Facebook debate with the Bible and beer consortium


(Dennis Fuller) #1

Hi everyone, in order to keep my apologetic skills sharp, I frequently go on a Facebook group called “Friends of the Bible and Beer Consortium.”

The group is designed to be a place where skeptics and Christians can interact, but I find myself usually outnumbered by skeptics, and the Christians who attempt to join in are often not well-versed in apologetics. If you feel led, check out the group on Facebook and see if you can change the thinking of the skeptics.
Following is a sample thread from one of my discussions. What else might I have said? The name of person writing is in boldface.

In Christ,

Dennis Fuller

Andrew Why would someone live like Jesus if they didn’t believe God exists? Sounds like the mysterious land shark I keep hearing about.

Me Andrew, If you don’t believe in God, you lose more than Jesus-- you lose any possibility of Life having meaning. Several atheists, including Jean-Paul Sartre understood this, he famously declared that life was “meaningless and absurd.” Which, in my mind, is a proposition more frightening than the existence of hell.

Arron That’s really sad that you feel that way, Dennis, and I’m not trying to be glib. I genuinely mean it. I find it sad when I hear theists claim that without Jesus life would have no meaning.
I, and every atheist I know, find great meanings in our lives. We don’t tie One True Meaning up with a deity - we find it in life itself. It doesn’t have to have meaning to anyone else.

Me Arron, we all enjoy temporal (in the moment) meaning in our lives, but if there is no God what could provide a transcendent (ongoing, permanent, toward an absolute goal) --meaning?

Arron Why is a transcendent meaning necessary? Why is temporal meaning not sufficient?

Me Arron, you can certainly believe that temporal meaning is sufficient. Buddhists do, and that’s why suicide for them is a ritualized and honorable act. If life has only temporary meaning, and it gets really bad, you just quit.

Arron As much as I’d love to discuss suicide with you, and may we will bring it up soon, I’m trying to keep on topic.

Me Arron, Yes. But keep in mind that Christians do not think of Christianity as a social construct. To put it simply, we didn’t make the rules, God did.

Arron Dennis, fair enough. Thanks to you guys for the chat. See, we don’t always have to poke the bear. :stuck_out_tongue:

Aaron Dennis, meaning is internal. It’s subjective. The universe can succumb to heat death and there exist no god and no afterlife and that won’t change the fact that my life has meaning to me.

Me Aaron, we can all have joy and deep meaning in particular moments. But what about the full arc of your life? Even if you achieve every ideal that you can imagine and get exactly the life that you want, what purpose does it have if human history is meaningless? I believe that human history does have meaning because of God-- God gives a purpose to human history.
Several atheist philosophers including Sartre, Camus, Russell–have declared that life has no meaning and only atheists are brave enough to realize that fact. I consider them to be half right–if there is no God, human history has no meaning, purpose or goal. I believe that there is a God and that humanity is moving towards an epic conclusion. Those who reject God are only waiting on the heat death of the universe.


(Andrea L) #2

@Dennis_Fuller,

Sorry to start with this, but first of all I’d consider removing the others’ names. These seem to be private conversations (even if in a group).

General guidelines :slight_smile: to my comment:
I’m an ESOL, so everything I write I mean to be written in the most humble, polite, and supportive way. I’m sincerely sorry if it sounds otherwise for a native speaker.
What I write here talks about how I see these things, and I can be wrong in anything. So take it or leave it, or in other words “Test all things; hold fast what is good.”

I think any fruitful confrontation or debate is only possible if the parties can leave their emotions at the door. Because once those kick in they take the conversation over. Sometimes it’s worth to wait with an answer to make sure it’s not influenced by emotions, but the Holy Spirit. If the other party’s emotions kick in sometimes it’s better to leave the conversation until everybody calms down, especially if it’s happening in person.

