Archive for October, 2008

Be Prepared!

Posted: October 21, 2008 by clairer in Evangelism
Nate: I don’t believe that God can be a God of love and a God of judgment.  He has to be one or the other.

Dan: Well, you know, I think it’s possible to be both.

Nate: Why?

Dan: Because the Bible says so.

Nate: What makes you think the Bible is true?

Dan: Because God says so and he never lies.

Nate: Where does it say that?

Dan: In the Bible.

Nate: What makes you think the Bible is true?…

And on and on it goes. Am I the only one who ever runs across these discussions full of circular reasoning?  Are these weak arguments ultimately all that Christianity stands on?

There was a discussion I saw in a forum recently.  One person was a Christian, one wasn’t.  The Christian appealed to the Bible as their authority, the non-believer to science.  At one point, the non-believer said, “I’d like you to provide a source that is accepted anywhere outside of a religious institution. Or, if you can’t, rather tell me what tells you the Bible is true.”  The Christian responded saying, “What tells me the Bible is true is faith, pure and simple.”  Yes! It does come down to faith.  In the end, no scientific data will prove the existence of God or the veracity of the Bible, but here’s my point: I doubt that the Christian thoroughly thought about or researched the non-believer’s question.  When challenged with “What makes you think the Bible is true?” he just fell back on the old Christian standby: faith, and when that argument didn’t stand with the non-believer, he reverted to the change he’s seen in his life (another truth, but once again, for a non-Christian, the change could be attributed to a change in family life or circumstances).

If he had actually thought about it, he may have found some more sound scientific evidence that would, at least, have given him some credence when debating with this non-believer.  But because he hadn’t studied, he wasn’t prepared to “make the most of every opportunity.”  I wish he could have looked into the topic and found studies such as the one that Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus at Westmont College in California, and charter member of the American Scientific Affilaton, conducted to test the reliability of the Bible.  John Blanchard, in his book Why Believe the Bible, talks about the study saying:

But was there not some possibility, however remote, that people claiming to be God’s prophets were nothing more than religious fanatics who ‘just happened to get it right’?….[Professor Stoner] answers the question by concentrating on just eleven prophecies taken from the writings of four prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Micah.  These prophecies related to the land as a whole, the destruction of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of its temple and the later enlargement of the city — and they were all fulfilled to the letter.  Calculating the probability of this happening by chance to be one in 8 x 10^63, Stoner illustrates what this means.  He says that if we were to scoop together a pile of coins equal in size to 100 billion stars in each of the two trillion galaxies in just one second, add to the pile at the same rate every second, day and night, for twenty-one years, then ask a blindfolded friend to pick out one coin from this incomprehensibly massive pile, his chances of doing so would be the same as the likelihood that these four prophets could have got their forecasts right by guesswork.”

So, here’s my question: which argument will receive more credibility when defending whatever it is that you believe: an appeal to the emotions or the science?  I realize that not everything in Christianity can be proved by scientific means, but I think sometimes we’re too quick to simply say, “Well, you just have to believe it.”  The key is to be prepared to defend what you believe.  There are so many credible resources on just about any topic available at the click of the mouse.  It is so important to know what you believe and why you believe it (even if it requires additional studying so that you understand it!), so that when you are challenged, you’re ready to explain.

Some books I’ve found helpful: