Separating What’s Possible from What’s Reasonable
by Lenny Esposito
Man: Oh look, this isn’t an argument.
Mr. Vibrating: Yes it is.
Man: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.
Mr. Vibrating: No it isn’t.
Man: It is!
Mr. Vibrating: It is not.
Man: Look, you just contradicted me.
Mr. Vibrating: I did not.
Man: Oh you did!!
Mr. Vibrating: No, no, no.
Man: You did just then.
Mr. Vibrating: Nonsense!
Man: Oh, this is futile!
I’ve always been a big Monty Python fan. The Pythons’ ability to mix thoughtful, intelligent subjects with all-out silliness has never been matched. One of their most famous sketches is “The Argument Clinic” where a man pays for the service of having an argument. Unfortunately, his results are not what he expected. If you’re unfamiliar with the sketch, you can watch it below.
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The discipline of apologetics is all about giving reasons for your faith. I’ve engaged with many people, both in person and online, who are skeptical about the claims of Christianity or the Bible. They demand evidence for things like God’s existence or the resurrection of Jesus. They say that “blind faith” should be avoided and reason should hold sway over our beliefs.
In such conversations, I usually agree. Christianity has never promoted a blind faith, but one based on certain evidence. Then, depending on the objection raised, I demonstrate this by explaining the evidence I have for my view. If we’re discussing God’s existence, for example, I talk about the fact that something cannot come from nothing, that we see clear signs of design in the conditions of the universe, and so on.
Like the man in the Argument Clinic, my reasons have been sometimes met with “but it isn’t impossible that the initial conditions of the universe just happened to be set that way” or “it may be the case that the universe came from something else that we don’t know” or “it could be possible that certain chemicals came together to form a living organism.” Others will respond with claims that although science offers no answers for us now, it will someday; we just need to give it more time.
The problem with such replies is that they are not seeking to answer the question the skeptic originally raised…