Sunday, July 31, 2011

Defending the Faith: Part I

Defending the faith today is not as it was several years ago. Catholics used to defend themselves by employing apologetics against Protestants or those of another faith, whilst having to 'prove' their beliefs in a one, true faith, and their Church as the one, true Church. It made for a lively evening to be sure. Though we still debate scripture and theology with Protestants, there is a new breed of people that need to be approached with a much more exacting knife, if you will. With Protestants, you didn't have to prove the existence of God since they already believed in God. The points discussed were the 'mechanics' of the faith and the interpretation of scripture. Today, we deal with a whole generation that doesn't  know of the God of traditional Christianity, or even of His existence. But, at least most of them have not flat out refused to believe in a God that could exist. Most are open and receptive to the idea, if your arguments of 'proving' God's existence are reasonable. 

This is different than the atheists. Atheists flatly refuse to accept the notion of a 'God', someone of intelligence that is 'out' there creating things here and there out of love and looking over us and giving us rewards or punishments. The arguments presented to atheists can however, be very much the same as to those that are ignorant of God because of their upbringing or environment.

Peter Kreeft, professor of Philosophy at Boston College once said that Christians cannot prove the existence of God using faith alone, nor can atheist disprove His existence using science and logic. But Christians, using faith, reason and logic can provide enough evidence or 'proofs'  for God's existence in an argument, and all atheists can do is to try to poke holes in those arguments.

Sound familiar? This type of arguing is done in court rooms everywhere. Many have been convicted by circumstantial evidence alone. Here is an example of circumstantial evidence that I found at this site:

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Circumstantial+Evidence
The following example illustrates the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence: If John testifies that he saw Tom raise a gun and fire it at Ann and that Ann then fell to the ground, John's testimony is direct evidence that Tom shot Ann. If the jury believes John's testimony, then it must conclude that Tom did in fact shoot Ann. If, however, John testifies that he saw Tom and Ann go into another room and that he heard Tom say to Ann that he was going to shoot her, heard a shot, and saw Tom leave the room with a smoking gun, then John's testimony is circumstantial evidence from which it can be inferred that Tom shot Ann. The jury must determine whether John's testimony is credible.

We have a faith. We believe in what is not known by fact, scientifically proven or visibly seen, otherwise it would not be called faith.We cannot 'prove' anything with our faith, but we can provide enough 'indirect', circumstantial evidence, as stated above, to allow atheists and non believers to arrive at the possibility of determining whether our testimony is credible enough to allow a smidgeon of doubt of God's existence to enter their minds. In other words, our 'evidence' needs to balance in our favor.  In arguing  your case however, remember that the one who is being argued with must have an open mind, otherwise, it won't matter what evidence  you come up with, for they will be adamant in holding on to their non-belief, and you will not make any inroads, no matter how reasonable and logical are your arguments.

Most of what I will post has been culled from Professor Peter Kreeft and C.S. Lewis. Both of these men have had a lot to say concerning our defense of the faith. Two books that I recommend reading are, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and The Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft & Tecelli. Get them, read them, study them. These two books will be more than you need to argue your case with most people.

To be continued...

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