Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The Pugnacious Irishman invites Christians to defend their faith

His post is boldly entitled “Walking Around with our Pants Around our Ankles”.

A little bit about Rich: his background is in teaching and his most recent post was in a school in a very rough part of Los Angeles.

Rich makes an important point about the need to find people who disagree with you and engage them. You won’t find them in your house or in your church. You’ve got to go to the workplace or the university campus and start making friends with them to find out what they believe and whether they are open to new ideas!

Rich reacts to my post from yesterday here:

…Another thing is that when people are caught in an environment where they have to defend God’s honor, they suddenly become starved for the kind of training Wintery advocates.  If you regularly find yourself amidst a bunch of atheists, agnostics, and Muslims who are constantly challenging you on the reasonableness of your faith, chances are, you’ll start searching for answers pretty quickly.  Hey, it happened to me. In other words, if your pants fall down, buying a belt suddenly moves up a few notches on your priority list.

The kicker is that many people never experience that felt need; they are sequestered in an environment of comfort.  A decent number go to great lengths to maintain this bubble, avoiding being exposed.  They are walking around in closeted quarters, with the shutters drawn and drapes pulled down, oblivious to the fact that their trousers are hanging around their ankles.

Many people assume apologetics is all about merely “winning an argument,” but nothing could be further from the truth.  WK puts it in the proper perspective: it’s about defending God’s honor in public.  If someone were clowning on your spouse at work, wouldn’t you want to stand up and say something?

That’s the first key point about apologetics: protecting God’s reputation as a way of participating in a friendship with God. He’s also got some book recommendations in his post for beginnners and I could not agree more. I own every stinking one of them!

And he’s got an update here, where he makes the second key point about apologetics.

Excerpt:

Addition to today’s post:  I don’t think I underscored enough another motivation of apologetics–love.

Why defend the faith?  Because we love our neighbors.

This is a good point for Christians who value love. Apologetics is love. It’s one way that you can love your neighbor. God expects us all to spend some time responding to his overtures to us in nature, in conscience, and in history. It does no good to help atheists to ignore God’s calling by keeping silent about God’s will for that person.

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9 Responses

  1. Rich Bordner says:

    Thanks for the link luv!

  2. Steven Carr says:

    There is always the Richard Dawkins forum if people want to defend their faith that somebody came down from heaven and told his friends how to find money by looking in the mouth of a fish.

  3. Jules says:

    I’ve done the whole forum thing and what I’ve found is what Wintery Knight said. People on forums don’t go there to debate/discuss. They go there to ‘prove’ how ‘smart’ they are with their superfluous words and their lengthy but empty arguments. Most of the time, what I’ve encountered are people who stubbornly refuse to listen by dishing out their own arguments. In the end, the forum is just like a soup with all sorts of ingredients that are inedible. So I feel like sometimes being in forums are a waste of time seeing as how people sometimes respond to you by using very colourful four-letter-word language.

    • I do not recommend forums. I don’t know why people insist on going online and fighting with anonymous people. I am not even optimistic about changing people’s minds with my blog. I think the best thing to do is to spend money, time and effort on people you meet at work or at school. That way, you will hardly get any swearing, etc. I think formal academic debates are pretty good as well, because there are timed speeches and no vulgar remarks. Except Hitchens, but he doesn’t win his debates either.

  4. Jules says:

    Yup I agree with you. I think that God places us in locations with opportunities to evangelize the people we are around and socialize with everyday. I used to get so worked up by what people say online but now I just try to talk to the people around me more. Oh and the vulgarities won’t really happen in a face-to-face discussion either. ;)

    • I have never had someone swear at me in 10 years of doing this in full-time work. There is a warm-up period where you may get some flak as you learn who can and can’t talk to, and how to read people’s tone, facial expressions and emotions. It takes a while to learn the rules!

      The key factor is to make sure that you are discussing publicly available evidence at all times. NEVER discuss feelings or emotions or the person’s personal life. Emphasize that the debate will be about external evidence. I never bring up the Bible unless I introduce the historical critical methods first, to show people which verses can be used and which must be taken on trust. (I am an inerrantist evangelical – but I know that you cannot use every verse in a debate for historical reasons!)

      My favoite conversations to have in the office are these 5: (I started with 3 but my list grew)

      1) Review the 6 scientific discoveries that lead up to the big bang theory and explain why this theory, which is the most accepted theory of origins today, is literally the death blow to atheism. The best book on this is “God and the Astronomers” by Robert Jastrow, Ph.D. How the heck are you supposed to explain the origin of all matter, energy, as well as space and time, out of nothing, without appealing to a supernatural Creator? Jastrow is NOT a Christian by the way, he’s an agnostic.

