This is not clear evidence and thus critical to our faith. But it is rather cloaked evidence that helps confirm the clear evidence that we have.
  2. The impact the Jesus had on the teaching of all other religions. All other religions (including those that came before Jesus) have made some sort of accommodations to the life and death of Christ. Although some have not been accurate accommodations, they still recognized Christ in a meaningful way. And then conversely to that, Jesus and Christianity made no accommodations to any other worldviews.
  3. The total impact of Jesus and Christianity on aspects of world culture….the arts (pictures, sculptures, etc.), every field of scientific investigation, music (both secular and Christian including days gone by as well as current musicians), the written word (books, poems, life advice, etc.), the institutes and structure for human learning (spiritual growth, children learning, schools, mature learning, universities, etc.)

I haven’t had opportunity to share with people outside of our faith yet but I have shared with some inside the faith….I do continue to pray for those opportunities though.

Engaging Scholarship???
I am interested in your thoughts here as well?? :thinking:

When I think about engaging in scholarship, I try and engage with scholarship to the degree with which the scholarship has been engaged. As an example I find that the book that led to our discussion was footnoted as to where Wallace’s info came from, and thus his conclusions logically came from that info. But the critic that was quoted provided no documentation that I am aware of, so for me it is no more than opinion. Which is fine, but it is hard to engage in a meaningful way.

Interesting question, as I have read through different opinions on views within the family on eschatology or creation (two of the areas that result in a lot of discussion), it seems to me that most writers (my opinion) lay out their view and their understanding of the issue and if there is a particular point of contention they may address it to show how their view is more logical. But to answer every nuance of a disagreement is impractical unless of course the scholarship is given to fully explain the basic premises of each position. If I am truly interested in a subject I will listen to more than just one voice. So if someone lays out their information and conclusions I am ok with that….it’s up to me to seek out complete information and I get the responsibility for what I believe. :grimacing:

Engaging in a way that communicates a listening ear though is critical.
Blessings :+1:


Hi Don,

Thanks for this. That’s encouraging. Those are some interesting points to spark curiosity about the gospels.

One other issue I had with Person of Interest, and I’ve told Jim this directly, is that I didn’t think it was accurate to say that he is “America’s foremost cold-case detective.” I believe it is essential that we be modest and scrupulously accurate about the credentials we claim for ourselves.

As for the scholarship related to the book, I think McLatchie’s footnotes come from hyperlinks to his detailed discussions of the points he raises. For instance, in his review of Person of Interest, he links to his deep dive on the authenticity of Daniel and the many footnotes to the scholarship.

It is appropriate to present our best case for the gospel and allow others to challenge it. At the same time, if we give those listening to us the impression that our case is airtight or without any counter-arguments, we may lose trust with them if they come to realize that some of our claims are vigorously contested.

In any case, I hope that in UP we can think through questions from many perspectives: supportive and critical, our own cultural contexts and many other cultural contexts, and insights from many disciplines.


I don’t think this means what you intended

1 Like

Hi Carson,

Given experiences with RZ I do understand sensitivities in this area. :disappointed:



:crazy_face: HaHa…correct, textual


I am not sure who said this, but the best evidence for Christianity is “sin.”


You’ll have to spell that out for me. How does sin provide evidence for Christianity? :face_with_monocle:


I was thinking in terms of Chesterton:
Original sin is the only doctrine that’s been empirically validated by 2,000 years of human history.

Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin-a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or not man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

The fact that we recognize evil and debate its origin, both pre and post religion, would suggest that there must be a remedy, a need to be “washed.”