The last few months I’ve ventured onto some atheist & agnostic forums, and the G+ pages of some espousing these ideas. It’s healthy to think creatively how to answer objections to Christianity and to ask probing questions that will promote thinking that might be out of their box. Some I’ve conversed with are really quite intelligent (I’m often way out of my league) and so the straw man arguments and approaches that are sometimes used don’t cut it. Just a brief rabbit trail… if you are a preacher/teacher, please don’t take the easy route when explaining why atheism or agnosticism are wrong. That is to say, find out what the strongest arguments are for the opposing viewpoint, and address those. You will be doing your listeners a favor, and especially you
It’s pretty difficult to answer all objections to Christianity on a site such as G+ where the format favors shorter replies, not tome-like pontifications. So I tend to shoot pellets through the chink in the other guy’s armor. I don’t have a broad grasp of all things apologetic, so I just bring up a few issues I understand.
For example, why is there something rather than nothing? This is the most basic philosophical problem. The point I stress here is not that I’m right – it’s that my friend at the other lecturne doesn’t have an answer for this most basic dilemma.
Second, I address broadly the atheist’s insistence that they act with civility and in love toward their fellow man. Actually, I don’t take issue with them at all on how they live and what their motives are. The real problem they face is that in a universe that produced life via random chance, there can be no basis to call any act moral or immoral, right or wrong. There is no foundation for moral proclamations.
This doesn’t sit well with some that I’ve debated – but they have no solid answer, because there is none. It’s been interesting to see the clever deflection of the question, and the sometime angry reply that is a thinly veiled smokescreen, as they become aware (or are reminded) their system has a gaping hole. It sometimes helps to invoke Sartre or some other atheist or existentialist who knew precisely the problem and elucidated it more elegantly than I.
One thing is for sure – self control is of the utmost importance, so when I’m called names, all Christians are labeled unfairly, or the obscenities fly, the response is restrained and thoughtful. There are already plenty who call themselves Christians whose primary objective seems to be to ridicule and scorn atheists, and we need to repeatedly draw distinctions between those who call themselves Christians, and those who show they actually are by their actions.
It helps to bear in mind that according to the New Testament, at least the way I read it, all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and there will be eternal consequences for choices made in this present life. We can argue about the exact nature of hell, and discuss degrees of punishment and so forth, but it’s pretty difficult to explain away the clear and forceful language Jesus used when he spoke about the next life, and the two diametrically opposed realities that await all of humanity – heaven or hell.