A Visit from an Atheist...
I recently had the opportunity to attend an event on the campus of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. I challenged local pastors, Christians, and two campus ministries to join me in a Facebook post. Needless to say, no one accepted my challenge. I know, probably not the best idea anyway. The event was titled, Bringing Creationism to its Knees, and featured a popular internet atheist.
In this post I provide highlights presented at the event along with a short answer to each. However, the best way to handle the following claims would be to listen and ask questions. Each objection can be answered using two questions, or a variation of each:
“What do you mean by that?” and
“How did you arrive at that conclusion?"
These questions come from the book Tactics, written by Greg Koukl.
The atheist speaker opened his dialogue by stating the presentation would be more of a “rant.” How's that for an opening remark! Much of what he claimed has nothing to do with creationism. The following are objections raised:
"Creationism/creationism is a hoax." This was his first claim, and it is false. There are three theories of Creationism. Theistic evolution, young earth and progressive/old earth. Each of these deal with the philosophy of science.
"The Bible contradicts..." I would think many have heard the claim that the Bible contradicts. It does not, even if read literally. The Bible must be read in context and according to the genre of each book. The claim typically originates by taking bits and pieces of scripture with a misunderstanding of proper exegesis.
"All religions are wrong somewhere." All religions could be completely wrong, not just somewhere. The more important (and correct) point is that not all religions can be right.
"There is no truth in any religion." I assume this claim referred speciifically to Christianity. As you examine Christianity you come to see how a biblical worldview best aligns with truth, provides better explanations of basic human questions, and provides truth that better corresponds with reality.
"Humans are apes." This objection seems to suffer from intentioal ambiguity. We can at least say that humans are an animal. Or, humans are classified in the animal species. This claim could go in many directions. I would address it as whether we can know truth and morality.
"Faith is..." The presenter uses a definition from the dictionary. This is fine, but it fails to demonstrate that blind faith is not the Christian faith. He claimed it is belief without evidence. Christianity could easily be proven false by providing compelling evidence against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, many of the skeptics who have attempted this feat have drawn the opposite conclusion and instead embraced Jesus as their Savior.
"If one cannot objectively verify something it should not be believed." One cannot objectively verify this claim, so why should we believe it? The claim self-defeats.
"Many denominations, none have truth." I am not sure what a lot of denominations have to do with anything. Most denominations agree on the core biblical beliefs. However, not all denominations are not necessarily Christian.
"A lot of scientists believe evolution." And a lot of scientists believe one of the three theories of creationism! Again, I am not sure of the point he attempted to make.
"I know the Bible is false." Our presenter claimed, with 100% certainty, that the Bible is false. He could not back that claim with evidence. In fact, we have more evidence for the Bible than any other historic document.
"Genesis is folklore." This is a common claim based on other gods. There is no reason to believe the book of Genesis to be folklore.
"Science has explained everything we know." Another self-defeating claim. Science has not explained the claim itself. Science is, in fact, unable to explain many things we know.
As most can see, this is a simplistic overview of my visit with an atheist. The claims made present an opportunity for a more in-depth conversation. The answers provided here are examples only. As mentioned previously, I believe the best way to handle each claim is to diligently listen and then ask questions. The two questions above provide a great starting point.
John Mays is the Chapter Director at Marshall University and the Regional Director for the state of West Virginia. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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