Ask Greg Koukl (February 10-14, 2020)

Hi Greg.

In your experience, you could indicate the five greatest and most difficult objections that people who do not believe in Jesus Christ raise.

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@scaryreasoner thank you so much for you response and love that paragraph you wrote. I think that pretty much sums up that line of thinking. Really appreciate your time.

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Wow, this is good!

Karl, the trends of the culture can be a bit daunting in light of clear scriptural teaching about the Christian view of reality. There is a temptation many Christians have to present a “kinder and gentler” version that seems to fit better with the “culture of diversity” and with relativism. This, I think, is what’s happening in what has come to be known as ”progressive Christianity.”

In a diverse culture, the challenge we face is that Christianity simply seems to be out of step with more “enlightened” trends. Keep in mind, though, that this has always been the case for Christianity. 2000 years ago Christian views and Christian values were vigorously countercultural. There was no attempt made by Christians, though, to try to form-fit Christianity to the culture’s ideas, to blend into the cultural backdrop. Yes, Paul did say he would become all things to all men in order that by all means he might win some (1 Cor. 9:22). Yet he was speaking only of morally neutral, cultural trends that didn’t compromise the deep truth of scripture.

In the same way, we should blend into the culture that we find ourselves in as much as possible in non-moral areas that don’t compromise the basic truths of the Bible. Christianity simply does not fit in a relativistic view of the world. Nor does such a view provide any meaningful grounds for respecting the personal rights of individuals.

I realize that in our culture today taking exception with another person’s view is defined as dehumanizing, as “violating the person.” However, the relativistic view provides undergirding that impulse provides absolutely no basis for us to respect anyone. Only the Christian worldview based on the idea that there is a God who grounds objective morality and who made human beings in His image can do that.

This is the conversation we need to have with others in a gracious, genial, but direct fashion. We can show that Christianity is, as I like to put it, “the best explanation for the way things are” by demonstrating with kindness and sound reason that truth is not relative, and there is a God who grounds human purpose, meaning, and value. The current ethic simply cannot do it. Those who try, have their “feet firmly planted in mid-air.”

There is a wonderful section in the article “Creating a Culture of Resilience” that was featured in Christianity Today, August 2006. Author Mark Sayers writes this:

“True relevance to this culture will not come by accommodating its demands, but by developing the kinds of people who can resist them. If we can cultivate resilience rooted in the Gospel, able to withstand even tremendous scorn and pressure, we may yet have a posture that will be effective for mission in the post-Christian West—once our neighbors’ impossible dreams of utopia without restraint come to their inevitable, disappointing end.”

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Dylan, my question of your agnostic friend would be, “Why are you convinced that we can’t know what happens when we die until we die?” Your next step will depend on his answer.

It may be that he’s convinced we can’t know anything unless science confirms it. There are a number of problems with this view. First, it’s self-refuting since the statement itself—“we can’t know anything unless science confirms it”—is a statement held to be true by those who believe it, yet cannot itself be confirmed by science. The view commits suicide—to use the language in Tactics —since it cannot fulfill its own demand for legitimacy.

Second, there are a host of things we must know to be true by other means than science in order for science to get going in the first place. That includes the truth of the basic reliability of our senses, the truth of reason and logic, the truth of inference, the truth of cause and effect, the truth of the uniformity of causes in a natural world, etc., etc.

Finally, science has in fact weighed in on this issue, in a certain sense. There is a massive amount of scientific research that has been done on near death experiences (NDEs). I don’t mean popular bestsellers you find on the rack at the drugstore. I mean serious, peer-reviewed, scientific analyses that lend a tremendous amount of evidential credibility to the idea that our souls are separate from our bodies and can be in other physical locations and, it appears, in a nonphysical dimension in a way that can be actually tested.

I recommend you take a close look on the book Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality by philosophers J.P. Moreland and Gary Habermas. Pay special attention to the documentation of what are known as “remote viewing” events.

Although I understand your friend’s doubt about knowing what happens when we die, there are good reasons why such unmitigated skepticism is not justified. Also, I don’t really understand the comfort he takes in his conviction. It reminds me of the person who refuses to go to a doctor because he might find out he has a deadly disease. There is an odd sort of comfort in that ignorance, I guess, until the truth is finally known. By then, though, it may be too late.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this! I really appreciate it and look forward to using your suggestions in my conversations. I’m also looking forward to reading that book! God bless!

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