Have you ever tried striking up a conversation with someone about the existence of God only to find that they have no interest in the question?  Trying to continue the conversation is like trying to talk to a two year old about quantum mechanics.  Strategically, you must find a way to get the unbeliever to see that the question of God’s existence is relevant to his/her life.  I think the most effective approach is to appeal to common existential questions that every human wonders about.  This could include:

  • What do you think happens when you die?
  • Where did everything come from?
  • What is the source of our moral awareness?

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Part of our theodicy for the problem of evil includes the point that it was logically impossible for God to create a world in which humans enjoyed free will (a good thing), and yet were unable to use that freedom to choose evil as well as the good. I accept that as true, and yet Christianity proclaims there is coming a day in which there will be a world consisting of humans with libertarian free-will, who will never choose evil: heaven. The future hope of Christians seems to undermine one of the central premises in our theodicy. Can this be reconciled?

One might point out that the future world void of evil is only possible because God will glorify our humanity. But this is not a solution; it is an admission of the problem. Glorification is being put forward, not to show that such a world cannot exist, but rather to explain how it will become a reality. If in the future God is able—through glorification—to make human beings such that they have free will, and yet will not choose evil, then it falsifies the claim that God cannot create a world in which humans enjoy libertarian free will, and yet never choose evil. Indeed, He will do so in the future. In light of such, we might ask why God did not do this from the onset. Why didn’t He create humans in a glorified state to begin with, if glorified humans can exercise free will and yet not choose evil?

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Skeptics of Christianity often try to undermine the truth of Christianity by pointing to supposed errors or contradictions in the Bible.  As a result, some Christians have abandoned the faith, while others remain shaken in their faith.  This is unfortunate because the skeptics’ approach is fundamentally flawed.

We must distinguish between what makes Christianity true (an ontological question) and how we know Christianity to be true (an epistemological question).  Many people think it’s the Bible that makes Christianity true.  That’s why they question the truth of Christianity when they are confronted with supposed errors or contradictions in the Bible.  A moment’s reflection reveals this to be wrongheaded.  After all, couldn’t God have chosen to communicate the Gospel truths orally rather than in a written format?  Of course!  Indeed, that’s how it was transmitted in the early church.  If Christianity could still be true without any written Bible at all, then surely it could still be true even if the Bible contains errors.

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If God knows every choice we’ll make from eternity past, doesn’t that mean our choices are not free – that God has caused us to do what we do? No. Knowledge is not a cause. Knowing what someone will choose to do in advance of their actually doing it does not cause them to do it. While it’s true that if God knows X will happen, X will most certainly happen, but it’s not God’s knowledge of X that makes X happen. It’s our choice to do X. God merely knows what we will freely choose in advance. While God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to our acts, our acts are logically prior to God’s knowledge. If we would have chosen A rather than B on October 12, 2006, God would have known A rather than B. The reason He knew B would happen from eternity past is because He knew we would freely choose B from eternity past. God’s foreknowledge does not determine our choices, but is informed by our choices. In other words, God’s foreknowledge is not the cause of our actions; our actions are the cause of God’s foreknowledge.

While there are a number of arguments for the existence of a divine being, none of them require that there be only one divine being.  Why should we think there is only one God, then?

The simplest reason to think there is only one God is the principle of parsimony: Do not multiply entities beyond what is needed to adequately explain the effect in question.  Since only one God is needed to explain the origin of the universe, there is no reason to believe there is more than one God.  The burden of proof would be on anyone wanting to postulate the existence of more than one God to explain why we should think there is more than one God.

While the principle of parsimony is instructive, it is not conclusive.  It is based on probability, not logical necessity.  It’s one thing to say no more than one God is necessary to explain reality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is only one God.  After all, only one human is needed to explain how a house got built, but the fact of the matter is that more than one human was involved.  So are there any logical arguments that would logically require the existence of only one God?

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Only the resurrection of Jesus from the dead can explain why Christians believed Jesus was divine.  It also gives credence to the fact that Jesus claimed to be God.

Many skeptics think that Jesus never made claims to deity – that such claims were merely put on his lips by his followers.  But why would they do so?  The Jews had no concept of a divine messiah.  Indeed, the idea that God could become a human being was considered blasphemy to the Jews.  If the gospels are to be believed, the reason Jesus was condemned to death by the Jews was precisely because he claimed to be God.

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when-life-beginsWhen someone supports abortion on the basis that “nobody knows when life begins,” my immediate reaction is to immediately correct their misinformation with the facts of biology.  Doing so, however, does not always end up with them becoming pro-life.  People will often move the goalpost, offering another justification for abortion.

To prevent this, you could ask: “Does this mean that if we knew when life began – and we found that it began at conception – that you join me in opposing abortions?”  If they say yes, then they commit themselves to becoming pro-life once you have provided them with the biological evidence.  Of course, they could always say no, in which case you might ask them, “If it’s not our ignorance of when life begins that justifies abortion, then what does?”  While this may prevent you from being able to provide them with the biological evidence to demonstrate their error, at least it will refocus the conversation to the reason(s) they think justifies abortion – which allows you to be more pointed in your apologetic, and provides a better chance of them changing their mind.