Over the years, I have had a number of failures in my discussions with people who do not believe the Bible. And of course those discussions are about the creation account in Genesis—something church leaders who want to just talk about Jesus in the New Testament miss. I say “Jesus in the New Testament” because John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1 teach us that the creation account in Genesis is about Jesus.
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15-17 NLT
In the “The Civil War Battle Series: Gettysburg,” [YouTube video] Mark DePue showed what I have learned from my failures; but was not able to neatly articulate. At the end of the lecture, he had a table titled “Lee’s Strategic Record”—showing various battles that Lee fought.1 The table showed how a commander can be strategically offensive or defensive. But within that strategy, a commander can be tactically offensive or defensive. Being strategically offensive, but tactically defensive is going into the enemy’s territory—but once you are there, preparing your defenses and letting the enemy come to you.
I am not a military strategist. And we certainly do not want to think of the person that we are having the discussion with as an enemy. But for biblical creation apologetics, I have found being strategically offensive and tactically defensive works best. And I have had more productive conversations since doing this.
What does this mean?
It means you state your position in broad terms.
- You state that you believe the creation account in Genesis—or just state that you believe the Bible.
- If you do make a case, you make your case using big picture, presuppositional (Nuclear Strength) apologetics, which I learned from Dr. Jason Lisle.
- You point out that according to Darwinian evolution, we are nothing more than just another animal engaged in a battle of survival; and how this is totally inconsistent with even the concepts of reason and morality.
- You may go further and point out how the basis for Darwinian evolution is philosophical materialism—matter and energy are all that exist. This means that we are just matter and energy—just a bunch of chemicals. So our very thoughts are nothing more than chemical reactions following the laws of physics and chemistry. This is not only inconsistent with the concepts of reason and morality; it is inconsistent with the concepts of free will and consciousness. Even as this other person is debating you, what they are saying is just a result of chemical reactions that they do not control any more than you control chemicals reacting once you put them in a beaker. It is all chemistry and physics.
- Help them to understand the ramifications of what they believe.
Do not make arguments regarding the fossil record; irreducible complexity; failed proofs of Darwinian evolution such as “junk” DNA, vestigial organs, Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man, or the peppered moth; or my personal favorite argument—the problem of creating enough genetic information through genetic mutations and natural selection to go from a “simple” single celled organism to all of life on this planet.
That will just give them the opportunity to use rescuing devices. Keep these arguments ready. But let them come to you with their arguments. Then you give them the answers. But if you set up the discussion with presuppositional apologetics, the discussion may stay more focused on that.
And if you are prepared, you can listen for the logical fallacies in what they are saying. Again, the Nuclear Strength Apologetics will help with this. But commonly used fallacies are ad hominem attacks, straw man arguments, appeal to authority, appeal to majority, no true Scotsman, affirming the consequent, and equivocation and extrapolation.
Darwinian evolution itself is built on equivocation and extrapolation. This is what Darwinists do when they use examples such as a bacteria becoming immune to antibiotics as “proof of evolution.” If they state ideas that you used to believe, tell them that. Then tell them why you no longer accept those ideas.
I used to be an old earth creationist, bordering on being a theistic evolutionist. I was never taught that I did not have to accept those positions. And some great ministers that I respected held those beliefs.
But the key is listening—something not natural for me. Find out where they are coming from—what their issues are. Address what they are saying. Then meet them where they are. That is what Jesus did.
1. Lee’s Strategic Record