In the course of having thousands of conversations about the ultimate issues of life, I’ve encountered many skeptics who, out of a deep respect for their religious friends, are reluctant to explain their objections to faith. These skeptics have noticed that, for their friends, the practice of religion is fundamental to filling their lives with meaning, purpose, joy, and service to others. Out of a gracious and loving spirit they decide, “Hey, if that works for you, that’s great. I don’t want to mess with something that’s so beautiful to you.” Also to their credit, when sincerely invited to be open and direct about their perspective, these skeptics have been excellent conversation partners, and we’ve had rigorous, intriguing conversations about our respective beliefs. Continue reading
There are many books worth reading on apologetics. It is often overwhelming and often hard to know where to start. Having recently finished Alister McGrath’s latest book, Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith, I would suggest that this book is a good place to begin.
Have you ever wondered, “What is apologetics and what does it have to do with me?” Have you struggled with how to answer the hard questions surrounding your Christian faith? Or are you skeptical of Christianity, asking the hard questions yourself? In Mere Apologetics, McGrath sets out to begin answering these questions. Structured as an introduction to Christian apologetics, the book rests on the Great Commission’s call to “Go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19-20). McGrath recognizes that with Jesus’ command come many questions and challenges. Continue reading
These days, it seems proselytism (2) is such a touchy subject. I often hear skeptics and atheists complaining about religious people trying to convince others of their beliefs. But, is it really proselytism that is the problem, or is it the sharing of your religion (often called evangelism in Christianity) that is their concern? If we give it a moments thought – which most apparently do not – it is easy to see that it is the latter. This ‘must see’ video by atheist Penn (Penn Jillette) of “Penn & Teller” shows very clearly that it isn’t proselytism in general that should be of concern. It should actually be expected! Continue reading
So many times I have heard people say that faith is believing something despite evidence against it. I have heard skeptics of Christianity deride faith based on this, and I have heard Christians claim a higher level of spirituality because they possess this kind of faith. But is this what faith really is? Let’s look at it a little more closely.
When Person A states that they have faith in Person B, they are stating that they trust Person B. Since trust is the issue here, let’s focus on that. In order for Person A to trust, there must be a foundation for that trust. Usually, Person B has established in the past that they are trustworthy (usually by verification of the truth of claims and/or following through with promises). Also Person B knows something that Person A does not know. In order for trust to be exercised, there must be a foundation to establish trust, and something that is unknown to justify acting upon the foundation of the person’s trustworthiness.
In recent years, many atheists have prominently championed their allegiance to intelligent thought. For instance, there is “The Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science” and Sam Harris’ book “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.” Atheists sometimes refer to themselves as “freethinkers” and “brights.”
The public perception that these atheists are working hard to strengthen is the idea that there is a cavernous divide between “faith” and “reason” or between “faith” and “progress.” The strategy is obvious: atheists are to champion their love for reason and progress while highlighting stories of religious people who evidently hate reason and fight for culturally regressive values. Over time, this strategy is intended to further displace religion and develop a far more secular perspective around the world. Continue reading