These days, I don’t engage in lengthy debate with aggressive atheists. Through years of experience, I have learned a LOT about how those conversations usually go and what a Christian apologist can reasonably expect the outcome to be. I can patiently dismantle the atheist’s argument, exposing the logical flaws and factual errors, and they will simply move on to heated emotionalism and statements such as “You’re wrong, and you just won’t admit it,” or “I broke free of those oppressive shackles long ago, and I pity you for still being stuck in that way of thinking,” or my personal favorite, “You’re just using Christianity to shield yourself from your fear of eventual non-existence.” (They think they sound uber-philosophical when they use that one.)
Even when conversing with reasonably well-educated atheists, it is extremely rare that they will man-up and admit, “Yes, I see where my argument was fallacious. Maybe I’d better re-examine this,” or “Oh, I wasn’t aware of that fact, can you reference that?” It happens occasionally, and when it does it is wonderful, but don’t hold your breath.
SIDE NOTE: I constantly wonder why they care enough to argue about the subject in the first place, let alone why some devote their ENTIRE CAREERS to it. Who spends their life campaigning for belief in the non-existence of something???? If atheism is true, what will it matter what anyone believed whenever our solar system becomes uninhabitable and the human race passes into dark oblivion, all minds erased forever?
Where was I? Oh.
What I’ve come to understand is that arguing (civilly and coherently) the case for theism, Christianity in particular, is participation in a debate that is unlike any other debate. What makes it wholly unique (aside from the spiritual warfare element) is that asking someone to open their minds and consider for even a moment that God may exist and Christianity’s claims may be true is asking them to make a wholesale about-face at the very root of their worldview. They cling to the naturalistic paradigm, because letting go of it would be the single most radical change possible, one with huge consequences for their lifestyle. What if there IS such thing as ultimate moral accountability? What if our words and behaviors on this earth DO have eternal ramifications? What if life is about a lot more than trying to maximize pleasure without infringing upon someone else’s? These are provocative questions, to say the least, especially whenever you’ve long held the belief that man is a cosmic accident and good morality only amounts to whatever produces the highest number of happy brains on the planet.
I am a Christian Apologist, so it goes without saying that I believe evidence and logic are incredibly important to effective evangelism, and they have been instrumental in building my own faith. But what I’ve learned is that I cannot gauge the effectiveness of my work on how many stubbornly closed minds I see crack open. Instead, I seek to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and put just the right annoying little pebble of truth in the atheist’s shoe. Hence the subtitle of my blog here.
At the end of the day, the best evidence I have for my belief in Christ is my personal relationship with him. He has made himself known to me over and over through various means, some overt and some involving that “still, small voice” that comes rarely but is at once unmistakable. I know what it feels like to have the Holy Spirit operating in my personal life and ministry and I know the beautiful freedom a life in Christ brings. These are things I can only testify of, not things I can prove through apologetics techniques. Significantly, they are things that did not happen to me until I truly submitted my life to Christ.
This is not to say that God hasn’t provided us all with excellent evidence that leads to him (Paul tells us that in Romans 1:20); but the most brilliant, incontrovertible evidences are those he blesses us with whenever we trust him.
Earlier this week, I saw a sign that said it well:
Man says, “Show me, and I’ll trust you.”
God says, “Trust me, and I’ll show you.”
Soli Deo Gloria!!!
Thank you, and good night.