All posts by Wintery Knight

How to talk to your co-workers about your faith

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Apologetics 315! Thanks for the link Brian!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from Free Canuckistan! Thanks for the linky, Binky!

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from The Happy Catholic! Thanks for the link, Julie!

Today, I’ll talk a little bit about how to go about raising your colors in the workplace. Before we start, here are some catch-up posts on why apologetics matters:

How to be yourself at work, without making other people angry

First of all, concentrate on working hard for the first 3 months after you start a job. Your ability to to raise your colors in the workplace is conditional on your ability to do your job well. For example, I decided to cut my career short a while back in order to go back to school and achieve some more goals, before returning to work:

  • get a Masters degree in computer science (3.9 GPA)
  • get computer science articles published in peer-reviewed journals
  • present research at professional conferences
  • apply for and be awarded patents

Secondly, never fight about work-related conflicts. Your job is not the means by which you will make your mark on the world. You make your mark solely by being an ambassador for Christ. Never sour a work relationship by arguing. State your reasons, and document your dissent. Christianity isn’t about you. Or climbing a corporate ladder.

Let me be clear: With respect to your Christian commitment, your pride, popularity and reputation are expendable.

Thirdly, take every opportunity to make yourself the servant of your co-workers, especially those who may not be as senior or technical as you. In every job I have had so far, I’ve tried to help clean things up, wash dirty coffee mugs and dishes, and keep a supply cough drops, and other healthy snacks, etc. Also, don’t get promoted to manager.

Fourth, after a few months, start to build your bookshelf at work. To start with, only stock debate books from academic presses, especially Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press. These kinds of books connect evidence to the claims of Christianity. It is much easier to discuss public, testable evidence with your co-workers than whether they are going to Hell or not .

Here are some examples of debate books I stock:

Leave these books out on your desk as you read them, with a bookmark to show you are reading them. If asked to explain them, take no position but explain both sides. Speak quietly and don’t interrupt. Stop talking after 2 minutes. Offer to continue the conversations off-site. Learn what your co-workers believe as they talk to you about your perfectly acceptable debate books.

As you read, note arguments and evidence used for and against your beliefs. When you eventually do get to the point where you are explaining your beliefs to people, you’ll need to link them up with evidence and defeat objections. Keep the discussion on public evidence, show you are operating at a research level, and you should be able to avoid blow-ups.

Fifth, expand your book collection with books from any academic press. Your goal is to show that these topics require study and can be debated rationally using evidence. Even if you only read popular level books to start, it is important to project to your co-workers how you approach faith just like any other discipline – by studying it.

If you get no flak from anyone, you can add more books on other issues, like the history, foreign policy, health care, education, philosophy of religion, astrobiology, global warming, economics and family/parenting. These books allow you to link your beliefs to other areas, so that turning the conversation to Christianity becomes easier.

The academic books are useful to convey that you have a serious approach to faith. But you probably will face much more ordinary objections. So, you should be reading mostly popular books to address them. That’s where books by people like Lee Strobel and Paul Copan are useful. After those two, you can move on to edited collections like “Passionate Conviction” or “Signs of Intelligence”.

An important rule is never to discuss the person’s personal life or morality. And never discuss Christian-ese hymns, prayer, church, feelings, emotions, intuitions, religious experiences, or your own life. Untestable faith claims scare people. Stick to the public, testable evidence. Debate whether DNA is designed, not whether they should stop shacking up.

Only talk to people who don’t offend easily and who don’t subscribe to politically correct ideologies. I avoid talking about spiritual things with people from groups that vote overwhelmingly democrat, such as single or divorced women. Eventually, the victim-mentality people will learn to behave in order to talk with you. Avoid breaking cover to anyone in your chain of command.

Sixth, you need to get comfortable with opposing views. In order to do that, you need to get used to being quiet and tolerant, and listening for extended periods of time, while ideas you oppose are forcefully presented. The goal is to be able to recognize your opponent’s arguments and argue for them better than they can themselves.

Start with these university debate transcripts: (print them out, leave them on your desk)

Your goal is to speak about Christianity the same way Craig does. Move on to audio and video debates in this list, only after you master reading debates. Debate your friends and family first for practice. I will write a separate post on what to buy to augment your resource collection with actual debates and lectures that you can lend out.

Another important point: your goal is not to win during the discussion. Try not to beat up your opponent. Instead, explore the issue from both sides using public, testable evidence. Let the person decide for themselves what they think, after the discussion is over. Here’s a great book on tactics that will help you.

An example of authentic Christianity in the public square

One last thing. You may be encouraged by listening to some lectures by Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here). Bradley is the best active proponent of public, authentic Christianity. He is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor. He has a huge pile of grants and research papers, and directed a research lab when he was at Texas A&M.

