During the follow-up questions & answers period after a presentation given by a Christian apologist or after a public debate between an atheist and a Christian, invariably a person from the audience will ask some version of the question: “Is there empirical evidence for the existence of God?”
In the 21st century, this has to be one of the most misinformed questions a person can have.
I place the blame for this at the feet of the scientific materialists of the second half of the 20th century and our current century, for the rigid atheism of their worldview that prevents them from considering and then disseminating a fuller and more open-minded view of the natural world.
This fuller view of the natural world would have educated the general public about the clear demarcation line in absolutely everything…not just science…separating the fixity of things that are physically material from the variability of abstract concepts that are non-material.
This distinction might be the most important first issue to address in the science and God, evolution and creation debate.
One classic example of this clear demarcation line is the empirically factual, neutral and unbiased explanation from science of how ink bonds to paper, contrasted with the entirely conceptual explanation of the opinion-loaded information that is advocated in the headlines of a daily newspaper or in the title of a magazine article.
I can read the front-page headlines and the accompanying article given below in the New York Times newspaper for example, and grasp the arguments being made and process the information on a sophisticated level to be able to form an opinion about the issues being raised, without having the slightest idea about the physics and the chemistry of how ink bonds to paper to create the printing of this newspaper article.
There is actually no way to get from the technical information of how ink bonds to paper to the altogether different type of information conveyed in the newspaper on world events, business, sports, or fashion.
The one type of factually specific information acquired through the scientific method of research on how ink bonds to paper, has no connection whatsoever to the type of information being conveyed in the newspaper that is concept-loaded, leading to the possibility of varied opinions and conclusions.
The physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper are entirely neutral and opinion-free on the subjects expressed in a newspaper or magazine article.
Ink bonding to paper has nothing to say about the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, punctuation, and grammar intelligently chosen using the English language to convey information in books, magazines, and newspapers.
The materially empirical and the non-materially conceptual are two things that are in unbridgeable categories of reality.
This concept can be extended to apply to absolutely everything that is physically material in the natural world, and to absolutely everything that is comprised of non-material, abstract ideas.
If something is physically material, without exception it is amenable to being dissected, analyzed, categorized, and described in terms of its physical components or behavior.
But there is no way to quantify in terms of a physical measurement whether my opinion about the issues in the newspaper article are right or wrong.
The scientific method of inquiry that produces empirical, fact-based evidence cannot breach the demarcation line into the judgmental zone of determining right from wrong between two or more opposing opinions.
Opinions, conclusions, and viewpoints are in the different category of non-material reality.
This discussion highlights and differentiates the singular empiricism of the scientific method of investigation that produces databases of factual evidence about phenomena in the natural world.
This is why I believe that because the universe came into physical being as material at the Big Bang, that given more time and ingenious investigative techniques, that scientists will in the future discover the mechanics of how the universe came into existence.
This is why I believe that no matter how complex is the material nanotechnology inside living cells, that given more time and evermore ingenious investigative techniques, that scientists will in the future discover all or nearly all of the physical mechanics of how genetics, DNA, and the cell produce the vast diversity of life on earth.
Empiricism Cannot Logically Opine on the Existence of God
One example of badly missing the big-picture as limited by an atheistic worldview, is to not recognize the implications in terms of directional trajectories and prior fitness that the Big Bang is an explosion. Explosions do not create intelligible order, but instead create chaotic disorder.
We only see order coming out of the Big Bang by looking backwards in hindsight from the current order we observe today in the natural world.
From our direction looking backwards in time it is easy to take for granted that of course order arose out of the Big Bang explosion 13.7-billion years ago, because today we observe order in the natural world.
But from the time of the Big Bang looking forward, to arrive at the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world today is asking too much of a random and undirected, purely materialistic process.
A massive explosion in a printing press factory will not generate a dictionary.
A tornado going through a junkyard will not assemble a 747 commercial jetliner.
In our normal experience, explosions do not produce things that are orderly to the point of being intelligible to human investigation through science, like our universe amazingly is.
The late scientist Stephen Hawking can brilliantly investigate the origin of the universe through quantum mechanics.
This is all well and good, and scientists will continue this investigation.
But the narrow focus of the atheism of scientific materialism precludes the fuller picture that would include the obvious question once we see it, of how a massive explosion at the beginning of the universe could over billions of years arrive at an end-point in this 21st century of cognitive, thinking human scientists exploring the physically material universe, exploiting with great success this orderliness and intelligibility, arising out of the chaotic disorder of a massive explosion.
Scientific materialism derisively dismisses intelligent agency as a plausible explanation behind the orderliness and intelligibility of the natural world, while putting forward the materialistically nonsensical view that this orderliness and intelligibility could arise out of an explosion through random and undirected processes.
