The Daily Apologist exists to help make Christians better apologists. Apologetics is required for doing good evangelism in a skeptical world. Here are some tips for being a better apologist.
1.Memorize the main arguments for the existence of God (and have a favorite).
To be a more effective apologist, it helps to have quick recall of the main arguments for the existence of God, like the cosmological, moral, and teleological arguments for God’s existence. Furthermore, We cannot merely know the arguments, and we need to be familiar with their main objections. By doing these two things, we can more readily engage seekers. The strengths of these arguments are seen in the fact that they move from naturally observable phenomena to the existence of an all-powerful, all-good, all-wise creator. They are logically sound and valid. Plus, they are great launching points for a more in-depth conversations about one’s possible objections to the existence of God. It helps to have a favorite one of these arguments that speaks to us, and we find convincing so that we can more precisely discuss it with others.
2. Know Gary Habermas’ historical facts of the resurrection.
Gary Habermas and Michael Licona (among others) have done a lot of work regarding the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, and their work is worth looking into. Most helpful may be what is sometimes called the minimal facts approach. This approach argues from several minimal facts that Jesus’ bodily resurrection is the best explanation of those facts. The facts are 1) Jesus’ death by crucifixion, 2) the empty tomb, 3) claims of post-resurrection appearances, and 4) the explosive beginning of Christianity.
3. Be able to identify common logical fallacies.
It is wise to familiarize ourselves with common logical fallacies so that we can identify them when they are mentioned to us. Furthermore, we can avoid using them. If we are familiar with logical fallacies, the probability of being hoodwinked by bad but good-sounding arguments, decreases.
4. Memorize the five things science can’t prove.
Science is touted as the only epistemologically sound way to know anything. In conversations, it may be helpful to know the five or so things that we can know, and the science can’t prove. This list was first made famous by William Lane Craig and includes the following items. Science can’t prove:
1) Logical and mathematical truths (these things are presupposed in scientific research)
2) Metaphysical truths (it cannot be demonstrated by science that the external world is real)
3) Ethical truths (it cannot be demonstrated by science that Nazis were immoral for torturing Jews).
4) Aesthetic truths (it cannot be demonstrated by science that something is beautiful)
5) Science itself (the scientific method itself is a philosophical claim).
5. Be prepared to engage with street epistemology.
Street epistemology has become increasingly popular in recent years. Though you may never interact with someone who is an official street epistemologist, many of the underpinnings of street epistemology are found in some agnostics and others who eschew certainty. Find out how to better engage street epistemology here.
6. Ask questions.
A real conversation flows both ways. Being a good apologist isn’t about being the answer, man; it’s about trying to get people to think. Oftentimes the best way to do this is to ask people questions. Find out what your friends believe and why. When you see somebody act in a way inconsistent with their worldview, politely ask them how they reconcile these two things that are seemingly at odds with each other. Asking good questions is a great way to open doors to future conversations and see what somebody really believes. Also, when you ask questions, remember that not every wrong answer deserves an immediate rebuttal. If somebody feels like they are asking questions just to be proven wrong, they will probably stop answering.
7. Eat with sinners.
You can’t be a good apologist if you never spend time with people who don’t believe the exact same things as you do. It would be right for us to learn from Jesus and spend time with people who don’t fit the mold of who we usually spend our time with. Befriend an atheist or a skeptic, genuinely hang out with them and build a relationship with them. Before long they will probably be asking you questions. Be kind to people and be ready to answer questions that come your way.
We can become better apologists. When we know some foundational arguments, are kind to people, and seek opportunities, God can use us to reach others.