Christians: Dialogue With Skeptics Part 2


Tips for Talking with a Skeptic “Prove Your God Exists!”

Last week, in Part 1 of this topic, we talked about the importance of our having a right attitude when interacting with skeptics.

I reminded you to let go of the “fight” mentality when challenged on your beliefs; to instead view these encounters as God-ordained opportunities to demonstrate the truth and love of Christ.

We also talked about the need to identify whether a skeptic is genuinely interested in having a productive conversation with us, or if their intent is to simply derail our faith. (There’s no point, in my mind, for entertaining the latter. Would you try to sell a car to a person who was committed to buying a bike?) 

Lastly, we talked about the important of asking questions, to help identify why the skeptic holds his views. Is their beef really with God…or humans?

Here, let’s identify some of the questions skeptics tend to ask, because we really need to have thoughtful answers ready when they posed to us. Then let’s observe two conversations between a Christian and a skeptic, to rate the Christian’s overall effectiveness. Role-playing is a great way to prepare for real conversations.


~ Common Objections You Should Learn to Answer ~

So what are some of the common objections raised by skeptics? Natasha Crain does a great job of identifying a good number of them in her blog post titled 65 Apologetics Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer.

A sample:

~What key arguments are there for (and against) God’s existence?

~Why would a good God allow evil to exist?

~How can a loving God send people to hell?

~How can Christians say Jesus is the “only” way?

~Am I good enough to go to heaven?

~Is Christianity a less intelligent worldview than atheism?

~What evidence exists outside the Bible that Jesus existed as a historical person?

~How were the books of the Bible selected?

~Does Science disprove God?

~Is Christianity “responsible” for millions of deaths throughout history?

~Why does Christianity say objective truth is the only “real” truth?

 

Another good place to research questions and answers is in the books and websites of today’s top Christian apologists. In this blog series we discuss Josh and Sean McDowell’s revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. But you also can learn from Ravi Zacharias, J. Warner Wallace, Frank Turek, Gary Habermas, and Natasha Crain.

As you research and become practiced with answering these questions, don’t make it your goal to “win” against skeptics. Rather, make it your goal to help them understand why your belief in Christ isn’t based on mindless “blind faith,” but substantial, historical evidence. Always strive to be kind, open, and gracious as you argue chat with skeptics.


~ Three Must-Dos To Prepare for Skeptics ~

>>> 1: Develop the habit of critical thinking. This goes way beyond knowing Bible stories and memorizing Bible verses.

We need to know why we believe what we believe. We need to be able to make connections between things Jesus taught and how they’re still applicable for our modern lives. We need to be able to explain why a particular scientific theory doesn’t hold up, and why it might not really be all that important whether He created the universe in six days or 6 million years. We need to know what archeologists have proven historically about the Bible.

>>> 2: Remember that not every claim or fact uttered by a skeptic is true, particularly when it comes to the historicity of the Bible, or a scientific “fact.” 

We have the right to be just as skeptical as the skeptic, and to ask for objective proof. A common argument used by skeptics is that Christianity “borrowed” its theology from other religions. But when we research that claim, we see that the facts show that it’s the other way around.

Too, it’s NOT on us to prove God’s existence, and here’s why: no skeptic or atheist has yet been able to disprove God’s existence. So when atheist Richard Dawkins writes, “If you want to believe in…unicorns, or tooth fairies, Thor or Yahweh, the onus is on you to say why you believe in it. The onus is not on the rest of us to say why we do not,” his argument doesn’t hold up.

And when we read books by atheists and skeptics, we have to expect bias. The content in Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion, for example, might sound convincing — until we also read books that dismantle his case against God. I love watching debates, because I get to see both sides of an argument. Here’s just one debate I found interesting: William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist?.

We have to learn to recognize whether the skeptic challenging us is coming with an open mind, or is simply seeking to waste our time. I am happy to talk about God with people who truly want to have an authentic conversation. But if a committed atheist wants to chat for her entertainment or agenda, I’ll pass.

>>> 3: Commit to having a humble attitude when dialoguing with skeptics.