Here are a couple of different versions of the same lecture on integrating faith and vocation:

And here are a few other Bradley lectures I really like:

More Bradley lectures are here.

When all else failed, Republicans will try conservative ideas

Jennifer Rubin over at Pajamas Media writes that the GOP has had enough with the Democrats’ big-spending socialist agenda, and they are ready to try something completely different: small government conservatism. Instead of just being the party of “NO”, the GOP intends to market a series of common sense conservative policies directly to Americans.

Rubin writes:

Minority Leader John Boehner has a new video out listing a number of Republican themes and promising a Republican alternative budget from reformer Rep. Paul Ryan. The themes are simple: lower taxes, restrain the growth of government, a market-based health care plan, domestic energy development, and ending bailout mania. Boehner’s video does not have many details, but its core message is clear: Republicans are tired of being the punching bag for an administration that wishes to paint itself as the only source of ideas capable of solving the country’s problems.

But I didn’t like John Boehner’s video as much as this one from Rep. Paul Ryan:

He can make the case in the House of Representatives:

And look, he can take on the leftist news media, too:

Fun! Rubin continues with some links to wonderful policy ideas:

Truth be told, for months, Republicans inside and outside of government have been throwing out ideas on how to revive the economy.  Americans for Tax Reform has ten ideas to help small business. Newt Gingrich has twelve ideas to promote job growth and recovery. And budget draftsman Paul Ryan has had “A Road Map for America’s Future” for some time. But the mainstream media is uninterested in reading through all of this, much of the conservative blogosphere is too invested in carping about the shortcomings of elected leaders and in fighting among themselves, and the president, of course, has made a habit of disparaging his opposition’s lack of creative ideas.

the task here is to capture the public’s dissatisfaction with the Democrats’ bailout and pork-laden approach to governance and remind voters that Republicans in fact do have ideas — ones that favor lower taxes and less spending.

As soon as I read this, I rushed over to the Cato Institute to see their take on Ryan’s plan, and I found an article by Michael D. Tanner.

He likes Ryan’s plan:

Health Care: Ryan would reform our employment-based insurance system by replacing the current tax exclusion for employer-provided insurance with a refundable tax credit of $2,500 for individuals, and $5,000 for families. This would encourage employers to take the money they currently spend providing health insurance and give it directly to workers, who could then use it to purchase competitive, personally owned insurance plans. That would be insurance that met their needs, not those of their bosses, and people wouldn’t lose it if they lost their jobs.

Ryan would also allow workers to shop for insurance across state lines. That would mean residents of states like New Jersey and New York, where regulation has made insurance too expensive for many people, could buy their insurance in states where it cost less. And increased competition would help bring insurance costs down for all of us.

Since I am a clean-living, never-married single guy, this would basically add a bunch of money to my take home pay. More money for donations to Reasonable Faith and the Discovery Institute! So far so good!

Tanner continues:

Social Security: Like Medicare, Social Security is hurtling toward insolvency. Rep. Ryan would preserve the program unchanged for current recipients and workers older than age 55, but he would allow younger workers to invest part of their Social Security taxes privately through personal accounts. Unlike the present system, workers would own the funds in their accounts, and when they died, they could pass any remaining funds on to their heirs.

Taxes: Rep. Ryan would radically simplify today’s hopelessly complex, cumbersome and bureaucratic tax code. He would give filers a choice: They could pay their taxes under existing law, or they could choose a new simplified code, with just two tax rates (10 percent on the first $100,000 for joint filers; $50,000 for individuals, and 25 percent above that).

Human Events has some more details on the tax policy:

The tax reform aspect of the bill is appealing, offering a simplified tax system that has only two rates and eliminates the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and the death tax. The bill also abolishes taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends among other aggressive tactics that will make a noticeable, long term change.

And this interesting quotation from Ryan:

“Our fate is not inevitable…we can change it,” he said. “I want to be the Paul Revere of fiscal policy in this country.”

Now, that two-tier tax plan was one of the reasons why I preferred for Fred Thompson in the primaries… but the rest of my party wanted style, instead of substance. You blithering toadies! Who cares how warm his belly is? He opposes taxes and abortion, you hamster-brains! Oh, well. There’s always 2012, where we can try to run Mark Sanford, Bobby Jindal or maybe even Michele Bachmann!

For more on Ryan’s plan, here is an article in the Wall Street Journaltat he wrote. (H/T Western Standard Shotgun Blog)

Does Obama want to snuggle with theocratic Iranian mullahs?

The problem with progressives is that they never met an evil that they didn’t want to appease. Consider the fact that in Iran, you can be imprisoned for blogging. And do you know what happens in Iranian prisons? If you answered “you die”, give yourself a gold star! First, consider this story from Celestial Junk (H/T Free Canuckistan!) which links to this Beitbart article.


A young Iranian blogger jailed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died, his lawyer told AFP on Thursday.

