Victor Reppert presents a challenge to everyone concerning the question of what constitutes evidence. He states it this way:
It goes like this. X is evidence for Y just in case Z.Presumably, he wants people to provide some substitution for Z such that it makes a reasonable definition of 'evidence'. Now this is a topic that he has written about before in his article Victor Reppert on the No Evidence Charge. His own answer is "X is evidence for Y just in case X is more likely to exist given Y than given not-Y." This may sound reasonable on its face, but it leads people down the wrong path before they ever have a chance to address the question of "What is evidence?"
I've answered the question here at various times, and people are dissatisfied with my answer. Fine. I want to know your XYZ answer. If you are going to tell me I don't have any evidence, then apparently you have a different answer to the XYZ question than I do. But when I ask people what their answer is, I never find out.
I addressed Victor's earlier article in my own post, called Evidence For Dummies, and obviously Victor has ignored what I had to say about it, if he ever saw it. In the comments to his current post, Cal has said pretty much the same thing as I did, and I'll wager Victor will ignore that, as well. Why? I can only speculate that by sticking to an unscientific approach to defining evidence, he can continue to justify his superstitious beliefs. With a more scientific approach to looking at evidence, the epistemic justification for belief in God and all things supernatural is greatly diminished.
To put it briefly, it is not really correct to say that there is evidence for something. It is more correct to say that evidence is what we can observe as a result of the real state of affairs, whatever that state of affairs might be. We might have various hypotheses about what that state of affairs is, but it is wrong to take a single observed fact and say that this is evidence for a specific hypothesis. The scientific approach is to gather all the available observed facts (or evidence) and produce a hypothesis that does the best job of explaining everything that is in evidence.
Let's examine Victor's approach more carefully. He says, for example, "the evident fact that there are thinking beings in our universe is evidence that God exists." Using his formulation of the definition of evidence, I might agree that the existence of thinking beings is more likely given the existence of God. but I can't agree that the existence of thinking beings constitutes evidence for God. Why not? Because by looking at all the evidence as a whole, I think it is most likely that thinking minds arose by natural evolution.
What if we postulated that there is a supernatural being (not God) who picks up water from the ocean in a big bucket and deposits it into the clouds to produce rain. Let's call this being the Waterlifter. We could use Victor's approach to defining evidence, and say that rain is evidence for the Waterlifter, because it may well be true that rain is more likely to exist if the Waterlifter exists than if he doesn't exist. But that's just plain stupid. We know why rain exists, and we know that there is no Waterlifter. There are plenty of other facts in evidence that give us a better picture of how water actually finds its way into the clouds. When we look at all the evidence as a whole, a more realistic picture emerges. The evidence does not tell us that there is a Waterlifter. In truth, rain is not evidence for a Waterlifter, even though it complies with Victor's definition of evidence.
The problem is that Victor is using a bad definition for evidence - one that allows him to justify all kinds of beliefs that are not supported by real evidence. To isolate a single fact and call it evidence for some particular belief does not help us to understand the actual state of affairs that results in the complete body of evidence we observe. We have to look at all of the evidence. Failure to do so is unscientific, and leads to conclusions that can be contradicted by other facts that have not been considered. This is the favored approach of religionists. Take isolated facts and call them "evidence" for beliefs that can't be justified when all that facts are taken into account.
As long as people like Victor continue to take an unscientific approach to looking at evidence, they will go on claiming they have evidence on their side. They are using parlor tricks - playing games with the facts - as a means of fooling themselves into believing that their beliefs are justified. But they're not fooling everyone.