In my first post, I gave a personal account and reason for Apologetics, which is a branch of theology that studies the defense of what one believes to be true. In this post, I’d like to build on and continue that thought.
Several years ago, many of my friend’s faith was shaken up. Mutual friends of ours, who had been faithfully involved in our church for over a decade, came out as atheists. They didn’t start out that way but had become so over a period of 2 years. When they came out, they met with friends, one at a time, to explain how they came to be so. My information on these conversations is second hand because they never met with me. But from what I understand, it started by isolation, and then by reading books like Richard Dawkin’s the God Delusion. None of these doubts or questions were brought up to dear friends.
Several that I know were shaken up by what was said in those private talks. This part I do know because I had talks with those friends. And was able to help answer some of their questions. Others I referred to a great apologetic book or two. These friends later told me that this helped encourage them and strengthen their faith.
After this happened, it was revealed that other friends who had in the past been faithful in our church were also now atheists. And not just atheists, but followers of Richard Dawkins. Typically followers of Richard Dawkins are beyond atheism but into hatetheism or militant atheism. They aren’t just content to be an atheist, they attack and ridicule believers. This became obvious because their social media posts changed to reflect this.
Even had one friend who revealed that he was no longer a Christian but a deist, because of a documentary he saw on either the Discovery channel or the History channel that revealed “evidence” that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, but survived, and moved to Russia, and got married, etc.
All of this is relevant to Apologetics. There are numerous arguments for the existence of God, from the Cosmological Argument to the Fine-Tuning Argument to the Teological Argument to the Moral Argument to the Problem of Evil. These aren’t even all of the arguments. These help answer atheist questions.
Even a casual study of philosophy and reason reveals how Richard Dawkin’s argument from the God Delusion fails to discredit belief in God. In fact, secularist philosopher David Berlinski himself has written a book that discredits the God Delusion in his book The Devil’s Delusion, Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.
The deist friend was a little trickier. By chance, not longer after my conversation with him, I happened to be at a dinner with some renowned apologists and was able to ask historian Michael Licona about this claim from the documentary. His answer was to ask how early the evidence was. The historical claims and evidence for the existence of Jesus, for his crucifixion, death, and resurrection goes to within a year or two of the crucifixion when you look at 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
Here, Paul is quoting a creed that was given to him. He added himself to the last line. But the rest of it, most historians trace it to within a year or two of the crucifixion. Some even trace it to within 6 months. The latest it could be is 5 years after the crucifixion, when historians believe that Paul received this creed. So any historical claim that is contrary has to be even earlier than this. Even the writings of Paul are within 30 years of the crucifixion because we know when he was martyred.
To sum it up, apologetics helps encourage and strengthen our faith. It also gives us confidence when we are facing doubt or criticism of our faith.