…The blogger, aged around 25, was sentenced in February to 30 months in jail for insulting Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.

Sayafi was first arrested in April last year and released on bail after 41 days before being detained again this year.

Iran has launched a crackdown on bloggers and Internet users deemed to be hostile to the authorities and their Islamic values.

The Jerusalem Post notes that Freedom House is promising to launch an investigation.

“Omidreza Mirsayafi’s death illustrates the dangerously inhospitable environment in which bloggers operate in Iran,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. “Mirsayafi should never have been subjected in the first place to the cruel conditions found in Iran’s most notorious prison. At a time when President Obama is attempting to engage Iran, it is essential that the United States see Iran’s regime beginning to demonstrate a greater respect for human rights.

But here’s President Teleprompter reaching out to Iran:

Excerpt: (Stop the ACLU has the transcript)

My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.

Remember how progressives think: good is evil and evil is good. Everyone is morally equivalent. Just imagine, (they say), if everyone were the same then there would be no more wars! If we just appease the good Iran and unilaterally disarm the evil USA, then the world will be at peace.

George W. Bush knew the difference between good and evil, and was not afraid to act to defend liberty abroad. And 2 wars only cost us about 500 billion dollars. Meanwhile, Obama is going to spend several trillion dollars over the next few years driving us into a socialist depression. Bush spends a little money and liberty increases. Obama spends tons of money and liberty decreases.

Then again, maybe Obama isn’t as much of a naive dove as I think he is. His unilateral trade war with the entire world is going great! Look, John Lott is reporting progress in the trade war against Mexico. Yeehaw! Cowboy communism!

UPDATE: In my RSS reader, I spied this IBD podcast and here’s the transcript of it.

William Lane Craig vs Richard Carrier debate audio

Full audio of the debate at Northwest Missouri State University is here at Apologetics 315, (where else?).

Here’s a little blurb about the debate:

Two well-known American philosophers, Dr. Richard Carrier and Dr. William Lane Craig, will debate the question “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at Northwest’s Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Performing Arts Center).

The debate is being hosted by the Philosophy Club, a student organization that serves as the local chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, a national honor society whose mission is to promote academic excellence in philosophical study.

Admission to the debate is free, and the event is open to the public.

Carrier is a historian and author best known for his Internet writings on “The Secular Web,” which he edited for several years. A noted advocate of metaphysical naturalism, he has published articles on elements of naturalist and atheist philosophy and frequently writes and speaks in defense of naturalism as a world view. Carrier was featured in the documentary film, “The God Who Wasn’t There,” in which he questions the historicity of Jesus.

Craig, who maintains the “Reasonable Faith” Web site, is a theologian, New Testament historian and Christian apologist. He writes and lectures widely on issues related to the philosophy of religion, the historical Jesus, the coherence of the Christian world view and natural theology. The author of more than 30 books, Craig has served as a research professor of philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif., since 1994.

The debate will be moderated by Dr. Janice Brandon-Falcone, professor of history at Northwest, and should last about two hours. Each scholar will make a 20-minute opening statement to be followed 12-minute rebuttals, eight-minute counter-rebuttals and five-minute closing statements. Afterward, both speakers will take questions from the audience.

UPDATE: Richard Carrier’s reflections on the debate are here. I have to tell you, I was telling my one of non-Christian co-workers about this debate and I was really worried about what Carrier was going to do to Craig. My friends and I watched Carrier in the Carrier-Licona debate, and Carrier either won or tied. But this time, as Carrier admits, Craig got the better of him – due to sound preparation. As a sponsor of Bill Craig, and also of his web site, Reasonable Faith, let me just say: We dodged a bullet here. The audience was of typical size for Craig debate, at about 1000 people.

Does the Bible teach that faith is opposed to logic and evidence?

Probably the biggest misconception that I encounter when defending the faith is the mistaken notion of what faith is. Today we are going to get to the bottom of what the Bible says faith is, once and for all. This post will be useful to Christians and atheists, alike.

What is faith according to the Bible?

I am going to reference this article from apologist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason in my explanation.

Koukl cites three Biblical examples to support the idea that faith is not blind leap-of-faith wishing, but is based on evidence.

  1. Moses went out into the wilderness and he had that first encounter with the burning bush, and God gave him the directive to go back to Egypt and let his people go. Moses said, Yeah, right. What’s going to happen when they say, why should we believe you, Moses?God said, See that staff? Throw it down.Moses threw it down and it turned into a serpent.God said, See that serpent? Pick it up.And he picked it up and it turned back into a staff.

    God said, Now you take that and do that before the Jewish people and you do that before Pharaoh. And you do this number with the hail, and the frogs, and turning the Nile River into blood. You put the sun out. You do a bunch of other tricks to get their attention.