I understand your eagerness to bring Jesus to them. Getting to know Jesus might be a long journey, with several encounters with various Christians, all adding a bit. For me it was 10 years faithfullness of my friend. She never directly condemned my acts, she just asked me questions. Such as “Are you sure, it is indeed for your benefit?”. “Have you thought how this long term will effect you?”. Of course most of the time I got frustrated about these questions, but long term they worked :slight_smile:
What I have found as a very good tool to help others is asking open questions. By pondering on those questions they might find answers for themselves which brings them one step closer to God. The trickiness of this is that it should be tailor-made - I have a friend who came to Jesus when was confronted with his sins and sinful nature. For me it was totally different. We need to seek the Holy Spirit for guidence.

In your responses you describe your own views e.g. “Which, in my mind, is a proposition more frightening than the existence of hell.” But it’s yours and it’s unlikely they’d connect to it if they don’t relate to it. You preassumed they want life to have meaning. What if not? What if they do not care about life having a meaning, or they haven’t considered that, or they’re at this point are still too afraid to admit they miss that. Getting to know more about them and their worldviews makes it easier to come up with more specific questions. So I’d encourage you to ask them questions about how they see those things they come up with. It doesn’t necesserily come easy, so don’t feel discouraged if it does not produce the expected outcome for first. Try to reflect back on what they said or asked, and try to leave out presuppositions from the questions, giving them space to come to the conclusion themselves. It’s more powerful if these revelations come from indside from them.

Questions you might ask are like “What makes you believe that God does not exists?” “What evidence would you accept as proof of His existence?” And according to the answer going on, whatever direction the Holy Spirit shows you, e.g. getting around to morality and meaning.
“Why is a transcendent meaning necessary? Why is temporal meaning not sufficient?” These questions they asked are good ones, from their perspective, coming up with similar from your side would be powerful.

I might be utterly wrong, but I feel you shouldn’t try to convince them that you are right and they are wrong (this is how the conversation sounds to me, as an ESOL), because it is impossible on emotional level. If someone pushes me to accept their views I reject it without thinking, instinctively, and that’s I think how most of us are hardwired. And where are instincts there are emotions. Try to engage in open, unbiased conversations with them and let them (guide them gently) to discover themselves that there is more than temporary meanings in life.

I hope it helps a bit. You are brave doing this :slight_smile:


(Dennis Fuller) #3

Thank you for your observations, Andrea. The comments that these men make in this public Facebook forum tend to be very aggressive, I have to watch myself carefully lest I respond in an uncharitable way.

What is your original language? Is very gratifying that people of many nations and cultures have been gathered together by RZIM. Jesus’ command that we go and make disciples of all nations is being fulfilled here.


(Andrea L) #4

Hi @Dennis_Fuller, I have just found this video, Ravi is speaking “What about those who don’t believe in God” https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yZLzLVAUJiU


(Bill Brander) #5

In last week’s “ask” forum, Matt Mittelberg’s reply to my ask how to evangelise via social media said, which I agree with:
“The second extreme is to spend all of our time arguing with atheists online. In my experience, when you encounter an atheist online, it’s very unlikely you’re going to be able to change their mind or convince them in a social media debate. It’s far more productive to have a conversation in person. So if someone you know interacts with you on a post, ask to continue the conversation in person. And if it’s someone that you don’t know, my advice would be to only continue the conversation if it seems fruitful.”
Hope that helps
Bill


(Dennis Fuller) #6

Thanks, Andrea!


(Matt Western) #7

On a related note, I liked this paragraph that @andrea.l wrote below, and I’m still really pondering it as it resonated with me.

Facebook and forums are one of the big ways people communicate nowadays, and yes Facebook brings out the worst in us as a society, and we tend to say things we’d never say to a person’s face. Having said that people, who are not willing to discuss religion face to face, are more comfortable discussing it online, and sometimes we are talking to people who would we’d never meet face to face - and it is hard to ignore insults (but for me it’s becoming easier once I realise that an insult is motivated by anger, and we need to respond with love). As it says in 1 John 3, don’t be surprised if the world hates you, the world hated Jesus first. People are not the enemy, the world system is against God.

The paragraph was here (below), and in particular I’m thinking more about how to ask a question of them that they cannot just push away. If the question is asked so that it’s very hard to push away, rather than forced upon them, then it’s more effective.

From the thread: Purpose of life = 'living life well' and passing on your genes