Another clear example of atheism sweeping the obvious under the rug, once we see it, is the idea that extra-large stars are needed to implode through gravity to produce the required heat to make carbon and oxygen, just before exploding to spread these critical elements throughout the cosmos that are essential to enable complex life like ourselves to exist.
The chemical bonding properties of the carbon atom are critical to form the numerous compounds that enable living organisms to exist, yet again a massive explosion of giant stars is required to translate over billions of years this physically material reality into life on earth.
The Big Bang creation of the universe is dated to 13.7-billion years ago, and the first appearance of life on earth is dated to around 3.8-billion years ago.
Doing the math, this equates to a gap of time of nearly 10 billion years from the existence of the material universe to the beginning of life on earth.
What quality of foresight would be capable of spanning this period of time to connect-the-dots beginning with carbon and oxygen created within exploding supernova stars, to arrive at exquisite end-points of function in the ten-million different species living on earth today exhibiting unique architectural body-plans and lifestyle habits.
The common layman on the street would and does say as the majority opinion that this directionally targeted outcome of complex, specified, and coherently integrated living organisms could not come about through random and undirected processes commencing with giant, supernova stars exploding 13-billion years ago.
I did not take anatomy, physiology, or biology courses in high school or college, and could not pass today the first pop-quiz in the introductory classes in any of these subjects.
But I can easily recognize in this 21st century through the most general understanding of the various parts of my body, through a non-technical introspection of how precisely everything internally works, that I am vastly too complex to be the product of a mindless, blind, accidental, indifferent to outcomes, trial-and-error, and undirected process.
Ask most people the same thing, and given a moment of reflection would agree that we are too complex and too highly specified in terms of function to be the product of a solely matter and energy universe.
It is the element of atheism within scientific materialism that generates the uninformed question: “Is there empirical evidence for the existence of God?”
The correct answer is that of course there is no empirical evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible, because God is a non-material, Spirit-Being…but this is not the end of the story.
Provisional conclusions that are abstract concepts attached to scientific research programs can no more exclude divinely intelligent agency than they can support atheism as the only worldview acceptable to pure science.
The leap across the wide canyon from factually empirical data to the conceptualization and theorizing required to make sense of this data, is analogous to the unbridgeable gap between the physics and chemistry of how ink bonds to paper when compared to the opinion-loaded information advocated in the headlines of the New York Times daily newspaper.
During an interview in Socrates in the City, John Lennox makes the insightful comment that after Stephen Hawking states at the beginning of his book The Grand Design that philosophy is dead, Hawking spends the reminder of the book discussing what can only be called the philosophy of science.
What isn’t clearly being said here is that such a book cannot, by categorical definition, be anything other than philosophy.
Once Stephen Hawking or any other scientist shifts into the abstract informational zone of temporarily provisional theories and conclusions, in the writing of a book or an article in a scientific journal, or in writing a proposal for a research grant, this vehicle of communication has crossed over the demarcation line from the purely empirical nature of factual databases to breach into the opinionated realm of conceptually abstract idea-making.
When scientific materialists import abstract reasoning into the empirical realm of factual evidence and attempt to classify this conceptualization as being science as well, they are pleading a special case in favor of science that is not logically allowed anywhere else.
The unbridgeable dichotomy between the mechanics of literally everything in existence that is physically material, compared to the altogether different reality of conceptually abstract ideas in the non-material form of information, is not only operative in the science and God debate, but in everything imaginable in material and non-material reality.
This distinction between the material and the non-material is fundamental to understanding anything in the real world, and thereby exposes the nonsensical nature of the question of whether God is a physically material entity and thus amenable to empirical identification.
Finally, the part about reading a newspaper article and forming my own opinions and reactions to the issues posed, involves the element of free-will choice.
No one can force me to think a certain way regarding a specific issue or topic.
This flexible variability in the realm of personal opinions lifts all such abstract conceptualizing and theorizing out of the entirely different realm of the empiricism of studying physically material things in the natural world that produces not variable opinions, but instead fact-based evidences not open to speculative opinion.
This is why the worldview of atheism does not belong anywhere near the scientific method of research, God or no-God being inapplicable to the scientific research program as long as it stays on the empiricism side of the demarcation line separating the material from the non-material.
The argument between the theist and the atheist involves the variability of personal opinion, and thus falls outside of the empiricism of the scientific method.
This then correctly shifts the dispute into what is called an inference to the best explanation, which is entirely philosophical although based upon the same agreed-upon database of facts.
From Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.
 John Lennox: Socrates in the City in Labastide, France, Part 2, Jan. 23, 2018 on YouTube.