What If I Don't Have Answers?

An extended version of this question would be, “How do I defend my belief regarding creation when I know I can’t answer all the questions people ask?  In fact, I can’t even answer half of them!

Countless Christians feel this way when considering getting into a discussion with a skeptic regarding the creation vs. evolution debate.  Many of them are fearful of any confrontations because they have little or no scientific background and don’t want to look foolish when confronted with challenging questions.  They desperately do not want to appear naïve and uneducated.  So what’s the solution?  For all too many, it is to simply avoid these situations altogether.  I understand the reaction, but have a better idea.  I call it “Simply ask questions.”

I’m going to steal a segment from my book, “Creation & Evolution”.  I don’t think the author will mind.  :)

<Beginning of Book Segment>

Let’s consider a typical confrontation that might occur between a Christian and a skeptic.

Skeptic:           “Evolution is a fact and the Bible is just mythology!”

Christian:         “I don’t believe that. I think creation is true and the Bible is the inspired Word of God.”

Skeptic:           “Prove it! Give me one fact that proves creation is true or that the Bible is actually from God.”

Christian:         “Well, I don’t know that I can prove it, but that’s what I believe.”

Skeptic:           “Just as I suspected. Well, you can have your faith, but I live in the real world and I’m sticking with science!”

This type of conversation results in the Christian feeling very defeated and dejected and they will be much less likely to share any comments about their beliefs with a skeptic in the future. I realize that there are a number of Christians that can handle themselves just fine in a situation such as this, but they are admittedly more of the exception than the rule. Let’s revisit this conversation, but this time we’ll have the Christian strategically change their response by simply asking follow-up questions.

Skeptic:           “Evolution is a fact and the Bible is just mythology!”

Christian:         “What do you mean by ‘evolution’?”

Skeptic:           “That life arose from chemicals billions of years ago and slowly evolved into every life form that we see today.”

Christian:         “How do you know evolution is a fact?”

Skeptic:           “Well, all the scientists believe it!”

Christian:         “How do you know that all scientists believe it?”

Skeptic:           “Well, all real scientists believe it!”

Christian:         “How do you define a ‘real’ scientist?”

Skeptic:           “Anyone who believes in evolution.”

Christian:         “Isn’t that circular reasoning?”

Skeptic:           “Well, you believe that God created everything magically out of nothing in six days and made Adam and Eve in some mystical garden. Yeah, that’s really believable!”

Christian:         “You know, I actually haven’t said anything about what I believe. You, however, have made some very serious claims and I’m just asking you to give me reasons for why you believe they are true. So why do you believe the Bible is just mythology?”

Skeptic:           “Because it’s full of errors and contradictions!”

Christian:         “Could you give me some examples?”

Skeptic:           “Well, there are tons of them!”

Christian:         “Great, then it should be fairly easy to share an example or two.”

Skeptic:           “Well, I can’t think of them right now.”

Christian:         “Could you tell me what the general storyline of the Bible is from beginning to end… just a thirty-sixty second overview?”

Skeptic:           “Well, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it.”

Christian:         “Tell me, if you can’t think of any actual errors or contradictions and you don’t even know what it is all about, why do you have such a strong opinion against it? Are you sure that you are not simply reciting someone else’s view as opposed to your own, well thought-out opinion?”

A much different scenario and it didn’t even require the Christian to “have all the answers.” In fact, they didn’t have to give any answers! What we just observed is that the skeptic was making what are called “truth claims”—general or specific statements about the world that they contend are valid. The Christian, on the other hand, was not making counter-claims, in which case he/she would need to be able to back them up, but simply asking for reasons as to why the truth claims are trustworthy or reasonable. Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason ministry calls this the “Columbo Tactic,” after the famous 1970s television series, in which actor Peter Falk played a brilliant, but bumbling-in-appearance homicide detective, named Lieutenant Columbo.

Now I am not at all suggesting that we don’t need to have answers. On the contrary. I am simply pointing out that there are ways to handle conversations even in situations where you are not well-prepared to answer the skeptic’s tough questions. But what if the skeptic does know a few examples of alleged errors or contradictions? How do we respond then if we don’t know the answer? Surprise, surprise, I have a few thoughts on this, too.

<End of Book Segment>

In the book, we go into a lot more detail and discuss various scenarios, but are limited on space here in this brief article.  You can also learn more specifically from session #12 of our “Foundations in Creation” DVD seminar series.  If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you!

 

If you have any further questions about  God, creation, Christianity or the Bible, don’t hesitate to contact us.  You can even arrange a FREE ENGAGEMENT or seminar at your church, school, conference or camp.

Author:  Jay Seegert  (Co-Founder & Principal Lecturer, Creation Education Center)

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