All posts by Wintery Knight

https://winteryknight.com/

Should a husband take special measures to assure his wife of his fidelity to her?

Painting: "St. George and the Dragon", by Paolo Uccello (~1456)
Painting: “St. George and the Dragon”, by Paolo Uccello (~1456)

I wanted to re-post this story about Mike Pence and his rule about never being alone with another woman, because I have been thinking about the importance of Christian convictions in the process of relationships. Specifically, the importance of a man being a Christian, and understanding the world well enough to make a plan that achieves the results that he sets out to achieve.

Here is the story reported in The Stream:

It sounds like Vice President Mike Pence really loves his wife and really values his marriage.

Yesterday The Washington Post ran a sweet profile of second lady Karen Pence noting her meek, steady influence on her husband. Interviews with friends and colleagues revealed that Mrs. Pence is a prayer warrior. She’s also passionate about art therapy and works to help military families.

But Karen Pence’s quiet power was not what set off a million talking heads on Twitter. No, it was the matter-of-fact statement that Mike and Karen Pence abide by a version of the Billy Graham Rule. In a 2002 interview, then-congressman Pence said he doesn’t drink without his wife present, nor does he dine alone with other women.

This common-sense rule stands out in a town like DC, where many, many marriages have fallen apart because of affairs.

Indeed.

Regular readers of my blog know that I almost always take the side of men against young, unmarried women who have been influenced by feminism. But that doesn’t mean that I think that men who find a good woman and then commit to her in marriage should do as they please. Not only do I approve of what Pence is doing for his wife, but I consider his actions essential and required for any husband. At the very least, every Christian husband has to come to some sort of understanding with his wife about how he intends to protect her from infidelity. And he needs to be realistic about the role that alcohol plays, as well as peer-pressure and opportunity. In a place like Washington, D.C. it becomes even more of a necessity to have these discussions. Every husband who claims to be a follower of Jesus has a responsibility to be a provider, a protector and a leader on moral and spiritual issues. Part of that protector role is protecting his wife from infidelity. Since he is the leader, he needs to have a plan to make sure that neither husband nor wife is exposed to temptation beyond what either can resist.

But look at how people on the secular left responded to the Pence rule: they claimed that Pence was “sexist” and that he could never allow any woman to occupy a position of authority with this rule – even though he had a female lieutenant governor while keeping to this rule.

Newsbusters reports:

Some on the left went crazy, criticizing the VP’s respectful stance as old-fashioned, demeaning to women, or even sharia-esque.

“Pence’s rule doesn’t honor his wife,” MTV News Senior National Correspondent Jamil Smith tweeted. “It uses antiquated ideas about gender and public scorn to place new responsibility upon her shoulders.”

Slate contributor Heather Schwedel accused the politician of holding “a pretty radically retrograde mindset” that views women “primarily as sexual temptations.” Schwedel also quoted formerly evangelical journalist Elizabeth Spiers, who ridiculously wondered if “Pence could argue that he shouldn’t have to hire women on a religious freedom basis.”

Linking to Schwedel’s piece, TeenVogue writer Lily Herman revealed her complete misunderstanding of the VP’s practice. “Mike Pence basically doesn’t interact with women,” she tweeted.

Others made illogical attempts to prove Pence’s hypocrisy.

[…]“Sincere question. How is this different from extreme repressive interpretations of Islam (“Sharia Law!”) mocked by people like Mike Pence,” queried NYT contributor Xeni Jardin.

St. Louis Post columnist Aisha Sultan agreed, commenting: “He’s waaay more Muslim than Obama ever was.”

Mollie Z. reported on even more secular leftist screeching at The Federalist, and she commented:

Infidelity destroys intimacy, happiness, and marriages themselves. But it happens because of the strong temptation that exists every day for most healthy people. When marriages end, the associated costs are financial, emotional, and physical. Divorce tends to be hard on men, women, and children. It harms economic and health outcomes for children, and decreases women’s standard of living over the course of their lifetimes. Guarding against it is smart.

