While the earth has always been populated by those who deny the existence of God in the past the majority were “believers” in the supernatural. As we look down the corridors of time, we see most people were primitive and superstitious, claiming belief in “a God” or “gods” while believing in simplistic pagan ritualism and human crafted fantasies. Today the opposite is beginning to take shape. In the wake of reason and the rejection of superstition we see a growing increase of modern skepticism. This often includes the mockery of faith or religion and a complete trust for science and reason. So how do you deal with this modern skeptic movement or host discussions with those who doubt everything? How do you deal with your own doubts or questions? (First off you go and buy “The Reason for God” By Dr. Timothy Keller).
1. Redefine the conversation
Skeptics will often (rightly) point out that certain statements Christians make are not provable and therefore not disprovable. They will then display their faith in science and reason, things that can be provable. They will show that they want to believe, but they only believe in what is shown true. Redefine the conversation by explaining that we all make unprovable faith statements. When I say “God exists and loves me” I make a statement based on my faith. When someone says “God doesn’t exist” they also make a statement based on their faith. Neither one is more or less scientific or logical. Neither one can or cannot be proven. People who say “Christianity is the right religion” make a faith statement. People who say “all religions are the same” make an equally unprovable faith statement. In both cases “religious” or “faith based” statements are being made.
2. Reassert the shortcomings of science
While atheists and agnostics rightly trust the scientific method, as we all should or we would still be treating sickness by “bloodletting”, they often overestimate the ability of science. There are many places where science is helpful, such as determining how the world works and how we can make it better. But science is powerless is in helping us answer the questions of “why.” With modern science we can figure out how the heart works, and when it is sick, but we cannot figure out why it beats, or for what purpose it exists. Astronomy can tell us much about how stars shine, it can even make a hypothesis as to how they were created, but it cannot tell us why they hang in the sky and sparkle with such beauty. Biology can tell us how our eyes see the light rays, how our brain interprets and reconstructs them, it but not why we look at them with such longing in our hearts and experience such joy.
3. Recognize the failures of religion
Skeptics often very rightly highlight the failures of religion. They will point out to the many wars that were started over some form of “religion,” some that was even (in name) associated with Christianity. They will point to examples of church suppressing science and draw the conclusion that Christianity is therefore wrong. You may feel defensive at this moment, yet simply relax and acknowledge that many people who called themselves by the name Christian were wrong. Most of the stories that are recounted by skeptics have truth in them, and we should not pretend they are not. Yet at the same time there are stories that outweigh them and diminish their conclusions. While there have been many religious wars, the wars and murders by atheist societies like the USSR, communist China, Cambodia outweigh them in horror. These countries, and many more, had mass murder, under modern atheist rule, that is unparalleled to anything in all recorded history. Regarding science, while some Catholic churchmen were against its development, most modern science disciplines were created by Christians. For example, Isaac Newton, father of physics, genius mathematician, and considered the most important scientist who ever lived, was not an atheist. Understand the bad did happen, but there are equally opposite facts that deny the conclusions of the atheists.
4. Reconsider the question of purpose
The biggest catalyst to embracing Christianity over modern rationalism is to understand modern rationalism doesn’t answer some of life’s most meaningful and essential questions. “Why am I here for?” And “what is the purpose of life?” Secular evolutionism (as opposed to ‘Christian ‘evolutionism that says God created through evolution) says there is no purpose to life. The only “purpose” of life is to live and avoid death. It is an empty circle of life, one that frightens me with its hopeless darkness. There was a time that I was not a Christian and I seriously considered this to be the answer. And it scared every fiber of my being. That everything in life would simply disappear, I would cease to exist. There is nothing more than working hard at a job you don’t like, raising kids who don’t thank you, dying, and falling into an empty void. It is a horrid tragedy of meaninglessness, but one that is the underlying philosophy in atheism. Instead our very bones groan with a desire to find purpose and meaning; this is where Christianity can provide answers. Ask the question of purpose, consider how futile everything is unless there is a life after this short life. Contemplate as to why people exist, why we have logic, reason, beauty, self-awareness, emotions, relationships, and thoughts. These are things that transcend a purposeless void, there must be a purpose.