5 Tips for Talking with Skeptics

Talking with someone who is objecting to your Christian beliefs can be intimidating. We fear that we won’t be able to adequately answer the person’s objections and will look like a fool.

The intimidation and fear that a Christian feels is not unique. It is not as if Christians alone feel this way. Anyone whose beliefs (about any subject) are objected to will naturally feel this way.

In my (limited) experience, and having read books on the subject, I have found some useful tips for how to deal with such situations. I flatter myself as someone who knows a bit on the subject of Christian apologetics, but even if you don’t, I believe these tips will help you adequately deal with encountering objectors to your faith.

1) You are not Superman

Nobody knows everything, not even your objector. You should not feel obligated to know how to answer every objection. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to know as much as possible, but even if you spent every waking moment reading scholarly books and journal articles, there simply isn’t enough time to learn everything you would need to know in order to respond to every objection.

Likewise, remember that the success of Christendom does not rest on your shoulders. In some way, feeling as if it does is narcissistic. Christianity has lasted the trials of 2,000 years and will continue to do so if you blunder one conversation, even if that conversation is publicized. So, relax.

2) Ask the First Question

The first question you should ask any objector to your Christian faith is this: If Christianity were true and you could know it with 100% certainty, would you become a Christian?

Seems silly, right? Surely, any level-minded person would follow the truth wherever it leads. Not so. I was in dialogue with a well-known YouTube atheist recently and I asked him this very question. His response was, “If Christianity were true, I would have to reject it.”

In fairness he said this because he does not want to live forever. He would rather be annihilated than live eternally with God. He said if an eternal hell were his only other option that he might have to become a follower of Jesus.

The point is this: you may have lost the conversation before it ever began. Not all skeptics are rejecting Christianity because they find it hard to believe, though many do. And even if they became convinced in their minds, their hearts would not necessarily follow. Sometimes, all we can really do is share the gospel and pray. After all, it is God who saves, not us.

If someone answers the way that my skeptical friend did, there just simply isn’t much we can offer them. What could I say? If he doesn’t want it, he doesn’t want it. There are plenty of people who do want it and we should focus our efforts there. That may sound harsh, but time is precious and we cannot waste our efforts.

3) Ask More Questions

I’ve come to believe that a lot of times you don’t even have to have answers. You just have to have questions. That may sound strange, but consider that most people have not given much thought to why they believe what they believe, including non-religious people.

I recently spoke with author Greg Koukl about this. He has seen much fruit in his ministry simply by asking pointed questions. There are two important questions that you should ask repeatedly: (1) What do you mean by that? and (2) How do you know that?

The first question is about defining terms. Often times we speak past each other, getting nowhere in our conversations, because we are not talking about the same thing even if we are using the same words. The problem is that we do not agree on the definitions of the words we are using. Think about the word “fetus” in the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate. One side sees a human child and the other sees a clump of cells. This difference must be settled before the conversation can go anywhere.

The second question is about evidence and reason. If some one says “In this scientific age, we know miracles don’t happen,” I want to know how science has shown that. What scientific experiment has shown miracles to be impossible, or even improbable? I also want to know what the person means by “miracle,” how do they define the word?

By asking questions, you are shifting the burden. Now, it is on your objector to give a reason for what they believe and why they believe it. Take the stress off of yourself and just ask questions.

4) Don’t Get Sidetracked

It is not uncommon to be asked questions by skeptics like “Do you really think God flooded the whole earth and Noah survived on a boat?” “Aren’t there numerous errors and contradictions in the Bible?” And of course, everyone’s favorite, “What about dinosaurs?”

Here’s a thought: Who cares? What do the majority of these silly questions have to do with anything? Nothing. They are red herrings that distract from what really matters. What really matters? With respect to our skeptical friends, God’s existence and the Resurrection. If God exists and Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity is true. Everything else can be worked out. Everything else is secondary. If the objection does not directly relate to these two subjects, feel free to disregard it, or even cede the point.

I do this with the “The Bible has contradictions” objection. I believe in the innerancy of Scripture, but even if it were true that the Bible contained contradictions, that wouldn’t mean that God does not exist, or that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Not even close.

5) Be humble

The last thing we need is another pretentious know-it-all apologist. We are not called to win arguments in a spirit of superiority. We are called to win people to Christ in a spirit of love and truth. Our character matters just as much as (if not more than) our argumentation. In fact, sometimes a humble life lived in servitude to Jesus is the strongest apologetic we can give.

