THE TAKE AWAY
On October 14, 2012, Lee Strobel and Mark Mittelberg hosted a conference designed to both help Christians understand atheists and help atheists understand the journey many have traveled from atheism to a faith in Jesus. Guest speakers included Dr. William Lane Craig, Dr. Holly Ordway, and Got Questions Ministries board member and AllAboutGod.com co-founder Randall Niles. The conference was simulcast, but no DVD will be offered.
Part 3: Reaching Atheists
By Kersley Fitzgerald
Part 1 | Part 2
The end of both sessions of the Unpacking Atheism Conference were given to thoughts on reaching atheists with the gospel without making them want to run away screaming.
Debating GodDr. William Lane Craig is one of the foremost Christian apologists in the world and one of the few who is willing and able to debate anyone, anytime. When asked if debates can actually make a difference, he assured that they did. He said university students in particular need debates because they distrust anyone who only gives them half of the argument. And the nature of debate is to be academic, not political or personal. Personal attacks have no place in academic discourse.
In his career, Craig has debated many atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens. Craig explained that Hitchens was an anti-theist, an old-school atheist who was more against the ills of organized religion than the existence of God. Craig said that students, including Christian students, liked Hitchens and saw him as the old curmudgeon uncle. Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, has refused to debate Craig*, finally resorting to attacks on Craig's character when his continued boycott started riling Dawkins's own students. On the other hand, Craig and Quinton Smith, atheist and philosopher of physics, are good friends. You can read one of their debates here.
Practical EvangelismAfter the interviews with Dr. Holly Ordway and Randall Niles, Dr. William Lane Craig rejoined the group to talk about practical ways to reach atheists.
Dr. Craig suggested embodying 1 Peter 3:15 and to be prepared. The typical atheist argument is: "There's no evidence for God's existence." Memorize three or four arguments for God's existence. A couple of the proofs he mentioned (see list below), given in a gentle and respectful tone (2 Timothy 2:24-25), will disarm the argument enough to continue on to more personal matters.
Dr. Ordway spoke from her personal experience. Don't be pushy, but do be open. Being a Christian should be a casual and open part of any believer's life, as evident as any profession or hobby. She also noted the importance of reflecting faith through art. Not only because the appreciation of art may lead an atheist to investigate the inspiration of the art, but also because Christian themes (such as Aslan) can give an atheist context for concepts that would otherwise be completely foreign.
Randall Niles pointed out that he needed to become a good listener. Ask a lot of questions. Drop "nuggets" of applicable truth instead of giving lectures. Added to that is the importance of finding out why people believe what they do. Many atheists have very good reasons for rejecting religion. Affirming their story gives credibility when a believer explains the difference between God and man's actions in the name of God.
ResourcesFinally, the hosts mentioned several books. Strobel's The Case for Christ and The Case for a Creator are classics. The hosts collaborated on The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. And Dr. Craig, along with his apologetic standards, On Guard and Reasonable Faith, is coming out with a series of children's picture books on the nature of God.
The goal of both Niles's AllAboutGod.org and Blogos's parent site GotQuestions.org is to make Christian truths and apologetics available online. Here are a few articles directly applicable to the conference:
General Arguments for the Existence of God
- Is there an argument for the existence of God?
- Does God exist? Is there evidence for the existence of God?
- Is there any conclusive proof of God?
- Can the existence of God be proven?
- Does God exist scientifically?
- Does God exist philosophically?
- Proof that God exists
Cosmological Argument/Kalam Argument
- What is the cosmological argument for the existence of God?
- What is the Kalam argument?
- Why is there anything at all, instead of simply nothing?
- What is the best evidence for intelligent design?
- What is the ontological argument for the existence of God?
- What is the philosophy behind the ontological argument?
Teleological Argument/Anthropic Principle/Fine-Tuning
- What is the teleological argument for the existence of God? (GotQuestions)
- What is the teleological argument for the existence of God? (Compelling Truth)
- Teleological argument for intelligent design
- What is the anthropic principle? (Compelling Truth)
- What is the anthropic principle? (GotQuestions)
- Coincidence and Cosmic Fine Tuning
- What is the best evidence/argument for intelligent design?
- What is the multiverse theory?
- How does Fine Tuning Answer "Does God Exist"?
- The Multiverse: 1895-2012. R.I.P.
- What is the Moral argument for the existence of God? (GotQuestions)
- What is the Moral argument for the existence of God? (Compelling Truth)
- How does Morality answer "Does God Exist"?
- Moral Argument Video
Transcendental Argument & the Problem of Good/Evil
- What is the transcendental argument for the existence of God?
- What is the problem of good?
- Problem of Evil Video
- The Problem of Evil Addressed in Two Minutes
- Why does God allow evil?
- Problem of Evil Allows For Love
Other Atheist ArgumentsBelief that God is a virus + the God Gene
- Is belief in God a virus? (GotQuestions)
- Is belief in God a virus? (Compelling Truth)
- The God Virus
- What is the God Gene?
Atheists and their Beliefs
- The Greatest Show on Earth (Richard Dawkins)
- Why Are So Many Scientists Atheists?
- Why don't scientists believe in God?
- What is new atheism?
- What is the Atheist Religion?
Evidence for the Truth of Christianity/Jesus
- With all of the different religions, how can I know which one is correct? (GotQuestions)
- With all of the different religions, how can I know which one is correct? (Compelling Truth)
- How is the Christian religion different from all the other world religions?
Evidence for the Existence of Jesus
- Did Jesus really exist? Is there any historical evidence of Jesus Christ? (GotQuestions)
- Did Jesus really exist? Is there any historical evidence of Jesus Christ? (Compelling Truth)
- Who is Jesus Christ?
- Who was the real historical Jesus?
- Is Jesus a myth? (GotQuestions)
- Is Jesus a myth? (Compelling Truth)
Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus
- Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ true?
- Why should I believe in Christ's resurrection? (GotQuestions)
- Why should I believe in Christ's resurrection? (Compelling Truth)
- Evidence of the Resurrection
- Christianity & History: The Resurrection
- Resurrection Of Christ: The Direct Evidence
* Craig explained that the two have been asked to debate by several independent organizations, but Craig has never personally challenged Dawkins. He's willing; he's just not going to push it. Ironically, on the night this conference was held in Denver, Dawkins was in Boulder, CO.
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