I’ve had an issue with civilization for years, an issue shared by many people: *I DON’T KNOW!* Too much info!
Do you REALLY know how your computer works? How to tell if it’s spying on you?
Are you sufficiently proficient in still-experimental mRNA replication biomechanics and statistical p-value analysis to decide for yourself if the clot shot is a good idea?
What is the metaphysical significance of the Higgs boson being called the God Particle?
Can you do your own small-business taxes?
Will 5G radiation really cook your little buddies? Should a man still wanting kids invest in an EMF cup? Are there real health benefits to wearing a tinfoil hat?
I don’t know and cannot find out except with great effort. Sometimes I get the feeling, that I’m not supposed to find out.
A lot of social media incoherence and high-volume conspiracy theories, to say nothing of clickbait, are the result of people not knowing, and not reasonably being able to find out for themselves, whether decisions that they MUST make are good ideas.
So much information has been gathered in such a short amount of time, that inventors might as well be wizards in ivory towers: coming down on occasion to show us how our lives are about to be improved whether we want them improved or not. The only way you can have an opinion worth listening to, is if you become a wizard yourself. As if you have nothing better to do with your life.
My original opposition to the vaxx had nothing to do with its merits (if any). Why should I have known anything about mRNA research? At the time, I simply noted that the government banned the cure in order to push the vaxx, also, they lied about mask-wearing and Cuomo killed Grandma. Now that I’ve found out the makers of the vaxx created the disease, lie to Congress, torture puppies and will starve me if I keep refusing it, I feel pretty good about my decision. But it wasn’t originally based on medical knowledge.
Into this state of confusion, Wintery Knight made a post about quitting apologetics if the other party tries to skip discussions on the religious implications of cosmological physics. He does good work, so not the most deserving target for a fisking, but apologetics is something that I CAN talk knowledgably about… so here goes.
All emphases are mine, as usual.
By Wintery Knight, 26 October 2021
Here are three situations I’ve run into while doing apologetics in the last month.
First situation. I was talking with a lady who is an atheist. I had a copy of “God’s Crime Scene” in my hand, and she asked me about it. I told her that it was a book written by the guy who solved the homicide case that I asked her to watch on Dateline. She remembered – it was the two-hour special on the woman who was killed with a garrotte. She pointed at the book and said “what’s in it?” I said, it has 8 pieces of evidence that fit better with a theistic worldview than with an atheistic one, and some of them scientific. Her reply to me was – literally – “which denomination do you want me to join?”
Do I have this right? WK asked her to watch a documentary of an interesting crime incident… and the next time she saw him, he held a book on linking the story with Christianity? Her response, in that situation, was appropriate. She got blindsided and chose to eject.
Second situation. I was talking with a friend of mine who teaches in a Catholic school. She was telling that she got the opportunity to talk to her students about God, and found out that some of them were not even theists, and many of them had questions. So she asked them for questions and got a list. The list included many hard cases, like “what about the Bible and slavery” and “why do Christians oppose gay marriage?” and so on.
That’s not even apologetics. That’s a Catholic school administration in dire need of an Inquisition purge for sabotaging the faith and trust of children in God. Whatever they’re teaching, it ain’t Christ and it ain’t an accident.
Third situation. Talking to a grad student about God’s existence. I’m laying out my scientific arguments for her, holding up the peer-reviewed papers for each discovery. I get to the Doug Axe paper on protein folding probabilities, and she holds up her hand. One question: “Am I going to Hell?”
So think about those three situations. In each case, the opponent is trying to reject Christianity by jumping way, way ahead to the very end of the process. When you do Christian apologetics, you do not take the bait and jump to the end of the process dealing with nitty gritty details until you have made your case for the core of the Christian worldview using your strongest evidence.
That’s not my sense of the situations. All three did the same thing but for three different reasons.
The first one might never have been interested in discussing Christianity. Her thought-terminating statement is reasonably definitive on that.
The second one, the children wanted reasons to continue believing… in the face of formal, established Church authority figures.
The third one was a legit opportunity. Blah blah Doug Axe paper on protein folding probabilities and she cut through it like a boss to ask the most important question of the human condition. She was trying, I daresay, to not fall asleep before reaching the good part.
So, your strongest evidence as a Christian are the scientific arguments, along with the moral argument. Those would include (for starters) the following:
kalam cosmological argument
galactic and stellar habitability
origin of life / DNA
molecular machines / irreducible complexity
the moral argument
The problem I am seeing today is that atheists are rejecting discussions about evidence because they think that all we are interested in is getting them to become Christians. Well, yes. I want you to become a Christian. But I know perfectly well what that entails – it entails a change of life priorities.
