Apologetic Encounter

Christian: How do you know God doesn’t exist?

Atheist: Because I’ve never sensed him.

Christian: Have you ever been to Japan?

Atheist: No.

Christian: Have you ever sensed Japan?

Atheist: I’ve seen pictures of it and heard stories of it.

Christian: Well, I’ve read about God as well.

Atheist: That’s different. People live in Japan, they don’t live in God.

Christian: Actually, the Bible says we all live in God: “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:35). I can also show you a number of biblical passages where the prophets have seen the glory of God; where he has spoken directly to men; where the Lord of Glory came down to Earth and performed miracle after miracle; where, by his Holy Spirit, he imparted miraculous gifts on the apostles, even to raise from the dead.

Atheist: But how do you know those passages are true?

Christian: Because the Bible is inerrant.

Atheist: How do you know?

Christian: Because it is written by God.

Atheist: How do you know?

Christian: Because the Bible says so.

Atheist: You’re arguing in a circle!

Christian: How do you know Japan exists?

Atheist: I told you already, I’ve read about it, I’ve seen pictures of it, I’ve even talked to people who lived there.

Christian: How do you know you were reading about Japan, seeing Japan, and talking to Japanese people?

Atheist: What?

Christian: How do you know?

Atheist: Why would someone lie about that?

Christian: You’re evading the question. How do you know those things are true?

Atheist: There’s overwhelming evidence.

Christian: How do you know?

Atheist: Just look! Do you want me to show you Japan on a map!?!

Christian: How do you know the country, Japan, that is indicated on maps exists?

Atheist: You must be joking.

Christian: No, not really. You have no more conclusive evidence to demonstrate the existence of Japan than I do to demonstrate the truthfulness of the Bible.

Atheist: That’s not true. We can go to Japan and see it.

Christian: I see. So, Japan is a bunch of visual images as experienced by humans?

Atheist: What?

Christian: Japan is nothing more than a bunch of humanly-sensible visual images?

Atheist: No, it’s more than that.

Christian: Like?

Atheist: Well, it’s culture, nationality, values, traditions, history…

Christian: And you sense those things?

Atheist: After a fashion. It has to be experienced in one way or another.

Christian: So how much experience is necessary to know that Japan exists?

Atheist: I don’t know.

Christian: Would you say that visiting the country, Japan, is enough to say you know it exists?

Atheist: Sure.

Christian: So, if I say God has regenerated my heart and made me a new man, then that confirms that the entire Bible is true.

Atheist: Not in the least!!

Christian: Well, you suppose that simply going to Japan means Japan exists.

Atheist: That’s apples and oranges!

Christian: Really? Didn’t you just say that Japan is more than just a physical boundary? That’s it’s culture, people, values, etc.?

Atheist: Yeah.

Christian: Well, simply visiting the country and seeing the landscape certainly isn’t going to give one knowledge of those things.

Atheist: Look. Japan exists because there is overwhelming evidence that it does.

Christian: But you haven’t demonstrated that it’s evidence at all. You just assume that because you’ve seen pictures that people tell you are of Japan, and because you’ve read things that refer to Japan, and because you’ve met people that say they’re from Japan, that Japan actually exists. You haven’t said anything more than, “Many people believe Japan exists.” But many people believe God exists, too. Does that mean God exists? To say there are no empirical data to confirm this is to beg the question. The Bible is evidence that God exists, but it doesn’t fit into your neat and narrow definition of evidence. You accept the testimony of many other people that Japan exists despite never having been there. Why do you reject the testimony of so many people who believe in God? Simply because they haven’t “sensed” him? Is that even a reasonable criterion for a being that is spiritual and not physical? Your fundamental criteria for evidence and presuppositional rejection of the Bible as being adequate evidence precludes you from possibly accepting the biblical declaration that God is Lord.

It’s really no different from me saying that I believe the Bible because God has convinced me to believe it. That’s not a conclusive argument for the truthfulness of the Bible, but it is certainly an argument from which I will infer any argument concerning God. Just as you will only accept extra-biblical data as valid concerning the existence or non-existence of God, I will only accept biblical data concerning the same. Neither position can be justified. They are first principles. You suppose that empirical data are foundational. That is, you believe that whatever can be known is founded in empirical demonstration. I reject this. Instead, I argue that whatever can be known is congruent with the Bible.

Soli Deo Gloria

Jon

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