Ah! Well if I make it across the pond I will certainly find and enjoy some Jammie Dodgers!
@Keith_Moore, I’m glad you asked me directly. I was wanting to share but needed to wait until someone posted so it wasn’t just me talking to myself because that’s never good. To answer #2 well I need to share a bit of my background.
I grew up in church and by growing up in the church, I mean every time the doors were open, we were there. I know a lot of people with this same upbringing and many walk away from the church when they are of age, but my story is the opposite. I knew, somewhere deep within me, that this was real, true, and somehow alive. But, if you asked me to prove it or to somehow show it, I could not have done so. It’s at this point that I used to be really embarrassed about my story because academics and intellect have always been very important to me, but here I had nothing – just something within me saying, “This is true. I know it’s true, but… how do I know it’s true?” I don’t know if you’ve had that experience but it’s quite frustrating. Luckily, I came across Alvin Plantinga’s Reformed Epistemology, but more on that in a minute.
Fast-forward to my final semester in graduate school and I stumbled upon William Lane Craig. The church I was attending hosted the “On Guard” Conference and I found myself drinking out of a firehose. I’d never encountered Christianity presented so sound and logical, and again something deep within me was stirred. I began to read everything I could get my hands on around this subject and then I found dozens and dozens of YouTube videos of lectures and debates and Q&A sessions and the like. I simply couldn’t get enough philosophy, theology, and apologetics.
I now had reason to support my belief, but that gave rise to another issue. It made me an evidentialist and I didn’t want to be one. The reason being is that most Christians in history, until the rise of textual criticism and modern cosmology, didn’t have any sort of evidence to hang their hats on and most Christians in hostile and remote parts of the world today don’t have access the evidence either. I certainly didn’t want to say Christians throughout the ages were irrational in their belief. There had to be a way to rationally know that Christianity was true apart from arguments and evidence. This is were Reformed Epistemology came in. RE says, if I can succinctly summarize it without butchering it (tall task), we are rationally justified in believing our experiences as true and accurate until we are presented a defeater argument that overpowers our experience. This meant that the experiences that told me Christianity was true were completely rational to believe and hold. This was so freeing!
With all that background laid out, here’s how I answer question 2: I believe in the existence of God and in Jesus because I have personally and powerfully experienced his presence. And, I can show that the evidence scattered throughout the universe points us to Him.
Question 3 is a little difficult for me to answer because I’ve read this book multiple times, but I can share how I did use it the first time I read it. I read this chapter for the first time about 4 years ago and it inspired me to learn more thoroughly basic logic, and more specifically logical fallacies. In conversations, I would catch the bad reasoning and try to point it out. Sometimes I would say, “That’s the (blank) fallacy, so I don’t think what you’re saying is right.” That had about a 50/50 winsome rate.
Over time I began not calling out the fallacies but would just think “That’s not a valid argument. How do I respond to make them realize it on their own and point them to Jesus?” That was really hard at the beginning, but the more I studied HOW the RZIM speakers engaged with questioners the better I became. In fact, @Andy_Bannister was probably the most influential to my development in this area. There’s one video that stands above and beyond from a lecture he gave that you can see HERE. The answer is within the first 5-6 mins, and if you have time, I’d recommend watching the whole thing.