[…]If divorce rates weren’t sky-high and if infidelity weren’t a problem faced by millions of couples, mocking Pence for the means by which he keeps his marriage intact might make more sense. Heck, if the human condition weren’t such that we all find it difficult to do the right thing, the mockery also might make sense.

As it is, Pence’s smart tactics for avoiding the kind of marital failure that could destroy him, his wife, their family, and the lives of those around them is to be commended and celebrated.

I think I know what it is that is animating people to mock Pence’s thoughtful plan. It’s not mockery that is just coming from the secular left, either. The fundamental thing that Pence is doing is this: he is making a plan to achieve the result he wants, and then following through on the plan. The plan does not allow him to play fast and loose with boundaries. He has to exercise self-control well before he is faced with an impossible situation. He has to give up on some freedom and exercise self-control in order to draw a line well before he comes to the line that he cannot cross. In short, Pence has made a plan on his own that is not Biblical, but that will help him to achieve the goal that the Bible sets for him: do not commit adultery.

I think that there are people on the secular left AND on the religious right alike who don’t want to give up any freedom, nor make any plan. They just want to pursue pleasure and be driven by their feelings. They don’t want to say no to anything or have any self-control. This is a problem I see in secular leftists and low-grade feelings-based Christians, too. Naturally, secular leftists lack moral wisdom enough to exercise self-control, that’s a given. But what happens to people on the religious right is that they want to punt to the Bible, and piety and feelings to such an extent that they are destroyed by their own foolishness. Because the Bible only specifies goals, lazy Christians often lean too much on God, refusing to think that there is any wisdom elsewhere that could make the achievement of Biblical goals easier.

That’s why you see a lot of young Christians getting into trouble. If you have a goal to achieve for your Boss, you have to make a plan to achieve it. You can’t just follow your feelings and then blame everyone else when you fail. You can’t do what you feel like doing, refusing to exercise self-denial and self-control throughout a plan, then complain that you didn’t achieve the goal. No one does well on an exam if they don’t come to class, do the homework, and study for the exam.

What about results?

What about the approach of secular leftist women who attack Pence? What kind of men do they choose, and do these men produce results like Pence and Pence’s rule do?

This splendid article from The Stream explores the decisions of the radical feminists, noting that Democrat women pick men like Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton.

It concludes:

What feminists really claim to want from men is a milder version of Jenner: Someone who suppresses, beats down, and denies what it means to be a man. Who internalizes the guilt that feminism sprays men with like a firehose. And yet who (like Jenner) is somehow still attracted to women. A tame man, a damaged man, a man who is no threat at all.

At least that’s what feminists think they want. In fact, they’re probably secretly more attracted to Clinton. They’d be better off with Pence. What they’ll end up with is Weiner.

Who said that there’s no justice in the world?

What we are seeing today is a generation of people inside and outside the church who laugh at moral rules like chastity. Instead of choosing chaste partners and being intelligent about settle moral boundaries, they think that they can achieve the same outcome (lifelong married love) with their own made-up “morality”. When you look around at the great crises of our time: abortion, divorce, single motherhood, you can clearly see that each begins with a decision to take what makes me feel good and disregard moral rules. Naturally, the people who break the rules never imagine that they will not get the same lifelong, married love that the rule-followers get. But of course, it doesn’t work like that. What the rule-breakers really get is Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner. They fail the exam because they refused to prepare for it.

New study: white police officers not more likely to shoot black suspects

Murder rates in major U.S. cities - all run by Democrats
Murder rates in major U.S. cities – all run by Democrats

Whenever people disagree about controversial things, the best way to proceed is to look at what the evidence says. In this case, we’ve got a new PNAS study authored by professors at several different universities which concludes that white officers are not more likely to shoot black civilians than black or Hispanic police officers.

Heather McDonald writes about it in the centrist National Review:

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demolishes the Democratic narrative regarding race and police shootings, which holds that white officers are engaged in an epidemic of racially biased shootings of black men. It turns out that white officers are no more likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot black civilians. It is a racial group’s rate of violent crime that determines police shootings, not the race of the officer. The more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that members of that racial group will be shot by a police officer. In fact, if there is a bias in police shootings after crime rates are taken into account, it is against white civilians, the study found.