Conclusion

Talking with objectors to your faith can be intimidating, especially for an introvert. However, there is nothing to be afraid of. Remember: the fate of Christianity does not rest on your shoulders, try to ask as many questions as possible, don’t get sidetracked, and stay humble. I think you will find your conversations less stressful.

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Published by Haden Clark

Haden lives in North Texas with his wife, daughter, and three dogs.

28 thoughts on “5 Tips for Talking with Skeptics

  1. “even if it were true that the Bible contained contradictions, that wouldn’t mean that God does not exist, ”
    It would mean that the Bible cannot be relied on. Oh dear, what else have you got to support your belief?

    Liked by 4 people

      1. There’s more than one, many more. Add on to that stories that cannot be verified and an all pervading morality that is repugnant.
        All in all, enough to dismiss the book.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. In a trial if the witness is found lying on one point he is easily discredited for everything. The outcomes of biblical teaching is cringeworthy enough, let alone the hundreds of contradictions.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. First let’s just clear the air Hayden. “ aim to spread and defend the truth of Christianity” It is part of your mission statement if you didn’t recognize it. This is why you, a seasoned apologist claim would like to research the contradictions you already know (rebuttals, standing by) There are ample examples elsewhere. Do you aim to spread all of Christianity or just the true parts? The first cringeworthy teaching is “go ye into the world and spread my gospel”. Which has destroyed countless forms of existence with 1500 years of forced conversions by the sword. And as they “shake the dust off their feet” (such love) I know you know the social implications of that phrase. Immediately the teaching sets to divide humanity, while the first five commandments set loyalty to god over ethical behavior.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “This is why you, a seasoned apologist claim would like to research the contradictions you already know (rebuttals, standing by)”. Thank you for the compliment of being a “seasoned apologist,” though I wouldnt consider myself to be one. Also, you’re assuming my motives which are irrelevant and you couldn’t possibly know.

        “Do you aim to spread all of Christianity or just the true parts?” I believe Christianity is true, I aim to spread “mere Christianity,” thats is the core doctrines in their most general form.

        “The first cringeworthy teaching is “go ye into the world and spread my gospel”. Which has destroyed countless forms of existence with 1500 years of forced conversions by the sword.” It is hard for me to take this serious. If you think there is a logical connection between Jesus’ teaching in the Great Commission and “forced conversions by the sword,” I would love to see an exegesis of Matthew 28 that lends that application. No doubt, people have done horrendous things in the name of Christianity, but tracing this back to the Great Commission? Give me a break. The onus is on you to show the logical connection.

        If you think the verse that states “shake the dust off your feet” teaches something “cringeworthy,” again, I would love to hear your exegesis of that passage as well. You need to show that the authorial intent was to “divide humanity,” otherwise you’re placing an interpretation on the text that was never intended by the author and that is irrational.

        All in all, you’ve made some emotional assertions that have no logical connection to the teaching of Christianity.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The assumption that it was wisdom, through faith makes “mere Christianity” tolerable through the excuses.
        The symbolism is that by shaking off the dust from their feet, they are showing that those in that town didn’t receive the message of the kingdom of heaven and that makes them unworthy. Anyone that rejects Jesus’ message can never be worthy to inherit eternal life but only worthy of the wrath of God. It literally wasn’t good enough to spread on its own and had to be spread by men and adopted by a tyrannical government.
        Even the Bible says he has come to divide households and families. Is that part not cringeworthy enough?
        ”Which has destroyed countless forms of existence with 1500 years of forced conversions by the sword.” It is hard for me to take this serious . Really? The fact that everywhere Christianity planted its flag brought torture and horror and genocide isn’t evidence enough? Augustine certainly traces it back to the great commission and the words of Christ himself. The conversion of Europe and Latin America is unimaginable without the sword. Saint Augustine’s authorization of force on the Donatists came from the Bible “to compel them to come”, (among others) is evidence enough that the pride engendered by monotheism has to be masked by forced humility. In the end you must believe or burn in Hell, but I love you. That is the evangelical message even carried today.
        You know after a thousand plus years of near monopoly Christianity has not met a single objective. In any business in the world the CEO takes the blame. This is no different.
        Only through faith, that neat little play on the foibles of human psychology, can one not see the errant outcomes that has humanity in the monotheistic stall. Islam is no better. The root is rotten, and so are the branches.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Where does Jesus say that we should discriminate against, kill, or force people that do not believe? I’ll wait. Who does more for the suffering and poor in the world: religious people or nonrigious? I’ll wait.

