Be wise in all you do
When any person debates an atheist and the question about how our world came to be, there are several huge mistakes we make as Christians. These mistakes are very dangerous. They make us look foolish and callous. Remember, atheists are people too. They bleed blood and breath air, just like us. So, let us treat them as such. Here are some rules I have learned along the way:
1) Never start with the Faith card- This is one of the largest mishaps in our faith debates. “You just have to have faith!” Yes, they know that. They know that Faith is a huge element to our beliefs, but if we just reply at all moments with “You just gotta have faith!” we do no justice carefully and honestly answering the question. I am not saying don’t tell them at some point that faith is huge, BUT NEVER EVER say blind faith. If you say you have blind faith in God, then you ignore what Paul calls us to do in Romans. Paul tells us to build our faith upon that which we can see around us (Romans 1:20). Please, build your faith through your exploration of Christ, through historical, metaphysical and natural evidence. (Side point, try to leave super-emotions out of it)
2) Don’t argue for/against science– Especially if you don’t know what you are talking about. One of the downsides of arguing with an atheist or agnostic is that they will always choose the side of evidence that is observable. And on more cases than not, we as typical Christians are not experts on science, and the science we claim to know is often skewed to fit our beliefs. That is extremely dangerous. Science is calling for the discovery of how things came to be. Faith in God is talking about why. It is dangerous to mix the two to assume that one means the other. It is ok to accept science, knowing full well it does not take away from God, but instead shows us more about His Character and truly how creative God can be.
3) Back up what you mean by Intelligent Design– Many people in our day and age fight for something we call intelligent design. This has become the crux of our Christian faith. Sadly, it has also been our biggest downfall. When I say Intelligent Design, what does that mean to you? Do you claim that it is a scientific theory? If so, what does that mean for you? If you claim it to be a scientific theory, how does it play in our scientific method? How do you measure it? If you claim it to be a theory, you have to provide the evidence for it that is measurable. The Bible, God and faith, when claimed to be true, also must hold empirical evidence, which goes back to the first point: listen and heed Paul’s advice to utilize the world around you to see God and build evidence for our faith. Blind faith relies on emotion, rather than what is natural and evident.
The other point is this: Intelligent Design is commonly discussed as a modern day “scientific theory” that does not have to fall in line with the rules that come with the claim “it is a scientific theory.” The problem with that is that any sane person knows you can’t do that. You have to be able to test a claim utilizing empirical data. That is why Intelligent Design is the wrong wording. People often take away the purpose of intelligent design by making it mean intelligent designer, and not the recognition of design. A better and more powerful phrase would be Intelligent Causation, that our Universe has a meaning and was not caused by nothing, but from an originator. We should consider replacing Design with Cause because it points to a philosophy much older than ancient concepts and belief systems.
4) Please define what you mean by creationist– One of the strangest things a person does (including myself) is fit ourselves into a label. It is truly weird. Many Christians claim to be creationists… but don’t really back it up… You see, on both sides, there are claims that one is more scientific. Is theism a scientific theory? Is Atheism scientific? If you say yes, then back it up. Or you could point more towards this- Is there evidence to support each position? Theism and Atheism are not scientific theories, they are worldviews. Each possessing an ability to explain certain aspects of our daily life. To call yourself a creationist however, is very dangerous, especially if you mean you reject modern scientific thought. If you call yourself a creationist, and you need to define what you mean and how it measures up to all the ideas that come with it. (There are too many to list) So in ending, we just need to define this, or instead of living up to a label, explain what you mean!
There are things one should bring up. I don’t want you to think that you can’t bring up any of these topics, but tread lightly.
Casey will have a follow-up post tomorrow sharing some successful and positive approaches to having conversations about our beliefs with others. I’m lookin forward to it! Again, feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions. I’m sure Casey would enjoy that. :)