    And then comes this phrase: “So that they might know that there is a God in Israel.”

  2. [I]n Mark 2 you see Jesus preaching in a house, and you know the story where they take the roof off and let the paralytic down through the roof. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” And people get bugged because how can anyone forgive sins but God alone?Jesus understood what they were thinking and He said this: What’s harder to say, your sins are forgiven, or to rise, take up your pallet and go home?

    Now, I’ll tell you what would be harder for me to say : Arise, take up your pallet and go home. I can walk into any Bible study and say your sins are forgiven and nobody is going to know if I know what I am talking about or not. But if I lay hands on somebody in a wheelchair and I say, Take up your wheelchair and go home, and they sit there, I look pretty dumb because everyone knows nothing happened.

    But Jesus adds this. He says, “In order that you may know that the Son of Man has the power and authority to forgive sins, I say to you, arise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and he got out. Notice the phrase “In order that you may know”.  Same message, right?

  3. Move over to the Book of Acts. First sermon after Pentecost. Peter was up in front of this massive crowd. He was talking about the resurrection to which he was an eyewitness. He talked about fulfilled prophecy. He talked about the miraculous tongues and the miraculous manifestation of being able to speak in a language you don’t know. Do you think this is physical evidence to those people? I think so. Pretty powerful.Peter tells them, These men are not drunk as it seems, but rather this is a fulfillment of prophecy. David spoke of this. Jesus got out of the grave, and we saw him, and we proclaim this to you.

    Do you know how he ends his sermon? It’s really great. Acts 2:36. I’ve been a Christian 20 years and I didn’t see this until about a year ago. This is for all of those who think that if you can know it for sure, you can’t exercise faith in it. Here is what Peter said. Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” There it is again. “Know for certain.”

What is faith according to Bible-based theologians?

I am going to reference this article from theologian C. Michael Patton of Parchment and Pen in my explanation.

Patton explains that according to Reformation (conservative, Bible-based) theologians, faith has 3 parts:

  1. notitia – This is the basic informational foundation of our faith. It is best expressed by the word content. Faith, according to the Reformers must have content. You cannot have faith in nothing. There must be some referential propositional truth to which the faith points. The proposition “Christ rose from the grave,” for example, is a necessary information base that Christians must have.
  2. assensus – This is the assent or confidence that we have that the notitia is correct… This involves evidence which leads to the conviction of the truthfulness of the proposition… This involves intellectual assent and persuasion based upon critical thought… assensus… says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”
  3. fiducia – This is the “resting” in the information based upon a conviction of its truthfulness. Fiducia is best expressed by the English word “trust.”… Fiducia is the personal subjective act of the will to take the final step. It is important to note that while fiducia goes beyond or transcends the intellect, it is built upon its foundation.

So, Biblical faith is really trust. Trust(3) can only occur after intellectual assent(2), based on evidence and thought. Intellectual assent(2) can only occur after the propositional information(1) is known.

The church today accepts 1 and 3, but denies 2. I call this “fideism” or “blind faith”. Ironically, activist atheists, (the New Atheists), also believe that faith is blind. The postmodern “emergent church” denies 1 and 2. A person could accept 1 and 2 but deny 3 by not re-prioritizing their life based on what they know to be true.

How do beliefs form, according to Christian philosophers?

I am going to reference a portion of chapter 3 of J.P. Moreland’s “Love Your God With All Your Mind” (i.e. – LYGWYM).

J.P. Moreland explains how beliefs form and how you can change them.

  1. Today, people are inclined to think that the sincerity and fervency of one’s beliefs are more important than the content… Nothing could be further from the truth… As far as reality is concerned, what matters is not whether I like a belief or how sincere I am in believing it but whether or not the belief is true. I am responsible for what I believe and, I might add, for what I refuse to believe because the content of what I do or do not believe makes a tremendous difference to what I become and how I act.
  2. A belief’s strength is the degree to which you are convinced the belief is true. As you gain ,evidence and support for a belief, its strength grows for you… The more certain you are of a belief… the more you rely on it as a basis for action.

But the most important point of the article is that your beliefs are not under the control of your will.

…Scripture holds us responsible for our beliefs since it commands us to embrace certain beliefs and warns us of the consequences of accepting other beliefs. On the other hand, experience teaches us that we cannot choose or change our beliefs by direct effort.

For example, if someone offered you $10,000 to believe right now that a pink elephant was sitting next to you, you could not really choose to believe this… If I want to change my beliefs about something, I can embark on a course of study in which I choose to think regularly about certain things, read certain pieces of evidence and argument, and try to find problems with evidence raised against the belief in question.

…by choosing to undertake a course of study… I can put myself in a position to undergo a change in… my beliefs… And… my character and behavior… will be transformed by these belief changes.

The article goes on to make some very informative comments on the relationship between apologetics and belief.