The authors, faculty at Michigan State University and the University of Maryland at College Park, created a database of 917 officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015 from more than 650 police departments. Fifty-five percent of the victims were white, 27 percent were black, and 19 percent were Hispanic. Between 90 and 95 percent of the civilians shot by officers in 2015 were attacking police or other citizens; 90 percent were armed with a weapon. So-called threat-misperception shootings, in which an officer shoots an unarmed civilian after mistaking a cellphone, say, for a gun, were rare.

This study builds on previous work, which also showed that white police officers were not more biased than other officers to shoot black civilians.

McDonald notes that progressive policy of hiring more minority police officers won’t reduce the rates of shootings of minority civilians, since all races fire their weapons at minority civilians at roughly the same rate.

The real problem with outrage at white police officers is that it doesn’t address the problem of black-on-black crime, which is a FAR greater threat to black victims of crime.

A recent editorial by George Mason University professor of economics Walter Williams explains:

Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Using the 94-percent figure means that 262,621 were murdered by other blacks.

Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it’s 22 times that of whites.

Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are most of the victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault and robbery.

[…]It’s a tragic commentary to be able to say that young black males have a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities.

And all those cities are run by Democrats. And they have been run by Democrats for decades. Democrat policies don’t work to solve the problem how making cities safer for blacks.

The real root cause behind crime is, of course, fatherlessness, as this interview about fatherless boys in the Daily Signal with Warren Farrell makes clear:

They’re far more likely to be the mass shooters. About 90% of the mass shooters that I studied since Columbine have been boys brought up in homes that have minimal or no father involvement or products of divorce or so on. And so that really shocked me to see that common denominator.

I then looked beyond that and went to ISIS recruits. There was a big study of ISIS recruits that found that the common denominator among ISIS recruits was dad deprivation, but not only among the boys, but also the female ISIS recruits as well, which, of course, are in much smaller numbers.

Then I started looking at prisoners and the prison population. We all know that 93% of the prisoners are male, but what very few people know is that about 90% of those 93% are dad-deprived boys.

Kay Cole James, the president of the Heritage Foundation (my favorite think tank), wrote about some of her ideas on how to solve the problem for Fox News.

She writes:

First, we must ensure that we’re encouraging families to stay together and that fathers and mothers raise their children together. Decades of studies have shown that children raised in single-parent homes are statistically more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, exhibit poor social behaviors, and commit violent crimes. They’re also more likely to drop out of school, which often leaves them struggling to find good-paying jobs as adults.

We could go a long way toward strengthening inner-city families by changing the system of government assistance that routinely weakens them.

A child of welfare, I can tell you that an overreliance on government assistance has deprived millions of children of the love and security they would have gotten from a family with two parents.

In the rest of the article, she explains how she was able to put that into practice, and what results she obtained by doing it.

Welfare “frees” women to try to start relationships with men who demonstrate no ability or willingness to commit. She doesn’t have to care about whether he is chaste, sober, drug-free, loyal, educated, a hard worker, etc. because the government is taking over the role of provider. The side effect of this is the high inner-city crime rates that we observe in cities that reward women for making fatherless children with men they never vetted for commitment ability.

What criteria do historians use to get to the minimal facts about the historical Jesus?

Policeman investigates crime scene for evidence
Policeman investigates crime scene for evidence

Have you ever heard Gary Habermas, Michael Licona or William Lane Craig defend the resurrection of Jesus in a debate by saying that the resurrection is the best explanation for the “minimal facts” about Jesus? The lists of minimal facts that they use are typically agreed to by their opponents during the debates. Minimal facts are the parts of the New Testament that meet a set of strict historical criteria. These are the facts that skeptical historians agree with, totally apart from any religious beliefs.

So what are the criteria that skeptical historians use to derive a list of minimal facts about Jesus?

Dr. Craig explains them in this article.

