So, this is just an advice post for doing apologetics.
Here are three situations I’ve run into while doing apologetics in the last month.
First situation. I was talking with a lady who is an atheist. I had a copy of “God’s Crime Scene” in my hand, and she asked me about it. I told her that it was a book written by the guy who solved the homicide case that I asked her to watch on Dateline. She remembered – it was the two-hour special on the woman who was killed with a garrotte. She pointed at the book and said “what’s in it?” I said, it has 8 pieces of evidence that fit better with a theistic worldview than with an atheistic one, and some of them scientific. Her reply to me was – literally – “which denomination do you want me to join?”
Second situation. I was talking with a friend of mine who teaches in a Catholic school. She was telling that she got the opportunity to talk to her students about God, and found out that some of them were not even theists, and many of them had questions. So she asked them for questions and got a list. The list included many hard cases, like “what about the Bible and slavery” and “why do Christians oppose gay marriage?” and so on.
Third situation. Talking to a grad student about God’s existence. I’m laying out my scientific arguments for her, holding up the peer-reviewed papers for each discovery. I get to the Doug Axe paper on protein folding probabilities, and she holds up her hand. One question: “Am I going to Hell?”
So think about those three situations. In each case, the opponent is trying to reject Christianity by jumping way, way ahead to the very end of the process. When you do Christian apologetics, you do not take the bait and jump to the end of the process dealing with nitty gritty details until you have made your case for the core of the Christian worldview using your strongest evidence. Let me explain.
So, your strongest evidence as a Christian are the scientific arguments, along with the moral argument. Those would include (for starters) the following:
- kalam cosmological argument
- cosmic fine-tuning
- galactic and stellar habitability
- origin of life / DNA
- molecular machines / irreducible complexity
- the moral argument
The problem I am seeing today is that atheists are rejecting discussions about evidence because they think that all we are interested in is getting them to become Christians. Well, yes. I want you to become a Christian. But I know perfectly well what that entails – it entails a change of life priorities. Both of the women I spoke to are living with their boyfriends, and the kids in the Catholic school just want to have fun. None of them wants to believe in a God who will require self-denial, self-control, and self-sacrifice. Nobody wants God to be in that leader position in their lives. Christianity is 100% reversed from today’s me-first, fun-seeking, thrill-seeking, fear-of-missing-out travel spirit of the age.
So, how to answer all these late-game questions? The answer is simple. You don’t answer any late-game questions until the person you are talking with accounts for the widely-accepted data in your list. These are things that have got to be accepted before any discussion about minor issues like one angel vs two angels at the empty tomb can occur. When we discuss all the basic issues where the evidence is the strongest, then we can go on to discuss issues where the evidence is debatable, then finally, in the last bits before the end, we can discuss these other kinds of questions.
How to explain why this process must be followed to the person who asks specific questions about minor issues? Simple. You explain that your goal is not to get them to become a Christian right now. That you want to let them believe anything thing they want. That’s right. They can believe anything they want to believe. As long as what they believe is consistent with the evidence. And what I am going to do is give them the evidence, and then they can believe whatever they want – so long as it’s consistent with the evidence.
So, for example, I’m going to tell them 3 pieces of evidence for a cosmic beginning of the universe: the expanding universe (redshift), the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the light element abundances. That’s mainstream science that shows that the universe came into being out of nothing, a finite time in the past. And I will charge them not to believe in any religion that assumes that the universe has always been here. For example, Mormonism is ruled out, they believe in eternally existing matter. See how that works? Hey, Ms. Atheist. You can believe anything you want. As long as what you believe is consistent with the evidence.
I think this approach of not letting them rush you to the end at the beginning is important for two reasons. First, we can get our foot in the door to talk about things that are interesting to everyone, in a non-stressed environment. Everyone can talk about evidence comfortably. Second, we show that we hold our beliefs because we are simply letting evidence set boundaries for us on what we are allowed to believe. We can’t believe not-Christianity, because not-Christianity is not consistent with the evidence. And you start with the most well-supported evidence, and eliminate worldviews that are falsified by the most well-supported evidence. Atheism actually gets falsified pretty quickly, because of the scientific evidence.
So, that’s my advice. Had a friend of mine named William try this out about a week ago. It went down like this:
William to me:
This guy I know messaged me and bragged for a while about how easy he can dismantle Christianity. He said: “present the gospel to me as you understand it. I’ll simply ask questions to demonstrate it is not worth your belief.”
WK to William:
First of all, he isn’t allowed to just sit there and poke holes in your case, he has to present a positive case for atheism. Second, don’t discuss Christianity with him at all until you first discuss the evidence for theism – start with the good scientific evidence.
And William wrote this to his friend:
The way I’m wired is that I process all competing theories and go with the best one. By doing a comparative analysis of worldviews I find that Christian theology easily explains the most about the world I find myself living in.
