Matthias McMahon (McFormtist) is a blog contributor at presuppositional apologetics website, Choosing Hats. He has agreed to this written interview regarding how to answer common objections against the Christian faith. We hope that the material that is provided will better equip you in your own apologetic endeavors.
Matthias, thank you for spending time to be interviewed.
1. How do you know that the Christian God exists?
There are a few ways this question can be answered, and this is because the question can mean different things: 1) What gives rise to my knowledge that God exists? 2) How do I confirm my knowledge that God exist? 3) What facts/experiences corroborate my knowledge? I’ve listed these in order of importance, and I’ll answer them all as briefly as I can.
1) According to Romans 1:18-20, knowledge that God exists is a feature of being created in God’s image. As God knows Himself, so in a similar way all those created in His image know God. In summary, God is the primary reason I know God.
2) I know that I know God exists because the Bible tells me so. God not only created me with knowledge of Him built in, but has given me his Word concerning it. Romans 1 spells this out rather clearly, and the rest of the Bible presupposes this to be the case.
3) In short, the intelligibility of nature; all experience in general, and every experience in particular. All those things I can perceive and comprehend, or else wonder at – these all testify to the Creator. As Psalm 19:1 proclaims, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” I know the Creator exists because I can perceive what he has done in nature.
2. What makes you think the Bible is true?
The Bible is the Word of the God who created the universe (Genesis 1). It is the Word of the One who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), and who is Good (Psalm 136:1). From those inferences alone, I am convinced that the Bible is true, because it follows perfectly. But Jesus goes even further to confirm this when he says, “Your Word is truth.”(John 17:17) So, not only does God never lie, but says that he only tells truth, because his Word *is* truth. I read what the Bible says, and I believe it. This is because I have been given faith by God to believe it. So, primarily, I think the Bible is true because it says so itself – God says so, Himself. Secondarily, the Bible gives a consistent, thorough, and sufficient narrative of all my experience.
3. How can a good God allow such evil and suffering?
First, it must be affirmed that God is, in fact, Good, as well as All-Powerful (Romans 1:20) and Perfect in Knowledge (Job 37:16), because this is what the Bible says. The Bible also says there is such thing as evil, and we see evil nearly everywhere. So it will not do to minimize either evil or God (either in power, knowledge, or goodness) in order to answer this difficulty, because to do so would be to reject the Bible’s authority, and consequently our only hope of finding a resolution to suffering.
God will put an end to all evil in Divine Retribution (Isaiah 13:11). This is his Word that he will do this. Wherever evil occurs, it is never an end in itself, but is awaiting trial. Nor is evil ever purposeless (regardless of any immediate purpose *we* may or may not see in it). The Bible gives a few different reasons for the present existence of Evil: 1) It remains in order to serve as a contrast against God’s righteousness (Romans 3:5-6). 2) It remains while God gathers together his sheep from the world (2 Peter 3:1-9). 3) It remains as a warning to all those who are in need of repentance and a judgment on those who have not repented (Luke 13:1-5).To summarize, God allows evil to remain for our good, and for his own glory.
4. With all the religions in the world, how can you be so arrogant as to claim to have the right one?
To begin with, let’s agree that if I do in fact have the right religion, it is not arrogant to say so. Putting aside my tone of voice when I say it, to merely claim that I have the right religion, if it is in fact true, is not arrogant. But that’s the very issue, isn’t it? The question assumes that no one can know if he has the right religion. It might even assume there is no single “right” religion. Now that we see where the question is coming from, let’s put aside the garnish and answer the real question being asked: how do I know Christianity is the right religion, and that all the others are wrong?
As a Christian, I answer primarily that Christianity is the religion revealed by God himself in the Bible and the events recorded therein throughout history from the beginning of time (Hebrews 1:1-2). God constantly affirms the truth of what he has revealed, and so I am perfectly justified in merely taking God’s word for it.