Even if we’re mocked, even if we’re told we’re stupid, we get to choose how we respond. Christ left His ego behind, and asks us to do the same. Witnessing isn’t about winning. It’s about showcasing Christ. Truly, if we’re not evidencing the nature of Christ in our lives, what’s the point of even trying to share out faith with people?


~ Role-Playing to Practice ~

Let’s look at two sample conversations between a skeptic and a Christian, to see how the Christian does at being respectful, and having knowledgeable answers.

Conversation 1:

SKEPTIC: “How can you Christians believe the Bible to be true? All you have to go on is faith.”
CHRISTIAN: “Faith is a good thing.”
SKEPTIC: “Have faith in Science, then! It’s real, unlike your Bible.”
CHRISTIAN: “The Bible is God’s Word. It’s totally real.”
SKEPTIC: “The Bible was written by 40 people, over 1,000 years. No way is it a sacred text!”
CHRISTIAN: “You made that up.”
SKEPTIC: “Have you even read the Bible?”
CHRISTIAN: “Of course!”
SKEPTIC: “All of it?”
CHRISTIAN: “I’ve read the most important part: John’s Gospel, where Jesus beats death and rises!”
SKEPTIC: “Resurrection. Now there’s a fairytale for you.”
CHRISTIAN: “You clearly lack the faith needed to be a Christian.”
SKEPTIC: “I don’t need faith to believe in a fairytale. Unless you have proof that God exists?”
CHRISTIAN: “The proof will be your burning in Hell!”

How do you rate the Christian? Give 1 star for low, 5 stars for high.

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Conversation 2:

SKEPTIC: “How can you Christians believe the Bible to be true? All you have to go on is faith.”
CHRISTIAN: “Faith is a good thing.”
SKEPTIC: “Have faith in Science, dude. It’s real, unlike your Bible.”
CHRISTIAN: “Why don’t you think the Bible is real?”
SKEPTIC: “Because Science has proven the Big Bang Theory. Your Bible says God made the world.”
CHRISTIAN: “Who’s to say He isn’t the bang behind that possible Big Bang?”
SKEPTIC: “Are you that clueless? The universe isn’t due to some mythical, supernatural creator!”
CHRISTIAN: “Well, would you agree that Science has no clue, or proof, as to what started the universe?”
SKEPTIC: “It certainly wasn’t the God of your made-up Bible.”
CHRISTIAN: “There’s actually a lot of historical evidence that authenticates the Bible.”
SKEPTIC: “The Bible was written by, like, 40 people, over 1000+ years. No way is it authentic!”
CHRISTIAN: “You’re right about those numbers. But can I show you some of that historical evidence?”
SKEPTIC: “Only if you buy me a coffee. I’m going to need major caffeine to endure that torture.”
CHRISTIAN: “Coffee it is! I even promise to keep the torture session to a half-hour!”

How do you rate the Christian? Give 1 star for low, 5 stars for high.

—————————————————————————

My scores:
Conversation 1. I give the Christian one gold star, for being minimally effective. The Christian clearly isn’t familiar with the Bible, is condescending, and pronounces judgement on the skeptic. Yowza! How does that help to keep that skeptic open to further conversations?

Conversation 2. I give the Christian five gold stars, for being very effective. The Christian appears to be informed, respectful, and sincerely interested in having a pleasant conversation.


~ But I Don’t Wanna Talk to Skeptics! ~

Trust me, I get it. Too many days it feels like my brain is a sieve, and I worry that I won’t be able to utter any reasonable replies about my Christian faith!

I have found it helpful to create a little apologetics notebook that I can refer to as an ongoing refresher. I’ve also found it helpful to create a computer document of links, that I can go back and peruse or print out. You’ll have to figure out your own system for having ready access to info. Having that resource in place will give you a lot more confidence. But it should also help you to relax so you enjoy telling people about Jesus.

God doesn’t ask us to be perfect in our defense of Him — but He does expect us to know what we believe and be ready to share it. It’s an honor to be used for His purposes. 

 

Evidence book cover Apologists

This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowell’s recently revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this fully updated and expanded resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because it’s true. But share this truth with LOVE!

If you’d like to start from the first blog post in this series, click here: Apologetics: Apologizing for Believing in God?.

 

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