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Gathering Evidence


Three General Kinds of Evidence


  • Introduction
    • There are three general kinds of evidence that people use to determine the truth.
      • Oral evidence
      • Written evidence such as a letter, a piece of potter with writing or a picture.
      • Other kinds of evidence such as a gun, a finger-print, blood, the presence or absence of body, a photograph, a chariot wheel, the walls of a city, a grave, a buried city, and similar evidences that one may produce.
    • With the Bible we are primarily concerned with written evidence and archaeological evidence. We have no oral witnesses, since the events and writing occurred centuries ago.
    • There are also two primary methods for gathering and examining evidence:
      • The scientific method.
      • The legal-historical method.
    • With the Bible, as with most of what the world accepts as true, the legal-historical method is the method of choice. Most of the biblical events cannot be reproduced because of the distance in time, lack of technology and recording, and the miraculous nature of the events. Furthermore, mankind was not present when God created the heavens and the earth.
  • The Scientific Method
    • The job of science is to find facts, make a theory about what the facts mean, and then through repeated testing of the theory reach an accurate interpretation of the facts. The same conclusion must be reached each time the experiment is conducted. This line of proof is the one most people think they depend upon. It is very limited. The scientific method is based upon repeating the event in the presence of the person questioning.
    • In the scientific method you observe, collect data, make an hypothesis, and test and demonstrate the hypothesis by experiment.
    • The successful application of the scientific method should result in the same results each time the same experiment is run.
    • The steps in the scientific method:
      • One observes something and the observation brings up a question or problem.
      • State the problem and gather facts that bear on the problem.
      • Form an hypothesis or an estimate that might explain the problem. This hypothesis must fit the data and be stated in a form that can be tested. Continue to gather data that might explain the problem.
      • Experiment to test the hypothesis. Here you observe, measure, predict, and experiment again.
      • Organize and record the data and the results of the observation, hypothesis, and experimentation.
      • Draw conclusions. Very often the conclusion are based upon philosophical or ideological beliefs, not upon the scientific method. In science, though it claims to be objective, the scientists often guide themselves by their agenda.
      • Verify the conclusion or truthfulness of the hypothesis by repeated experimentation. If the hypothesis and conclusions are correct, the experiment ought to give the same results each time.
      • Summary:
        • Observe
        • Question
        • Gather facts
        • Hypothesize
        • Gather facts
        • Experiment
        • Organize and Record
        • Conclusions
        • Verify conclusions by repeating the experiment
  • The Legal-Historical Method
    • The legal-historical method demands that one show beyond a reasonable doubt that something is true based upon the evidence. Much of what we believe to be true is based upon this type of proof.
    • This method is used to prove if George Washington lived; was Robert Lee the commander of the Army of Virginia; who won the first Super Bowl; did Jesus live; do you have a job; and for the demonstration of most knowledge of people, places, and events.
    • As with the scientific method, the legal-historical method requires a certain procedure.
      • You observe, collect, and question evidence.
      • There are three types of evidence that are admitted: oral, written, and exhibits (a gun, a bullet, a notebook, a jar, a manuscript, a drawing).
      • This method depends upon the reliability of the evidence. For example, to prove that you were in church: people saw you; you have the notes and bulletin; or the pastor remembers seeing you.

Last Update

Thursday, January 1, 2004