What I’ve Learned About Apologetics Since Coming to College
by Ryan Moore
Right before coming to college as a freshman, I went to CIA (Cross-Examined Instructors Academy). I was ready and confident with answers. I knew the material, I had done presentations at high schools, and gone through the entire “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” seminar at a church. During welcome week, at the organization fair, I challenged two different clubs with opposing worldviews and went out to eat with the student presidents of those clubs during the following week. During both of those lunches, I was not confronted with an objection that I had not been trained to answer. The questions and objections were popular ones. However, during those lunches and the other countless conversations I’ve had about the validity of Christianity, with people that hold to opposing beliefs, I learned and am still learning a lesson that I do not think one could have taught me. That lesson being when doing apologetics outside of a presentation, it is an extremely relational process and, more times than not, the core of intellectual doubt is typically emotional doubt.
The Problem that leads to a Process
Whether it be the meals I’ve had with skeptics or the random every day conversations, skeptics always seem to have some intellectual problems that they will try to bring up. The most typical slogans I hear and have been told are “A good God wouldn’t allow suffering and evil”, “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming,” “There is no evidence for God,” and “Jesus did not rise from the dead, if he did he is a zombie not god.” (Someone actually told me that.) Whatever the intellectual problem may be, they are there and being talked about. However, what I have realized is that most
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of the time underneath the intellectual doubt, there is some type of emotional or volitional doubt. I was talking to someone very close to me who was arguing that the Bible’s account of Creation did not match science. Her argument was very intellectual, flawed, but intellectual to say the least. After I presented the answers I had studied out and had been trained to give, her argument collapsed. Suddenly the look on her face changed. She was mad and sad. Her emotions were taking over. All of a sudden she screamed at me, “If God is so good, why is there suffering, why would God allow pain in my child’s life and all over the world!?” I had just reached the core to her unbelief. It was emotional, she didn’t understand that pain and suffering in the world. Something she was going through or had gone through was the reason to her doubt. Her emotional problem was leading to a volitional disbelief (emotional and volitional normally go hand in hand). She did not want an intellectual answer to the question she asked me. She wanted someone to hurt with her, to weep with her. This has been a common conversation for me. The problem of evil coming up after they realize their intellectual arguments are flawed is common. It takes time and care to get over emotional problems. This has led me to realize that apologetics outside of presentations is an extremely relational process that demands love, gentleness, and respect…