Proof and Persuasion Confusion

I was pointed to a post by J. Warner Wallace where he seeks to give a distinction between evidence and proof. This is in itself something good to do because who has not heard people scream “SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE!” as though if they are shown enough evidence that it is proof [of something].

The following statement seems to provide the basis of Wallace’s apparent confusion between proof and persuasion. Wallace writes the following:

While evidence is a matter of objective truth, proof is in the mind of the evaluator, and many of us resist the truth in spite of the evidence.

Wallace admits there is objective evidence to be used but takes proof to the rim of objectivity and throws it into the chasm of subjectivity. Wallace has apparently confused proof with persuasion and this is evidenced further into the article when he gives a definition of proof:

Proof
What God does in the heart of the listener with the evidence we offer

Wallace is correct in the paragraph before this to state that an apologist will never convince an unbeliever of the truth if God does not do His work of regeneration. However, in stating such and using the definition Wallace gives for proof, he has partially defined persuasion not proof. Proof in the realm of apologetics is an argument demonstrating the truth of a matter. It is not a matter of subjective determination. Persuasion on the other hand may be subjective. In fact, people often deceive themselves into thinking an argument is valid or invalid depending on matters entirely outside of evidence given because they interpret the evidence (and the argument) through the lens of preconceived ideas about what is and is not reality and how something is determined to be part of reality (metaphysics), about what is and is not knowable and how it is known (epistemology), and about what is and is not the right thing to do and how it is determined (ethics). What one believes about these three areas will directly affect interpretation of any evidence one is given as well as the arguments using that evidence. This is one of the reasons evidentialism fails; it assumes that the decisions made in those three areas are the same for everyone and/or it naively assumes they do not matter in the discourse of argument.

Now concerning Wallace’s foil and Wallace’s claim that one cannot prove the NT is reliable please, compare Wallace’s statement with the debate between Dr. Ehrman and Dr. James White. Enjoy.

Dr. James White vs Dr. Bart Erhman – http://store.aomin.org/did-the-bible-misquote-jesus.html


3 Comments

Matthias McMahon

Man, it almost seems like…he gets them both completely backwards, as we would understand them.

Another Helping of Van Tillian Apologetics Links for Feb 2013 | The Domain for Truth

[…] Proof and Presuasion– A Presuppositionalist’s look at Cold Case apologist J. Warner Wallace’s […]

Dan Sherman

The post articulates something I’ve been thinking for awhile. I find that this is how social sciences in general work. When I read an article about social commentary or some academic paper it is apparent that, more often than not, the writer has a preconceived world view, gathers data via surveys or (ofen flawed) experiments and applies some statistics. Lo and behold, the statistics always prove the writers prejudices and world view.

I understand that I have my own predjudices and world view but I don’t pretend that they reflect, in any way, shape, or form, objective reality.


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