        “It wasn’t good enough to spread on its own and had to be spread by men” Is that supposed to be a coherent thought? How else do ideas spread, besides by people? How do you think Christianity became so popular that it was adopted by the Roman government? Because it spread like wildfire for 3 centuries despite persecution. Your statement would be laughed at by historians.

        Once again, you’ve resorted to emotionalism, trying to paint Christianity as murderous and evil. Show where Jesus commanded such things. Show the stats on the charity of the religious vs non-religious. We’d all like to see.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much for this article. I have challenges to my faith almost every day in the workplace. (I work in a hospital) Very serious questions sometimes. I do the best I can and sometimes acknowledge I don’t know, but always offer to find the best answer I can.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am a pretty new Christian, but I see a man responding on here who’s only purpose is to prove himself right. I think many bible verses deals with men of his high stature. I like this one: Proverbs 18:2-3 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

        Like

  3. Hello, club here since Haden doesn’t like the evidence I give when it comes to his false claims. He can of course block this post too.

    “Jim, reference some of these “cringeworthy” biblical teachings and “hundreds of contradictions,” I’d love to research them. Thanks.”

    no, your claim of loving to research them isn’t true since you haven’t. A quite google of “bible contradictions” will get you all you want. You depend on willful ignorance, Haden.

    “Where does Jesus say that we should discriminate against, kill, or force people that do not believe? I’ll wait. Who does more for the suffering and poor in the world: religious people or nonrigious? I’ll wait.”

    now, I know you’ll block this.

    This is what JC says “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter,[c] not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks[d] one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    So, all of the commands to kill nonbelievers in the OT still stand.

    We also have this where your supposed savior does the killing

    “17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21 And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” – Revelation 19

    We also have this: “6 ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 27 But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’”” – Luke 19

    Who’s the “king”, Haden?

    as for this “Who does more for the suffering and poor in the world: religious people or nonrigious? I’ll wait.”” Both religious and non-religious people work together to help the suffering and poor. It is conservative Christians who do it only if they can force their religion onto people. For their help, the suffering and poor must listen to them and accept their tracts. And Christians aren’t the charitable you would claim since most of their charity goes to them and their churches, never seen anywhere outside of that lovely big sound system they buy for themselves, but all of that gets reported as charity even though it is no more than self-dealing. Why don’t the hundreds of churches in my area support the local Christian homeless mission so they don’t have to waste time fundraising and accepting money from people like me?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 1. You literally came back on a different account to continue ranting on my blog? Nice lol
      2. Find a biblical exegete that understands those verses to means that Christians should persecute non-believers, and I’ll delete my blog right now.
      3. Look up the statistics on charitable giving.
      4. Just more emotional assertions with no logic, no facts, no evidence, no reason.

      I’ll leave this one unblocked if it makes you feel better, but this is the only response you’re getting.

      Like

      1. “biblical exegete” – an expounder or textual interpreter, especially of scripture. aka, someone who makes up what they want the bible to say. No one needs this “exegete” when the bible says what it says quite clearly. But nice try to avoid that, Haden. All you have is “oh no, the words don’t mean what they literally say.” I do love Christians when they deny that their Christ tells them to follow the laws of the OT. They are desperate to avoid that inconvenience.

        I can look up the stats for charitable giving. Again, Haden, they don’t show how Christians self-deal when claiming charity.

        And again, more lies from Haden falsely claiming “emotional assertions with no logic, no facts, no evidence, no reason” My post is none of the sort but this is all Haden has, so he repeats it. He can’t support his accusations as usual. His actions do a great job of showing just how much a Christian will lie and ignore his bible.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. If your interepretation of those texts is correct, why didn’t Peter, James, John, the rest of the disciples, or Paul ever persecute non-believers? Why didn’t they submit themselves to persecution? Did the interpret Jesus wrongly, but somehow you’ve understood better than they?

      Like

      1. “If your interepretation of those texts is correct, why didn’t Peter, James, John, the rest of the disciples, or Paul ever persecute non-believers? Why didn’t they submit themselves to persecution? Did the interpret Jesus wrongly, but somehow you’ve understood better than they?”

        Because they didn’t exist. Second, it wouldn’t make a good story if a minority went around trying to do this in the Roman Empire. Not too hard to figure out, Haden.

        Liked by 2 people

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