I’m pretty sure that a God of some sort exists because of the scientific evidence for the origin of the universe and the fine tuning in physics. From there I find it quite intuitive that if a God went through the trouble of creating and tuning a universe for life that this God likely has some sort of interest in it and has revealed Himself to humanity in some way.
From there I can look at the major world religions and compare them to see which one explains the past and the present the best. Christianity easily comes out on top.
And then a few days later, I got this from William:
I finally got the agnostic to tell me what he thinks about origin and fine tuning. When I started pointing out that his views were unscientific, he blew a gasket, called me dishonest and told me he didn’t want to discuss anything further.
And that’s where you want to be. Cut off all discussions where the challenger tries to jump to the end and get you to debate the very last steps of your case. Present the strongest evidence for your core claims, and get him to account for this evidence within his own worldview. Lead the discussion with public, testable evidence. All warfare depends on picking the terrain, weapons and tactics that allow you to match your strength against your opponent’s weakness.
8 thoughts on “The worst mistake you can make when defending the Christian worldview”
My Father-in-Law is a big “science is my god” kind of guy. I told him one day that his reliance on science is EVERY bit as much faith-based as my reliance on God. If not moreso. He challenged me to prove it.
I asked him if he was familiar with the First Law of Thermodynamics, which he recited roughly as, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only altered in form.” Correct.
“So. Based on the Primary (the First, the MOST important) law of ‘science’, nothing can be created from something that hasn’t already existed. Got it.”
Then I asked him if he believed in the “Big Bang.” Of course he did.
“Good!” I replied. “So, according to those two scientific ideas you hold dear, tell me…What went bang?”
“It just happened.” he said.
“Well, how does that work? If the universe didn’t exist, there was nothing to combust, so combustion is impossible – according to ‘science’. So, where did the stuff that went bang come from?”
“I don’t know.”
Me: “What you’ve just described to me is FAITH. Your entire belief system is based on a series of assumptions for which you have no evidence. Tell me how that’s not a ‘faith-based’ argument.”
“As opposed to Christians, who can point to the red shift, fine tuning, archeology, the fact that every culture on Earth has an innate desire to worship some form of deity, etc. AND, we have a Bible.”
That was 10 years ago. To this day, he has never raised the issue again. He’s still thinking about it. But he no longer makes snide remarks about how believers are fools who worship a magic sky puppet.
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This is the way!
WK – The sad thing is, I learned all that by myself. I got sick of sitting in church after church listening to this utter nonsense about “muh feelings…” and watching fake crying and weepy, soft shouldered men being led around by their woke wives.
I set out to explain to my male friends why I was a believer. What I realized is that feelings not only had nothing to do with my faith, but the reliance on feelings as the basis for belief was off-putting. Feels-based Christianity was and is driving men away from God. It’s turning the church into a hollow, woke-centric, man-hating, family destroying, spineless, meaningless, irritating, hectoring bureaucracy. Men HATE that. Men are not attracted to or persuaded by feelings, men are attracted to duty, honor, sacrifice, reason, logic and truth.
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The next three episodes of Knight & Rose Show are grouching at the church. We may lose some listeners who are happy with the church as it is, but you’ll love it. Have you checked out the new podcast?
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I’m an agnostic but not hardcore about whether there is prayer in school or a nativity scene on government property. Some aspects of Christianity don’t make any sense to me other than charity and altruism and integrity. But if you need a religion to tell you to do those things, you are already damaged goods.
As for the marriage thing, there is no reason for a Western man to marry. A two parent heterosexual family is best for the kids of course. However, the Christians can’t seem to decide if they mean marriage through the church as opposed to getting hung up on some government piece of paper that was originally created to prevent race mixing.
The Bible in the end was created and modified by man over the centuries, so we will never have a one true pure version that we know is absolute. Some of the stories like Noah and the flood have been found in previous incarnations and other cultures world wide. I don’t think it is totally useless since some things may refer to lost knowledge in some cases.
I’m not a big fan of ‘scientism’ but neither I do I like ‘churchianity.’ I think evolution is nonsense but do think environmental aspects can affect change in life forms. There are definitely ghost because I’ve experienced it. I’m not a big fan of Satanist having a voice in the public square.
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“I get to the Doug Axe paper on protein folding probabilities, and she holds up her hand. One question: “Am I going to Hell?”
My response would be, “that depends on whether or not you are a career criminal. If you haven’t committed any crimes in God’s eyes, there is no basis for condemning you. However, if you violated his laws, it makes sense to hold you accountable for how you have lived your life, just like how our legal system holds people accountable when they violate the law. But before we talk about that, do you want to be in heaven with God after you die?”
If her response is a genuine “yes,” I proceed with the gospel. If not, then don’t throw your pearls before swine.
I’ve come to believe long ago that if a person has a nasty chip on their shoulder, the evidence doesn’t matter, and I’m wasting my time.
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