My blog is mostly apologetics – with a little politics and theology thrown in once in a while. I try to write in such a way that I cover my points pretty well, while still keeping my posts reasonably short. It occurred to me, though, that even two, typewritten pages can contain a lot of material and if people want to use some of my points in discussions with non-believers, they might need some quick bullet-points that are even shorter and easy to remember.
To that end, I thought of what might be the five simplest, yet still effective arguments Christians could use when talking with atheists. If you remember only these five points, you'll find they'll go a long way. I tried to think of a 5-letter acronym to help remember them but nothing came to mind. If anyone has a suggestion, comment me.
1) The existence of matter and space
There is a law in science called the conservation of matter. It basically says that matter can never be created nor destroyed. You can convert matter into energy, but the net amount of matter/energy in the universe remains constant. This begs the question: if matter is not being created, where did it all come from in the first place? Logically speaking, nothing can create itself so the universe must have been created by something outside of itself. There has to be a supernatural, eternal, First Cause. I call Him, God.
2) The origin of life
Once upon a time, people believed maggots sprang out of rotting meat through a process called, spontaneous generation. Through experimentation, though, all examples of spontaneous generation were shown to be false. In every case, another living organism was determined to be the origin. In the case of maggots, for example, it was flies lying eggs on the meat. Darwin, however, stilled believed that spontaneous generation could occur in single-celled animals. That's because he believed uni-celled creatures were “simple” blobs of goo – a fortunate arrangement of amino acids. We know now that even single-celled creatures are incredibly complex. In spite of all of our efforts, we've never been able to create a living thing nor seen one rise spontaneously in nature. The true origin of life is a bona fide miracle. God created life.
3) Absolute morality
Is it wrong to lie? Is it wrong to steal? Is it wrong to rape? We all know it is but why? Among animals, we can find numerous examples of deception, cunning, or forced mating. Why are these things wrong for humans but not animals? Some people think society decides for itself what is right and wrong. If that is true, then we could hardly condemn Nazi Germany for the holocaust since that is what they thought was best for them at the time. It just seems we instinctively know that some things are always wrong but again, why? Obviously the universe doesn't care what happens. Objective right and wrong can only exist if there is a moral code that transcends human opinion. If good and evil exist at all, it is only because God exists.
4) The historical fact of Jesus
Pick any person from the past and try to prove – scientifically – that he ever lived. You will soon find it's an impossible task. When we study historical figures, we look at historical evidence. What was written down about them? In the case of Jesus, we have the gospels and the letters of Paul. We have the extra-biblical writings of historians like Josephus, Tacitus, and Pliny the younger. We have eyewitness accounts of the miracles of Jesus and His promise of eternal life to those who believe in Him. We have eyewitness accounts of people who saw Him die and saw Him alive again. We have accounts of the empty tomb, the martyrdom of the apostles, and the explosion of the first century church. We have more evidence for the historical fact of Jesus than any other person of antiquity. Jesus lived, died, and rose again.
5) The lack of evidence to the contrary
This is where the rubber meets the road. You see, atheists proudly boast that they've never seen compelling evidence for God. If you run down the above four reasons why there must be a God, they will merely shake their heads and say it's not enough evidence for God. Next, they accuse Christians of believing in a god-of-the-gaps and wherever we lack scientific understanding, Christians want to just say, God-did-it. I think they have a weak argument. How can they say God didn't do it unless they can provide strong evidence to the contrary? Let me show you how this applies to the above points:
- Point #1: Suppose I'm walking through the woods with a friend and we come across a crude log cabin. I might wonder who built it but my friend says, “No one built this. Look at all these sticks lying around here. I'm sure they just arranged themselves into the shape of a cabin – we just need to look for some natural mechanism.” Before I abandon the obvious conclusion that the cabin had a builder, my friend has to convince me that no one could build something. Furthermore, he has to convince me that his explanation is more likely than mine. You see? He has to provide evidence to the contrary of the most reasonable conclusion. I'm willing to listen but I don't think any story he could invent would convince me yet atheists believe that nothing created everything!
- Point #2: The origin of life poses a similar problem for atheists as the origin of matter. Atheists still cling to spontaneous generation only now they call it abiogenesis. Regardless, it's still the idea that life can arise from non-living matter. What compelling argument can the atheist make that would have me reject everything we've learned up till now and consider an idea that was discarded not long after blood-letting?
- Point #3: If atheists believe there are such things as good and bad, they need to show how they transcend human opinion. Atheists often ridicule the Bible, for example, saying that it endorses things like slavery. What makes the atheists' view of slavery more “right” than the societies who thought it was OK to own slaves? If they have no alternate, objective standard of morality, they need to stop using their personal opinions of right and wrong to criticize the Bible's standards.
- Point #4: Atheists often attack the Person of Jesus saying He was a myth or an embellishment. They say the Scriptures are of dubious origin and have been corrupted through centuries of translating and editing. So where is their evidence for these claims? Where are the uncorrupt autographs that I can compare with our modern Bibles to see the differences? How do they impeach the testimonies of people who claim to be eyewitnesses to the miracles of Jesus – including His resurrection? What am I to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls or the thousands of Greek and Latin manuscripts? It's fine that they choose to ignore the evidence but I would ask them what other historical figures have as much evidence and which of those with less evidence do atheists dismiss as myths?
There are compelling reasons to believe in God. Atheism, on the other hand, suffers from a glaring lack of evidence. I've never heard a sound argument for why atheism is true and correct. I only hear criticisms of Christian arguments.
Atheists can say they reject the evidence for God. They just can't say why.