There is a chorus of people who claim to have found joy, tranquility and a host of other benefits—attributing their life change to a variety of sources or activities. Are any of these claims valid? How can we know? It is true that our experiences are considered anecdotal or “soft” evidence. Is it so subjective that it doesn’t prove anything? Consider the following illustration from Josh McDowell, as discussed in Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino: Here’s Life, 1979), pp. 327-328:
For example, let’s say a student comes into the room and says, “Guys, I have a stewed tomato in my right tennis shoe. This tomato has changed my life. It has given me a peace and love and joy that I never experienced before.” …It is hard to argue with a student like that if his life backs up what he says… A personal testimony is often a subjective argument for the reality of something… There are two questions or tests I apply to a subjective experience. First, what is the objective reality for the subjective experience, and second, how many other people have had the same subjective experience from being related to the objective reality?
When asked how he accounts for his life change, the student would answer, “A stewed tomato in my right tennis shoe.” To find even one other person in the entire world who has had a similar life change as a result of a stewed tomato in their right tennis shoe is improbable. The objective reality is more than a little suspect when it cannot be verified repeatedly in the lives of others.
On the other hand, when a Christian is asked for the objective reality that has resulted in a significant subjective life change, he/she would answer, “The person of Christ and His resurrection.” How many others share this same result from a relationship with Jesus Christ? The evidence is overwhelming. There are millions of people from every nationality and profession who have experienced this kind of positive life change. As William Wilson, a former dean of clinical neurophysiology exclaims (Decision magazine, October 1977):
Doing research in Christian experiences, I was impressed with what conversion achieved. In fact, I was astounded. Drunkards were turned into sober people; heroin addicts into nonusers; depressed people into well-regulated people; angry people into gentle, kind people; fearful people into brave people; self-centered, prideful people into humble, loving people.
Such broad confirmation greatly increases the validity of the life-changing claim of faith in Jesus.