Dealing With the Atheist, Skeptic, & Intellectual

Presented By: Kedron Jones, Apologetics Research Society


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I.                   Introduction: A Brief History of Philosophy

1.      Philosophers have attempted to answer 3 foundational questions in life.

a.       Questions in Epistemology[1]

i.                     The nature of truth & objectivity: What is the nature
of truth and objectivity?

ii.                   What are the standards or procedures for justifying ones

iii.                  Science & Discovery: (The very procedures of science)
how are they to be evaluated and their standards about offering things to the

b.      Questions in Metaphysics[2]

i.                     What is man? Is he free? Is he basically good or evil?

ii.                   What is the origin of the universe? Where did it come
from? How does it work?

iii.                  Does God exist? What is man?s place in the universe before
God (if there is a god)?

c.       Questions in Ethics[3]

i.                     What is ?good,? and what is ?evil??

ii.                   What are the standards of ethics?

iii.                  How do we produce or obtain moral character and conduct
ourselves in society?

2.      Since the beginning of time all men have done philosophy.

a.       Everyone does philosophy and has a worldview by which they live by.

b.      If you studied the Stoics, they believed in a universe ruled by law,
the brotherhood of humanity, and a life after death. The Epicureans believed
in a universe of blind chance, and extinction of death once.[4]

c.       This is sort of the precursor to the debate between the theist and
non-theist. The theist believed in the immaterial soul while (for the most part)
the non-theist believes that there is no life after death.

3.      For many centuries the Christian worldview dominated in the western

a.       But during the nineteenth century various philosophies of life challenged
the philosophical assumptions of Christianity.

i.                     These were other philosophies of life such as materialism,
secular humanism, and scientific atheism.

b.      Today this is still going on. The debate between the theist and the
non-theist isn?t just over particulars but over matters of an entire worldview.
We have worldviews in conflict.

II.                Worldviews in Conflict

1.      James Sire, in his book, The Universe Next Door states, ?A worldview
is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed
as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially
true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently
or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides
the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.[5]?

a.       One?s worldview determines their interpretation of facts.

i.                     A man thought he was dead and no matter what anyone said
to persuade him otherwise, he believed he was dead. He finally went to see a
physician to find out if he could be convinced he was not dead. After several
questions the doctor asked the man, ?Do dead men bleed?? The man said, ?No, dead
men do not bleed.? So the doctor took a needle and pricked him and he began
to bleed. In amazement the man declared, ?Why look at that! Dead men do ble

ii.                   His presupposition of being dead determined his interpretation
of the facts.

iii.                  Have you ever tried to prove something biblically to someone
and the evidence was clear but for some reason they still didn?t get it?

2.      Not only does this worldview disparity make sharing the Gospel message
more difficult (e.g., ?What does the divinity of Jesus mean to a Hindu who has
potentially millions of gods to worship??), but it also creates a major challenge
to our traditional apologetics methods (e.g., what seem to be convincing ?evidences?
for the reliability of Christianity make little sense to someone who does not
share some basic theistic convictions).

a.       As Dorothy Gale noted so memorably in The Wizard of Oz, ?We?re not in K
ansasanymore, Toto.?

b.      The world of 2007 is not the world of 1977, or to put it more bluntly;
we are far removed from the environment in which Josh McDowell could simply
present Evidence That Demands a Verdict! Sadly, for many in our world today, the wonderful
message, ?Jesus is the Answer!? will only bring a confused and/or annoyed response,
?So what is the Question?[6]?

c.       So how does one penetrate a person?s worldview and bring someone to
Christ while defending Christianity?

3.      The book of Proverbs 26:4-5 gives us sort of a guideline for approaching
the unbeliever.

a.       ?Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him

i.                     When dealing with the unbeliever Solomon says not to
answer the fool according to his worldview or you will be like him. God is our
standard for all reasoning and we must answ
er him according to the Christian
outlook on life.

b.      ?Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own

i.                     In this step you will be showing the unbeliever that
on his own autonomous presuppositions he cannot justify reality, knowledge,
logic, morality, value, meaning, purpose or anything. You want to show him the
outcome of his worldview when his principles are fully followed out. In this you?re
answering a fool according to his folly to show him the error of his ways.[7]

c.       When dealing with the atheist, skeptic, or intellectual you are basically
showing that Christianity is the only rational worldview to hold.[8]

i.                     Christianity is the only worldview that provides the
philosophical foundation to answer the 3 foundational questions.

ii.                   It?s also internally and externally consistent.

iii.                  Finally there are lots of evidences that support Christianity?s
central claims.

III.             Reasoning to Christianity from Ground Zero

1.      Dealing with the Atheist

a.       The atheist worldview is self-contradictory

i.                     It cannot account for knowledge, reality, or morality,
thus the atheist has no basis for justifying anything.

ii.                   You cannot logically say, ?There is no God? because you
cannot know all things. You would have to be God in order to absolutely know

iii.                  At best one can say there?s a possibility of a god since
they do not know all things.

b.      God Exist[9]

i.                     Without God we can we could not account for knowledge,
reality, or morality.

ii.                   There is too much order in the universe (e.g., The Anthropic

iii.                  No other view of God can make sense of what is going on
in our universe.

c.       It takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian

2.      Dealing with the Skeptic

a.       The Bible is reliable[10]

i.                     There is great historical, archeological, and scientific
evidence to confirm the reliability of the Bible.

ii.                   The Bible has never been changed throughout the years.
The Bible has more manuscripts than any ancient source in the world to confirm
its consistency.

iii.                  The Bible gives us a reliable record of the teachings
of Jesus Christ.

b.      Jesus Claimed to Be Both Fully Human and Fully God

i.                     The fulfillment of prophecy in the Bible confirms this

ii.                   His miraculous and sinless life

iii.                  His resurrection

iv.                 We know that the Bible is from God because Jesus said it
was the inspired word of God.

c.       What About Other Religions and etc?

i.                     Other religions are contradictory in some form or fashion.

ii.                   All road don?t led to the same place

iii.                  The testimonies of Christians worldwide show the power
of God.