Excerpt:

The other way, more influential in contemporary New Testament scholarship, is to establish specific facts about Jesus without assuming the general reliability of the Gospels. The key here are the so-called “Criteria of Authenticity” which enable us to establish specific sayings or events in Jesus’ life as historical. Scholars involved in the quest of the historical Jesus have enunciated a number of these critieria for detecting historically authentic features of Jesus, such as dissimilarity to Christian teaching, multiple attestation, linguistic semitisms, traces of Palestinian milieu, retention of embarrassing material, coherence with other authentic material, and so forth.

It is somewhat misleading to call these “criteria,” for they aim at stating sufficient, not necessary, conditions of historicity. This is easy to see: suppose a saying is multiply attested and dissimilar but not embarrassing. If embarrassment were a necessary condition of authenticity, then the saying would have to be deemed inauthentic, which is wrong-headed, since its multiple attestation and dissimilarity are sufficient for authenticity. Of course, the criteria are defeasible, meaning that they are not infallible guides to authenticity. They might be better called “Indications of Authenticity” or “Signs of Credibility.”

In point of fact, what the criteria really amount to are statements about the effect of certain types of evidence upon the probability of various sayings or events in Jesus’ life. For some saying or event S and evidence of a certain type E, the criteria would state that, all things being equal, the probability of S given E is greater than the probability of S on our background knowledge alone. So, for example, all else being equal, the probability of some event or saying is greater given its multiple attestation than it would have been without it.

What are some of the factors that might serve the role of E in increasing the probability of some saying or event S? The following are some of the most important:

(1) Historical congruence: S fits in with known historical facts concerning the context in which S is said to have occurred.

(2) Independent, early attestation: S appears in multiple sources which are near to the time at which S is alleged to have occurred and which depend neither upon each other nor a common source.

(3) Embarrassment: S is awkward or counter-productive for the persons who serve as the source of information for S.

(4) Dissimilarity: S is unlike antecedent Jewish thought-forms and/or unlike subsequent Christian thought-forms.

(5) Semitisms: traces in the narrative of Aramaic or Hebrew linguistic forms.

(6) Coherence: S is consistent with already established facts about Jesus.

For a good discussion of these factors see Robert Stein, “The ‘Criteria’ for Authenticity,” in Gospel Perspectives I, ed. R. T. France and David Wenham (Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, 1980), pp. 225-63.

Notice that these “criteria” do not presuppose the general reliability of the Gospels. Rather they focus on a particular saying or event and give evidence for thinking that specific element of Jesus’ life to be historical, regardless of the general reliability of the document in which the particular saying or event is reported. These same “criteria” are thus applicable to reports of Jesus found in the apocryphal Gospels, or rabbinical writings, or even the Qur’an. Of course, if the Gospels can be shown to be generally reliable documents, so much the better! But the “criteria” do not depend on any such presupposition. They serve to help spot historical kernels even in the midst of historical chaff. Thus we need not concern ourselves with defending the Gospels’ every claim attributed to Jesus in the gospels; the question will be whether we can establish enough about Jesus to make faith in him reasonable.

And you can see Dr. Craig using these criteria to defend minimal facts in his debates. For example, in his debate with Ehrman, he alludes to the criteria when making his case for the empty tomb.

Here, he uses multiple attestation and the criteria of embarrassment:

Among the reasons which have led most scholars to this conclusion are the following:

1. The empty tomb is also multiply attested by independent, early sources.

Mark’s source didn’t end with the burial, but with the story of the empty tomb, which is tied to the burial story verbally and grammatically. Moreover, Matthew and John have independent sources about the empty tomb; it’s also mentioned in the sermons in the Acts of the Apostles (2.29; 13.36); and it’s implied by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church (I Cor. 15.4). Thus, we have again multiple, early, independent attestation of the fact of the empty tomb.

