Over the years, I've often been challenged with questions like, "I've been trying to witness to my friends. They say they don't believe the Bible and aren't interested in the stuff in it. They want real proof that there's a God who created, and then they'll listen to my claims about Christianity. What proof can I give them without mentioning the Bible so they'll start to listen to me?"
Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence in the scientific debate—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars. The facts are all the same.
The difference is in the way we interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. These are things we assume to be true without being able to prove them. Presuppositions become the basis for other conclusions. All reasoning is based on presuppositions (also called axioms). This becomes especially relevant when dealing with past events.
Past and Present
We all exist in the present, and so do the facts. When we try to understand how the evidence came about ("Where did the animals come from? How did the fossil layers form?"), what we're actually trying to do is connect the past to the present.
However, if we weren't there to observe the past, how can we know what happened to explain the present? It would be great to have a time machine so we could know for sure!
Christians, of course, claim that they do in a sense have a "time machine." They have a book called the Bible which claims to be the Word of the God who has always been there, and He has revealed to us the major past events about which we need to know.
On the basis of these revealed events, such as Creation, the Fall, and the Flood, we form a set of presuppositions so we can think about and interpret the evidence of the present.
Naturalistic evolutionists also have certain beliefs they presuppose. They presuppose there is no God (or at least none who performed acts of special creation), so they build a different way of thinking to interpret the evidence of the present.
Thus, when Creationists and Evolutionists argue about the evidence, in reality they are arguing about interpretations based on their presuppositions.
That's why the argument often turns into two people insisting that their interpretation is so obviously right, while the other can't seem to see it. They're arguing about the same evidence, but they are looking at the evidence through different glasses.
It's not until they recognize that the argument is really about their presuppositions that they will begin to deal with the foundational reasons for their different beliefs. A person will not interpret the evidence differently until he puts on a different set of glasses—a different set of presuppositions.
In my experience, Christians who understand these things can actually put on the evolutionists' glasses (without accepting their presuppositions as true) and understand how they look at evidence. However, for a number of reasons, including spiritual ones, a non-Christian usually can't put on the Christian's glasses—unless they are beginning to question their own presuppositions.
Sometimes, just by presenting evidence, you can convince someone that a particular scientific argument for creation makes sense "based on the facts." But if that person hears a different interpretation of the same facts, he may swing away from your argument. If you help him to understand presuppositions, he will be better able to recognize different interpretations based on differing presuppositions for what they are.
As a teacher, I found that whenever I taught students what I thought were the facts for creation, another teacher would just reinterpret the facts. The students would come back to me saying, "Well, sir, you need to try again."