3.      Dealing with the Intellectual

a.       Sometimes the problem with the intellectual is what has been learn
about the Bible doesn?t connect with the heart.

i.                     They understand the message of the Bible but they aren?t
putting it into practice.

ii.                   They know what they are doing but continue to sin

b.      Try to avoid intellectual conversations and deal with their heart

i.                     Some intellectuals will hide behind their intellect so
their sinful lives won?t be exposed.

c.       It?s important to be patient and build a friendship

i.                     Our lives sometime act as the gospel for people.

IV.              Concluding Remarks

1.      C.S. Lewis said, ?I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun
has risen, not only because I see it, but because I see everything else.?

a.       Not only does Christianity make sense because we can account for anything,
but through it we truly see everything because there?s a God that exist who
gives us true freedom through Jesus Christ.[11]


Checklist for Defending the Faith[12]



?But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an
answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).?


I.          &n
bsp;         Key intellectual sins committed by people are[13]

1.      Arbitrariness

a.       Ask yourself the following question when the unbeliever is arguing
against Christianity ?Is this argument arbitrary??

i.                     First type of arbitrariness is mere opinion: Opinion
s are just opinions, they?re not truth. People have no basis for their opinions.
Basic opinions aren?t relevant. Ask them what their evidence is for their view.
Opinions are academically worthless.

ii.                   Second type is relativism: Someone may say ?That?s true
for you but not true for me.? The problem with this argument is if all things
are truly relative and everyone is right then no one can be wrong. If everything
is truly relative then no one has any basis for calling anything right or wrong.

iii.                  Third type is ignorant conjectures (i.e., a guess or assumption
based on prejudice or ignorance): Some people make claims without evidence (e.g.,
arguments that the Bible isn?t reliable). An unbeliever may say ?How do we know
what was written back then is in our Bibles today??

iv.                 Final type is unargued bias: Even if you show the unbeliever
enough evidence for the consistency of the Bible the unbeliever will still have
a problem with miracles because in his (or her) mind miracles are impossible.
They rationalize ?There are no such things as miracles? in advance without any proof
of this. They assume this in advanced. In order to know absolutely that there
are no miracles you would have to know all things (i.e., you would have to be
God to know this). They tend to have an unspoken bias without proof.

b.      Ask yourself the next question ?Is this argument consistent??

c.       Ask yourself this third question ?What is the consequence of this argument??
What is the fruit of this tree (Luke 6:43-44)

d.       Final question is ?What are the preconditions of this argument??

i.                     In other words what would have to be true in order for
a particular argument to be true. Some unbelievers believe in the Big Bang theory.
In order for this to make sense there has to be an intelligent designer. Something
can?t come from nothing.

2.      Inconsistencies

a.       Ask yourself the following questions when the unbeliever is arguing
against Christianity ?Are there logical fallacies??

b.      Ask yourself this question ?Are there any contradictory beliefs?

i.                     On one hand your professor may believe that our behavior
is determined by antecedent factors and is predictable, if we knew all those
factors. On his worldview there are no such things as free will, yet when you
take a test in his class he trust that you will freely choose not to cheat and
choose to study hard.

ii.                    If he were consistent in his view cheating would be ok
given that you don?t have free will.           

c.       Ask yourself ?Is there any behavior that betrays his beliefs??

i.                     Someone may argue that there are no moral absolutes and
then condemn murders and rapist.


[1] Epistemology is the theory of knowledge (how do we know what we know is
true or what is the basis of an individuals opinion), or the study of the nature
and limits of human knowledge.

[2] Metaphysics is the general term for the study of existence. It is the study
of the nature, structure, and origin of what exist. Finally it is the study
of reality (what makes things real).

[3]Ethics is someone?s code of conduct (how we should live our lives). Ethics
is the application of both epistemology and metaphysics. It is the study of
right and wrong/good and bad actions and attitudes.

[4] A great lecture on how Paul dealt with their presuppositions and converted
unbelievers is, ?Connecting Jerusalem with Athens: The Place of Worldview i
n Apologetics,? by Dr. Robert Kurka.

[5] James Sire, The Universe Next Door (4th Ed.) Pg. 17.

[6] Dr. Robert Kurka, ?Connecting Jerusalemwith Athens: The Place of Worldview in
Apologetics.? Purchase the 2007 Apologetics Conference audio set at www.ip and see the notes on this at


[7] GaryDemar, Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L.
Bahnsen, Pg. 144

[8] We are not arguing for theism in general, we are specifically arguing for
the God of Christianity.

[9] Again the specific God of Christianity.

[10] No other religious book is accurate like the Bible.

[11] For additional information on Christian Apologetics please email me at Ch or see our website at

[12] This section is based on the article, ?Apologetics in Practice (Part 1),?
by Dr. Greg Bahnsen. It can be found at This was also based
on his lecture called ?Defending the Christian Worldview Against All Opposition.?

[13] Go through this checklist mentally when dealing with the unbeliever.

{jdownload Dealing With the Atheist, Skeptic & Intellectual.ppt} Power Point: Helping the skeptic and the atheist. Click here. {/jdownload}

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