2. The tomb was discovered empty by women.

In patriarchal Jewish society the testimony of women was not highly regarded. In fact, the Jewish historian Josephus says that women weren’t even permitted to serve as witnesses in a Jewish court of law. Now in light of this fact, how remarkable it is that it is women who are the discoverers of Jesus’ empty tomb. Any later legendary account would certainly have made male disciples like Peter and John discover the empty tomb. The fact that it is women, rather than men, who are the discoverers of the empty tomb is best explained by the fact that they were the chief witnesses to the fact of the empty tomb, and the Gospel writers faithfully record what, for them, was an awkward and embarrassing fact.

There are actually a few more reasons for believing in the empty tomb that he doesn’t go into in the debate, but you can find them in his written work. For example, in his essay on Gerd Ludemann’s “vision” hypothesis. That essay covers the reasons for all four of his minimal facts.

So, if you are going to talk about the resurrection with a skeptic, you don’t want to invoke the Bible as some sort of inerrant/inspired Holy Book. You want to look at it as a historical book, and use historical criteria to get to some facts that critical historians would accept. From that, it’s possible to make a case for the resurrection, which is the guarantee that the words of Jesus are authoritative. Including the words of Jesus where he describes the Bible as a whole as God’s revelation of Himself to his creatures.

Here is the approach I use when talking to non-Christian co-workers:

  1. Explain the criteria that historians use to get their lists of minimal facts
  2. Explain your list of minimal facts
  3. Defend your list of minimal facts using the criteria
  4. Cite skeptics who admit to each of your minimal facts, to show that they are widely accepted
  5. List some parts of the Bible that don’t pass the criteria (e.g. – guard at the tomb, Matthew earthquake)
  6. Explain why those parts don’t pass the criteria, and explain that they are not part of your case
  7. Challenge your opponent to either deny some or all the facts, or propose a naturalistic alternative that explains the facts better than the resurrection
  8. Don’t let your opponent attack any of your minimal facts by attacking other parts of the Bible (e.g. – the number of angels being one or two, etc.)

And remember that there is no good case for the resurrection that does not make heavy use of the early creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. That passages is universally accepted as early, eyewitness testimony from Paul, and represents the core of early Christian beliefs about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Everyone who takes evidence seriously has to account for that early creed, which passes the historical tests I outlined above.

The best essay on the minimal facts criteria that I’ve read is the one by Robert H. Stein in “Contending with Christianity’s Critics“. It’s a good short essay that goes over all the historical criteria that are used to derive the short list of facts from which we infer the conclusion “God raised Jesus from the dead”. That whole book is really very, very good.

Even alpha male bad boys are disappointed by the Sexual Revolution

Marriage stability vs sexual partners,(Teachman et al. JAMF, August 2010)
Marriage stability vs sexual partners,(Teachman et al. JAMF, August 2010)

Thanks to radical feminism’s dominance in the culture, young unmarried women are very disinterested in marriage. Many of them see marriage as boring, and children as restrictive of their freedom. Instead, young women want to make sure to use their young and fertile years to pack in as much fun and thrills as they can. So what sort of men do they choose to pursue for that?

This article from the UK Daily Mail has the answer:

Women are often said to be the less shallow sex when it comes to what they find attractive.

But a study of an online gallery of ‘hot male commuters’ has found that the fairer sex are just as superficial as men – as they find muscles and money the sexiest male attributes.

The study based its findings on a website called Tube Crush, where women and gay men secretly take pictures of the capital’s attractive men on the London Underground.

[…]While the authors acknowledge that gay men also use the site, they say that female responses to the ‘hot commuters’ suggest females have not moved on in what they find attractive beyond ‘money and strength’ – despite their advancement in society.

Signs that the man is wealthy – such as a flashy watch or an expensive suit – were considered highly attractive by site users, as were powerful arm and chest muscles.

But the classic image of the ‘new man’ – a man holding a baby – or skinnier or nerdier types of man were far less represented.

Now, in my experience, men who are getting a lot of attention because of their looks are probably the least likely to be faithful, much less commit. If the man is putting in a lot of effort into his appearance (as opposed to his education, his career, his spiritual life, etc.), he’s probably doing it in order to get sexual access to a lot of women. He’s not looking to commit, in short. He’s looking to play the field. But it turns out that even the men who are successful at this are not happy with their success.

