A Creation vs. Evolution debate at Portland State University on November 15, 2012, featured Eric Hovind of Creation Today versus atheist Bernie Dehler. For 25 years Dehler identified himself as an evangelical Christian before he abandoned Christianity in 2009 for secular humanism and atheism.
During the Question & Answer period following the debate, Dehler’s 6th-grade son asked Hovind for evidence that God exists. This 3-minute YouTube video shows Hovind’s reply.
Eric Hovind courageously defends Genesis as true history nationwide. But in this instance he missed the chance to give a clear, compelling reply. His philosophical response flew over the head of his sixth-grade questioner. Eric expressed his answer poorly. He confused the sixth-grader who had no idea what Eric meant.
It’s difficult giving cogent answers on your feet in the midst of a debate, but apologists should have effective answers prepared for the “standard,” predictable questions.
The key is to connect with the questioner’s mind and heart. An answer that the questioner does not understand is useless, no matter how “correct” the answer. Apologist Ravi Zacharias exemplifies how to connect with the questioner’s heart while speaking clearly to his rational mind.
Marc Jacobs responded to this video with Biblical Relevance in Modern Culture: Evidence of God? His insightful response is good for a thoughtful adult. However, it is likely still over the head of a sixth-grader.
Jacobs’ main point reminded me of this statement by C.S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” There is a light that cannot be denied. Denying or trying to “snuff out” the light shows the light exists.
Jacobs’ arguments are weighty and compelling for thoughtful adults, but thoughtful is the key word. Many people no longer engage in rigorous mental work. Mental laziness presents a major obstacle to communicating Biblical truth in our culture.
Too many people say, “How could so many scientists be wrong (about evolution)?” So they end up accepting evolutionism, naturalism, and atheism — not due to convincing arguments, but because they rely on other people to think for them. Most do not realize that the ones they trust to think for them have a worldview radically opposed to their own.
What Would I Say?
How would I answer the student’s question in the video? What would I say if asked, “What is your evidence for God?” or “How do you know God exists?”
The best approach with children (and maybe even with adults) is to use concrete examples and stories to grab their attention and engage their interest. Use questions to stimulate their thinking and engage their rational mind. In my next post in this Evidence for God series, I will outline how I would have answered the 6th-grader’s question.
Questions to Ponder
Before I tell you next week how I would answer the questions,
“What is your evidence for God?” or
“How do you know God exists?”,
please think about them yourself.
How would you answer these questions from a friend, a colleague, or even a stranger?
Or maybe you would rather answer these questions:
“What is your evidence that God does NOT exist?” or
“How do you know God does NOT exist?”
Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday June 19, 2013 A.D.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)