      2) Review some of the cosmological constants that are just “given” in the big bang that have to be chosen so carefully that if you alter them even slightly life would become impossible. You have to explain what happens if you change things like the strong force or weak force constant. Terrible things happen – you lose long-lived stars or you lose liquid water or worse: the only universe re-collapses into a hot fireball! And the best part is you can read atheist books to show this, like Martin Rees’ “Just Six Numbers”. It’s fun! Well, about as fun as apologetics can be, given that it’s so scary and dangerous.

      3) Review the way that biological information is formed in the origin of life, by sequencing amino acids and nucleotide bases. Then show someone some computer code or some English sentences. It’s the same thing as proteins and DNA. (This is a good argument to learn for young-earth people!) The best part is if you know math, you can run the probabilities. I was so dumb in high school that I dropped my probabilities class after I failed my first test. Later on, in my junior year of college, I was required to take a probabilities class. By this time, I knew about the fine-tuning and biological information arguments, so I attacked the course like a wolf and got an A! Apologetics is wonderful for making you want to learn, because if you don’t learn you lose the debate. I like to draw the calculations on a white board at work so everyone can see. Engineers love math!

      4) The Cambrian explosion is a great argument because you can use pictures of Darwin’s tree of life, and then draw a gradual slope on a piece of paper to represent how species emerge on his theory. Then draw another paper and show the fossil record which is basically flat as a surfboard from 4 billion years ago to 543 million years ago, then POOF! All the phyla we see today emerge in about 3-5 million years! Totally impossible on Darwian evolution – but easy for God who likes to write code.

      5) I used to dislike talking about the resurrection until I learned the minimal facts approach of Gary Habermas. This is the most wonderful thing in the world for Christians, because we all need to be comfortable talking about the resurrection using evidence, as in Acts 2. “So they may know for certain”. William Lane Craig also has a fine minimal facts case. I have seen him beat the stuffing out of Bart Ehrman, Gerd Ludemann, John Dominic Crossan, Robert Price, Marcus Borg, John Shelby Spong and everyone else who would debate him with this argument! You must learn it!

      This is not to even talk about defending against common objections, like the problem of evil. All of my current friends can defeat that argument with their brain in a jar on the desk, asleep. (Our new favorite argument to defend against is the hiddeness of God) You can also learn about middle knowledge, which is great for answering “what about those who never heard of Jesus?” and also “How can you reconcile free will and divine sovereignty?” I went to an academic philosophy conference on this at Wheaton College when I worked in Chicago and everybody who wasn’t a Calvinist loves this middle knowledge stuff. It’s new. Philosophy of religion is awesome. You can really help people to make sense out of some of these serious issues they struggle with.

      If you don’t want to learn ANYTHING from science, then the easiest argument in the world to have is on whether atheists can be moral without God. This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Even a white belt can really cause an atheist to stop and think, and that’s the goal. Be sure and buy them lunch, though. That’s what money is for.

      All of this stuff is linked here. The debates are here.

      By the way, the best young-earth guys are Marcus Ross and Paul Nelson. I’ve met them both, and they ROCK! I met Paul at a science conference. And Marcus Ross spoke to me about how he became a young earth creationist. You would not believe where these guys did their PhDs: University of Chicago and University of Rhode Island. If you can ever see Marcus Ross talk about the Cambrian explosion – DO IT!!!! He rocks! Kurt Wise is also awesome, his PhD is from HARVARD! yes, that HARVARD!

  5. Jules says:

    Wow cool! Some of the things you’ve mentioned are still way over my head at the moment. I seem to be getting head-aches when I think too much – hahahaha… – I think it’s a sign that I need to start using more parts of the brain and exercise it.

    Btw, I didn’t quite get what you meant in number 3. What argument did you mean that young-earth people should learn? The down-side of that is how I am so bad at math… I always tell people that I am so bad at math and that is the reason why I did English for my Bachelor’s. Hahaha…

    • Number 3 is very easy. Just think of scrabble letters. Inside the cells in your body, scrabble letters are lined up in the correct order to form words, sentences and paragraphs that allow your cell to do things.

      For example, consider your DNA. The Scrabble letters and A, T, G, and C. If an intelligent person sequenced them the right way, then they have a meaning to the cell – a meaning that allows biological function.

      It’s exactly the same as sequencing Scrabble letters from a 26-character alphabet to spell out this comment you are reading now. This comment is in English – it has English meaning, but in your cells, the comment is in God’s language, and it has meaning that allows it perform tasks in the cell.

      When I go to work (and I have to work all Saturday and Sunday this weekend!), I sequence the characters of the English language into Java language words, sentences and paragraphs. The computer can understand this and use it to have “web application” meaning, so that people can hit our commercial web site and do things.

      Does that help?

      I wanted to be an English teacher when I was young, you know!

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