Christian apologetics excites me tremendously. I pay close attention every time I get a chance to hear a Christian apologetics speaker because I really do believe that logic and reasoning lead to truth. Truth is objective, but people usually aren’t! We live in a post-fall world, not a perfect one, and people exercise their reason in multiple forms of irrationality. An argument that is in itself perfectly rational, will often be completely twisted, misunderstood, or ignored by people with prejudice, ignorance, or passion.
I have decided to dedicate the next several posts to the topic of Christian apologetics, and specifically, how to answer an atheist. Before I can do that however, I want to lay out some background on logic and human reason.
Human reason manifests itself in three acts of the mind: (1) understanding, (2) judging and (3) reasoning. These three acts of the mind are expressed in (1) terms, (2) propositions and (3) arguments. Terms are either clear or unclear. Propositions are either true or untrue. Arguments are either logically valid or invalid. A term is clear if it is intelligible and unambiguous. A proposition is true if it corresponds to reality, if it says what is. An argument is valid if the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises.
If all the terms in an argument are clear, and if all the premises are true, and if the argument is free from logical fallacy, then the conclusion must be true.
To disagree with the conclusion of any argument, it must be shown that either an ambiguous term or false premise or a logical fallacy exists in that argument. Otherwise, to say “I still disagree” is to say “You have proved your conclusion true, but I am so stubborn and foolish that I will not accept this truth. I insist on living in a false world, not the true one.”
Having said this, I also recognize that there are limitations to the power of apologetics. Some people just insist upon living in a false world. Apologetics defends orthodox Christianity. Dissenters don’t believe in apologetics for orthodox Christianity because they do not believe in orthodox Christianity. They believe in apologizing for it, not apologetics for it.
Feel free to refer back to this post if it would help to understand future posts. I mainly wanted to give some background and lay some groundwork. During the next few posts, (perhaps interspersed with other things) I will attempt to deal with How to Answer an Atheist: 5 Arguments for the Existence of God.