A Field Guide to Evangelism (3/10)

Christians can easily become intimidated when sharing the gospel with the “intelligentsia.” This should not be so. The believer need not assume a position of weakness when talking with skeptics. The Christian worldview offers much more than many people realize when it comes to describing reality. In fact, an atheistic worldview is actually forced to borrow certain assumptions that flow from a theistic outlook in order to formulate an argument against it.

Consider how we use the basic laws of logic in our everyday conversations. The law of noncontradiction, for example, is utilized in evaluating truth claims. This is the principle that something cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same way. But have you ever thought about how a naturalistic framework might account for such a law? How can eternal, mindless and impersonal matter produce logical laws that guide our thought?

On the other hand, the laws of logic flow smoothly out of a worldview that places an eternal, intelligent and personal creator as the source of all things. This underscores part of a perennial problem for the atheistic outlook. Atheists from previous generations like H.G. Wells, and even contemporary atheistic philosophers like Thomas Nagel, recognize that in atheistic naturalism there is no objective reason to trust our cognitive faculties.

Both Wells and Nagel offered these concerns in print, calling into question the bravado with which people boast of their brainpower for comprehending the world; Wells in an article, “Doubts of the Instrument,” where instrument refers to the brain, and Nagel in his recent book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Both men doubt that unguided nature is able to provide a basis for cognitive confidence.

This doubt can be traced back to Charles Darwin himself, who questioned whether or not he could trust his mental thoughts if his brain is merely a product of evolution. He understood that, if nature is all there is, then there could be no certainty that our brain is reliable.

Apologists have consistently exploited this worldview weakness. C.S. Lewis claimed that this difficulty is a self-contradiction in naturalism. G.K. Chesterton called this the “thought that stops all thought.”

Though much more can be said about this topic, the apologist must recognize that only Christianity provides a reasonable explanation for reason itself. Even arguments against God are forced to presuppose logical laws that only make sense if God exists.

Thus, when the apologist presents the gospel, he should do so with the confidence that it is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel makes sense of the world we live in and provides a foundation for rational discussion. Truth is knowable because, as Francis Schaeffer said, “God is there and he is not silent.”


This post is part two of a ten post series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

The content is taken from chapter nine of the SBTS Field Guide to Evangelism available in print or as an eBook here.