|"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . ."|
Are we just going to use this opportunity to trash religion?This in fact was an opportunity to trash religion in general and Christianity specifically. Yes, there was the occasional insult directed towards Islam, but for the most part, this was a highly organized rant against the God of the Bible.
No. This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active. While speakers have the right to say what they wish, the event is indeed a celebration of secular values.
|The turnout was pretty good, but not as good as I expected.|
|Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake? That doesn't sound very reasonable to me!|
Here's a great example of the kind of nonsense I encountered this weekend (and no, I'm not interested in discussing controversies related to Kent Hovind, tax-protesting, or the like; this video serves only as one example of the type of irrationality I regularly encountered when interacting with its participants):
While that type of irrationality was plenteous, we had a great time of outreach:
|Sye TenBruggencate of Sinner Ministries.|
|Some of the preachers holding signs were decent apologists whereas others were unprepared to interact intelligently with the unbelievers surrounding them.|
|Me interacting with a small group at first.|
|Some of the sign-holders agitated the atheists at times, but it made for a great way to start conversations.|
|Me explaining to an atheist that he is taking Scripture out of context to justify his position. This drew a huge crowd of people who were able to hear the gospel.|
|Many listening to me reason with the unreasonable.|
|It was heartbreaking to see someone so Hell-bent against God that they had tattooed "unsaved" on their arm.|
|The crowds in the perimeter were growing just as steadily as the dialogues were.|
I attacked the four areas that skeptics pride themselves on by asking the following simple questions:
1. Truth - I asked, "What is truth in your worldview? What's your definition of 'truth'?"
2. Logic - I asked, "If you believe that only matter exists, (a) how do you account for the immaterial, universal, propositional, immaterial laws of logic given your philosophical materialism apart from an appeal to God and (b) how to you make sense out of our obligation to be rational?"
3. Science - "How do you answer the problem of induction from a secular perspective?"
4. Morality - "How do you account for objective morality without God?"
Regarding truth, most atheists responded, "I don't have to give a definition or account of truth to know what's true." I then responded usually with something like this, "If you don't know what truth is and can't account for it at all, how do you know that Christianity is false and atheism is true?"
Regarding logic, every atheist I interacted with in an in-depth way (which was probably 10-15 people) was completely unprepared to deal with this line of argumentation. I essentially simplified and used Drs. Welty and Anderson's argument for God from logic. Most of their rejoinders were of two kinds: (1) the laws of logic are just descriptions of the way humans have evolved to think, and (2) Nominalism - the laws of logic don’t really exist; claims about laws of logic are just convenient fictions. I refuted both of these by pointing that (1) confuses a description of those laws with the laws themselves, and (2) if the laws of logic don't really exist then they do. In other words, I pointed out that the laws of logic must exist in order to deny them; i.e., they exist necessarily.
Regarding science, we defined the problem of induction and then asked them if they knew how to answer the problem of induction apart from an appeal to the Judeo-Christian God. Using arguments from this paper, we showed that they can't make sense out of their scientific investigation apart from an appeal to God.
Regarding morality, we defined what objective morality was, showed that it requires God to make sense out of it, and as expected, most atheists defended moral relativism. When we showed the self-defeating nature of moral relativism, several atheists became emotional, inconsistent, and/or admitted that it would be okay to torture little girls for fun as long as society agreed to it. Please read the italicized portion of that last sentence again, its not a typo.
As expected, the atheists we interacted with were a philosophical and theological mess. All of the ones we interacted with were clueless about the very worldview they were attempting to critique and every one of them had a "Christian" background. We lovingly called every one of them to repentance and weaved Scripture in and out of our apologetic discussions. Paul nailed their predicament 2,000 years ago,
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. (Eph. 4:17-19)
Nevertheless, we had some fun by enjoying some sightseeing the day before, some fellowship the night before during the "training time" and when taking breaks from evangelism:
|A decent high-definition photo of the Capitol Building. It was a beautiful day for sight-seeing.|
|Elissa pondering the tulips as we overlook the National Mall.|
|The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution chiseled in stone on the side of this building.|
|Daddy and daughter enjoying some time together after evangelizing for almost 6 hours straight.|
|Mommy and daughter gettin' their grin on for the camry!|
|Bethel World Outreach Church - these were the only facilities we could procure for our training Friday night.|
|Chewing the fat with Eric Hovind and Mark Spence.|
|Photo opp with Pastors Jeff Durbin and Luke Pierson of Apologia Church. Both of these men are ardent defenders of the faith and good friends.|
|Enjoying Pastor Luke Pierson's manly beard.|
IN CONCLUSION, atheism has nothing to offer and it was further confirmed this weekend. However, I want to finish on a good note. The last young man we spoke with was an early twenty-something who said he was as "former Christian". From a strategic standpoint, we didn't immediately challenge this claim as we sensed that it would have caused him to shut down to further dialogue, but we first listened to him and then asked diagnostic questions in order to show the problems with his worldview using the four categories above. When challenged, he then started "performing" in front of the other atheists standing around listening. They then entered the conversation but when we shut them down too, they all became very irrational and this young man picked up on their inconsistencies and irrational behavior and by his body language, you could tell that it made him uncomfortable and embarrassed. We then closed down those conversations since they were becoming unprofitable and then the young man said, "Hey, why don't we go over here and talk since I'd really like to listen to the next speaker." This was a sign that he wanted to ask some sincere questions, so we walked over to the edge of the Rally's main crowd while the next speaker began, and the young man began to ask me, "How do you really know that Christianity is true, how do you really know the Bible is God's word? Why do you believe that?" and as I began to "slice and dice" with apologetics and he said, "No, I don't want to challenge you or put you on the defensive, you see, I used to be a Christian, and I want to really know why you personally and sincerely believe these things." I essentially gave him this answer,
We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts. [1689 LBCF 1:5]I then explained that when you begin with the correct foundation for all your reasoning, you're not left to "the futility of [your] mind, being darkened in [your] understanding" (Eph. 4:17-18). He then said, "But I really don't believe in God anymore." I then said, "I believe you're being sincere as well, but there's a part of you that's agreeing with me right now and saying, 'What's this guy's saying makes a whole lot of sense' and there's another part of you that's saying, 'No, run from this nonsense!' I know man, I've been there!" I then explained per Romans 1:19-32, that all people with normally functioning mental faculties intuit God through their own consciences and through the external world. However, because he went above and beyond in his truth suppression by drinking deeply from the sewage of secularism, those mental faculties that naturally intuit God were now damaged by sin. I then explained to him that this is the downward spiral of reprobation that God describes in Romans 1:18-32. At this point his hands began shaking and his jaws were clenching from what appeared to be some measure of conviction of sin. I then told him, "Many of the people in this crowd in front of you are too far gone. They have suppressed the truth for 30-40 years and as a result, they have been given over fully to a depraved mind." I then pointed out that he too was on that path and that he needed to beg the God that he hated for the ability to love Him. I gave him my ministry card and it was then that I was whisked away by one of the bearded pastors in the photos above. May God get great glory to Himself in these outreach endeavors and may He move Christians to both support those who are going into the secular mission field and equip themselves to do the work of evangelism in their own little sphere of influence.