Apologetics, by definition, is the art and science of making a defense. In the case of Christian apologetics, it would be the art and science of defending the Christian faith. The weight of such a matter is important for the listening ears. Therefore, if we implement really good reasons for the Christian faith we will make inroads with skeptics. However, the use of bad reasons will cease conversation. With this in mind, here are five really bad arguments you should never use with skeptics.
1. You Can’t Prove that God Doesn’t Exist
This is a popular line of reasoning in the Church. Unfortunately, it is a really bad argument. To say that you can’t prove that God doesn’t exist is true. As Christians, we are making the positive claim that He does exist. Therefore, the burden of proof is on us to make the case. Furthermore, this line of reasoning would be true for any deity. But those deities are eliminated as positive evidence for the Christian worldview.
2. Did You Have Father Issues When You Were Younger?
Sometimes I’ll hear apologist say that more often than not, those who are skeptical had some father/family issues in the past and that is why they’ve turned away from God. This is a horrible argument for a couple of reasons. First, The argument could be run in the exact opposite direction of the Christian. A skeptic might say, “You’re only a Christian because you had a positive father figure in your life from a young age.” Now, I hope all of us had great father figures, but that shouldn’t be why we’re Christians. Second, it is simply an appeal to emotion and motive which are merely attacks on the skeptic. Third, it discounts the skeptics who had good father figures growing up and alienates them from the conversation.
3. I know Christianity is True Because I Feel it In My Heart
This may very well be the case that someone’s religious experiences are absolutely true. However, the unbeliever won’t buy it. You’ll likely get something like, “Well the Mormons believe the same thing, do you think their right?” Appeals to personal experience in dealing with non-believers are usually a non-starter.
4. The Bible Says it and that Settles It
I once overheard a Christian recall a conversation they had with a skeptic and they made the statement, “Well we were talking and he asked me how I knew that Jesus rose from the dead so I told him, If the Bible says it, I believe it.” This is absolutely true for determining issues of doctrine and practice within the church. However, it is a bad argument when talking with skeptics. Sure, the Bible may say something, but how do you know that the Bible is reliable? Most skeptics believe that the Bible is either fable or forgery, so an appeal to the Bible will only work if we’ve made the case that it is historically reliable.
5. You Can’t Live a Moral Life Without God
This might be number 5 on the list but it is trotted out with extreme consistency. Unfortunately, it is a bad argument. There are plenty of people who don’t believe in God who volunteer, do charity work, serve the poor, work on the police force, serve in the military, don’t steal, don’t lie, or cheat on their spouse. Using this argument completely discounts the morality of people who really do treat people well. The issue is not, can we be moral without following God, people can and do. The question we want to ask is how do you justify why you live the way you live?
If we stay away from these five bad arguments we’ll be better apologists and we won’t run the risk of looking uninformed about the truth of the Christian worldview.