That list entails Wintery Knight’s listener having an intellect on his level. Those are few and far between. I’ve forgotten more math and compsci than most people will ever know, but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing more than a couple of those topics at the level of “should I drastically change my life priorities?”
My own strongest evidence for Christianity is the self-observable truth that the way people should behave is not the way they do behave. What we Christians call the fallen nature of Man. Does a dog ever struggle to be doglike? But a child must be trained into adulthood and morality! I’m eating a Ding-Dong right now! We need a way to fix this internal flaw… and where did it come from in the first place?
Both of the women I spoke to are living with their boyfriends, and the kids in the Catholic school just want to have fun. None of them wants to believe in a God who will require self-denial, self-control, and self-sacrifice. Nobody wants God to be in that leader position in their lives. Christianity is 100% reversed from today’s me-first, fun-seeking, thrill-seeking, fear-of-missing-out travel spirit of the age.
Don’t whine. This is what you have to work with. It is what IS, whether it should be or not. It is not the duty of the Lost to reach you on your level. It is YOUR duty, apologist, to reach them on THEIRS.
I wish that Smart People everywhere could here me say that. It is YOUR duty to convince me with arguments that *I* understand!
Frankly, the bigger the gap between Christ and this world, the easier apologetics should get. They should want what we have; they should not be beaten into submission by our obviously superior intellects. This is why half the time, my blog reads like a failed manuscript for the Jerry Springer Show, because I want to reach people where they ARE… sitting in the pews of false priests, wondering why their girlfriends are Like That, upset at God for what the devil secretly did in His name.
So, how to answer all these late-game questions? The answer is simple. You don’t answer any late-game questions until the person you are talking with accounts for the widely-accepted data in your list.
Most people lack the intelligence to even comprehend Mr. Knight’s arguments, let alone independently weigh the merits. That is not a slam on most people. Intelligence is vastly overrated today; indeed, some people *cough Vox Day* act as though intelligence is a prerequisite for Christianity. I blame the ubiquity of computers.
Christianity is not only for the smart; it is not even preferentially for the smart. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Cor. 1:27
These are things that have got to be accepted before any discussion about minor issues like one angel vs two angels at the empty tomb can occur. When we discuss all the basic issues where the evidence is the strongest, then we can go on to discuss issues where the evidence is debatable, then finally, in the last bits before the end, we can discuss these other kinds of questions.
I get it. You are playing to your strengths. That’s solid planning. But you must realize, the only people you will be able to reach for Christ are the ones who feel comfortable discussing esoteric science. A refusal to participate might easily be them being, for no fault of their own, too ignorant to proceed.
I think this approach of not letting them rush you to the end at the beginning is important for two reasons. First, we can get our foot in the door to talk about things that are interesting to everyone, in a non-stressed environment. Everyone can talk about evidence comfortably.
No, Mr. Knight. Your motivation in rejecting a topic change is NOT so the other party feels more comfortable. QED, you are playing to your strengths.
I’ve given up on discussing evolutionary psychology because atheists make arguments that I cannot refute. It’s not that their point is valid; it’s that I cannot know if their point is valid without putting my life on hold for two years until I can fully understand the relevant dissertations and take a trip to the Galapagos Islands for a double-check. They would do better to meet me where I am, in my own comfort range of knowledge, if they are to convince me of anything.
Such are the limits of knowledge upon apologetics: if your knowledge is too abstract and specialized then it’s unreasonable to expect anybody to believe you… and maybe they’ll try to skip ahead or change the topic.
Second, we show that we hold our beliefs because we are simply letting evidence set boundaries for us on what we are allowed to believe. We can’t believe not-Christianity, because not-Christianity is not consistent with the evidence. And you start with the most well-supported evidence, and eliminate worldviews that are falsified by the most well-supported evidence. Atheism actually gets falsified pretty quickly, because of the scientific evidence.
Atheism persists despite the weight of scientific evidence against it. Thus, being right has been scientifically proven to be insufficient.
And that’s where you want to be. Cut off all discussions where the challenger tries to jump to the end and get you to debate the very last steps of your case.
Perhaps a better solution is to not depend entirely upon cosmological arguments that, while true, are rarely convincing. Intelligent design was new in the 90s. It has never been refuted. And yet, it has completely failed to thwart the worship of Evo.
Many people are not comfortable debating topics that even accomplished professionals disagree over. Most people need arguments that affect them personally and offer an advantage over their current situation. Instead of insisting that they play to your strengths (and likely, their self-admitted weaknesses), consider first if they want a discussion at all and then if an alternative approach might work better.
“Why should I bother with Christianity?”
“Because women such as your ex are Satan’s Rubik’s cube… would you like to know more?”