Evidence is a fact or information that is used to support or prove an idea or claim.
Evidence does not speak for itself, but must be interpreted. For example, a judge or jury must decide whether a gun found at the scene of a crime (the evidence) supports the prosecutor's claim that the gun's owner was present, or whether the gun got there by other means.
Evidence must be able to distinguish between two competing claims. For example, similarity of living things (homology) does not necessarily support the theory of evolution over the creationary viewpoint because the same evidence is consistent with both ideas.
Contrary to atheists who try to separate faith and scientific evidence, faith itself is evidence as stated in Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is the foundation of our hopes, the evidence of the unseen."
Law of Evidence
In legal proceedings there are restrictions on what constitutes valid evidence. The primary objections to defective evidence are:
- hearsay (rules 801, 802, 803 and 804)
- form (confusing, leading, calls for speculation, etc.)
- lack of foundation
- the question is argumentative
- the statement assumes facts that are not in evidence
- the best evidence rule
- lack of personal knowledge
- improper impeachment
- too much of a narrative
- calls for opinion
- mischaractizes evidence
- public policy
- Rule 403 (a grabbag of other objections including irrelevant, asked before and already answered, too much prejudice, a waste of time, etc.).