Consider this article from the UK Sun: (H/T Sarah)

It sounds like every young man’s idea of heaven: endless sex with a constant stream of gorgeous, up-for-it women who don’t even expect a pizza date before, or a conversation afterwards – and all via a tap on your smartphone.

Yet incredibly, a new generation of handsome, successful – and sexually prolific – Tinder-weary lads are claiming sex with hundreds of one-night stands is leaving them burned out, bored – and lonely.

Despite bedding a bevvie of beauties, they claim they’re desperate for lasting romance – and broody for children with a new wave of sexually-liberated young women who just don’t want to commit.

I got to know a group of these seemingly lucky men after I co-wrote the UK’s biggest ever academic study into more than 2,000 British men, released this week.

Called the Harry’s Masculinity Report, the survey was conducted by University College London and Harry’s, a new men’s grooming company that’s just launched in the UK.

Harry’s wanted to shatter the myths around masculinity, and discover what truly made modern men tick in 2017.

Here are some details:

One of these was Simone Ippolito, 25, from Bournemouth, a self-confessed Tinder “player” for two years.

The salesman and part-time model claimed: “When I first got Tinder two years ago, it was heaven. In three months I got 300 matches. They were coming so fast I couldn’t keep up.

“People on Tinder are only there for sex. I’ve been on 200 dates, and I get a result 99 per cent of the time.

“Getting sex is too easy. You get bored of it. Tinder takes all the pleasure out of flirting. It’s not fun anymore. Tinder is literally two glasses of wine then back home for sex. There is no emotion.

“It is boring, empty and lonely. You can’t have a nice conversation after mechanical sex. It’s just sex and go. Now I just want to stop it and settle down”.

Talking to other single men, it rapidly became clear that while dating apps like Tinder means it’s never been easier to get sex, it’s never been harder to fall in love.

This sentiment was echoed by Gary Barnett, 34, social media manager from Brighton, who’s been single for three months.

“For the first time ever in human history, sex is on tap,” he says.

“Nine times out of ten you don’t even have to go out on a date. If a girl likes your photos, they just come round.

“If you’re half attractive you’re bombarded with offers. You can go on Tinder dates every single night of the week.

“The social interaction is totally lacking. You can have sex and never talk again.

“They always ask the same three questions. ‘Hi how are you?’ ‘how’s your week been?’ or ‘I love your beard/tattoos’. That’s literally code for ‘do you want to f***?’

“That was really good for the first year. I filled my boots. After 50 Tinder dates, including 20 in the last two months with no sign of any ‘keepers,’ I’m over it. You get to the point where you can’t be bothered to do it anymore”.

Ah yes, the beard and tattoos. These are apparently very important for attracting women today. But it doesn’t work to attract a serious marriage-minded women to settle down with. Men are designed to want relationships with women. But not every woman is capable of having a relationship with a man. Especially after so many women have been taught by feminism not to prefer commitment-minded men who can perform the traditional male roles: protecting, providing and leading on moral and spiritual issues. Beards, muscles, shiny watches and tattoos might attract women, but it doesn’t make those women marriage-ready. In fact, the sort of women who are impressed with appearances are probably looking for fun. They are definitely NOT going to be comfortable with relationship obligations to a husband or children. To build a capacity for self-sacrificial commitment, you don’t practice having fun and thrills. You practice self-sacrificial commitment. You work on developing a worldview that makes self-sacrificial commitment rational, even when it goes against your self-interest. A worldview like Christianity, for example.

We already knew that women are unhappy with the dating scene today. And now we know that even the men who are “succeeding” are unhappy with it too, in the long term. The Sexual Revolution has messed up love and commitment for everyone.

The worst mistake you can make when defending the Christian worldview

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

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:

  1. kalam cosmological argument
  2. cosmic fine-tuning
  3. galactic and stellar habitability
  4. origin of life / DNA
  5. molecular machines / irreducible complexity
  6. 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.