What non-Christians might see as “arrogant” is that I have come to this conclusion, having not studied many of the other religions out there beforehand. How can I know Christianity is right unless I know the others are wrong? Non-Christians must work toward “truth” from this angle. In order to know that other religions are wrong, they must know everything about all the other religions. There are countless religions, and variations of religions, and so they see little hope of knowing at all. This is why many take the agnostic (or “sophisticated, intellectually lazy”) route to religions. Those who take a strong atheistic stance are forced to reject other religions simply out of hand.
Suffice it to say that I don’t need to know everything 1 + 1 *doesn’t* equal, in order to know that it *does* equal 2. If anything, knowing 2 is the right answer will help me detect all the wrong answers. The non-Christians’ rejection of the right answer (the Bible) leaves them no hope of detecting the wrong answer, and no basis for identifying it as actually wrong.
5. What evidence do you have that Jesus resurrected from the dead?
When Jesus walked the earth, he was accompanied by 12 men he spent a lot of time with, 4 of whom wrote of their time with him (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). They wrote of his life and ministry and his fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. And so they wrote from their own experience, and not only that, but the words they wrote were by divine inspiration (1 Tim. 3:16-17). Divinely-Inspired Eye-Witness testimony, as it were. The writings of the apostle Paul are included here as well.
The effects of this event are seen in the sudden growth of Christianity from the first century, and its continuity of such growth to this day. Men who weren’t followers of Jesus (and who were not divinely inspired) wrote, albeit briefly, of one called Christ. People from nearly every tribe and tongue and nation have heard of this Christ, and many believe. This constitutes direct fulfillment of the promises made in the Bible concerning Jesus.
6. The Bible is written by men and full of errors and contradictions.
The Bible is indeed written by men. Were that alone the case, it might be subject to error. But, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” So it is also the case that the words, written by men, were given under inspiration of the Spirit of God, whose knowledge is perfect and who cannot lie.
If the allegation is that since the Bible is written by men, and therefore it has contradictions and errors, then it is not necessarily true, since men can write true and non-contradictory things. But usually this allegation is accompanied by examples which, in truth, are the result of wishful thinking and careless reading. As an example (one I’ve actually been given in the past), Proverbs 26:4-5: “4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.” The beginning of verse 4 says, “Do not answer a fool…” and the beginning of verse 5 says, “Answer a fool…” and these are allegedly contradictory. It’s really difficult to suspect that the author missed these if he meant to give opposing opinions. But this isn’t the author’s intent. In fact he is giving what we presuppositionalists affectionately refer to as the “two-step method of apologetics.” Step 1: Answer the antagonist on his own terms to elicit an inconsistency, and step 2: Answer him on the Bible’s terms, not the antagonist’s own.
The list(s) of alleged contradictions is about as long as there are letters in the Bible, so this example should suffice for now. Other examples make take more effort and careful exegesis, but the principle to keep in mind is this: if you perceive a contradiction, you are not reading the text consistently.
7. How can you believe that the Bible is true since evolution is a fact? Doesn’t science and Christianity conflict?
I believe the Bible is true regardless of the “truth status” of any evolutionary theory. I won’t quibble much over “theory,” except to say there’s a reason that word is used rather than “fact.” “Inference to the best explanation” attempts to look for consistent explanations, or “theories” for natural phenomena, and so “theory” speaks more to its function rather than its truth quality.
In any case, evolution does not provide an intelligible basis for living in one way or another. There is no basis for human value or rights under evolution. There is no basis for right and wrong, and thus no basis for law or outrage when someone breaks the law. On evolution, the natural world is all that exists, and so there is nothing above nature to arbitrate between good and evil. When you look at the world, we see people living as though there does actually exist a standard for good and evil, and some even say that this spans all cultures. This inconsistency is a testimony to the falseness of evolution.
Evolutionary Theory may be “a science,” but it is not synonymous with all scientific inquiry in general. Whenever any of the sciences comes to a conclusion that contradicts the truths of Christianity, science is being done incorrectly. Indeed, unless science is done under the assumption of the truths of Christianity, it is not being done correctly. If “science” is “discovery and explanation of the world God created,” then there is no necessary conflict between the two. Furthermore, Christianity provides the only intelligible basis for performing science in an ethical manner.