Believe it or not, formal debates on the existence of God regularly turn out thousands of ticket-buying intellectuals to hear atheists and theists go at it. Although it may seem silly to give out medals for something every kindergartener should know, there is much to appreciate in well-turned arguments that support the affirmative.
Setting personal style biases aside, how do the best theists make their case for the existence of God? For a sampling of how heady this question can get, check out William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology. Sam Harris, one of today’s most prominent atheists, recently described Dr. Craig as “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”
Here’s a full-on “Does God Exist” debate between Dr. Craig and Dr. Peter Atkins.
Why adopt an intellectual approach? After all, can’t we just fulfill the Great Commission by living a good life and introducing others to the Bible? Sometimes we have to meet people where they are, and often they refuse to accept biblical arguments. Christians contend that Christianity is reasonable, and therefore science, logic, and philosophy are all in play. But is the juice worth the squeeze? The intellectual approach is hard work.
There are many Christians who traveled the road from atheism to Christianity by thinking, studying, and applying logic. But don’t take it from me, read the comments at the bottom of this popular atheist’s post on the effectiveness and debating skills of Dr. Craig. (Don’t skip over the previous hyperlink—it really provides insights into the value of an intellectual approach to apologetics.)
Most of us aren’t as skillful at making arguments as William Lane Craig, even after reading his books and studying his material on the Internet. Fortunately there are some shortcuts. Of the 20 or so historical arguments for the existence of God, Dr. Craig routinely uses only four or five of them in his debates. David Work has been posting summaries on his Reasons for the Hope blog. Here you go:
Part 1 The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Part 2 The Vertical Cosmological Argument
Part 3 The Teleological (Design) Argument
Part 4 The Moral Argument
Part 5 Intelligent Design
Part 6 The Argument from Need
Why not invest a couple of hours studying these arguments, put them in your apologetics tackle box, and try them out when the fish aren’t biting?
HT: David Work, William Lane Craig, Sidney Harris