Friday, December 10, 2010

Answering Atheists

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When and Atheist asks you to explain God, do not take the bait.  Usually it is in the form of a question of God doing something.  For example, "Why does God kill children?"  The question is insincere.  It is not being asked out of a genuine curiosity, but is a trap.  Our Lord was very good at recognizing these types of questions and responding effectively. 

When He entered the temple complex, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to Him as He was teaching and said, "By what authority are You doing these things? Who gave You this authority?" Jesus answered them, "I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for Me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Where did John's baptism come from? From heaven or from men?" They began to argue among themselves, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' we're afraid of the crowd, because everyone thought John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know." And He said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
Matthew 21:23-27 (HCSB)

Let me rephrase the question to make my point.  "Why does a non-existent being kill children?"  The question is absurd.  A non-existent being cannot do anything by definition.   Since the question is illogical to the person asking it there must be some other motive in asking it.  I think the best way to respond to these "Why does God do (or not do) something" questions from atheists is to turn the question back to them. 

"Do you believe that God exists?" 

"No"

"Then why are you concerned about something that does not exist doing something?  Your question seems absurd."

"So you are admitting the God does not exist?"

"No I am just trying to understand your question as you mean to ask it.  The Bible tells me to be weary of answering foolish questions.  Your question seems foolish to me since it is illogical."

Don't answer a fool according to his foolishness or you'll be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his foolishness or he'll become wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:4-5 (HCSB)

A surface reading of this proverb seems to be self-contradictory.  So are we to answer the fool or not answer the fool.  But after some examination and contemplation of this proverb I believe that this is describing my point here.  If you answer the foolish question you become foolish.  If you answer by pointing out the foolish question you make the person asking the question aware of his foolishness. 

This is exactly what Jesus did with the Chief Priests above.  He pointed out the foolishness of their question by getting them to think through their own position.  They became aware of their own foolishness.  So he did not answer the question according to their foolishness, but He did answer the foolishness of the question. 

And so we, in defense of the Gospel must be very cautious to not assume that every question is sincere or that every question is an inquiry of further wisdom.  Sometimes the question is foolish.  Better to point out the foolishness of the question than to answer it, become foolish, and/or make the fool wise in his own eyes. 

The fool says in his heart, "God does not exist." 
Psalms 14:1 (HCSB)

Have a blessed day!

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