I’m still pretty green when it comes to the world of apologetics. I’ve only been researching the truth claims of Christianity for about four years. As such, it’s always good to get advice and insight from those who have navigated similar waters. Thankfully, I was able to catch up with Dr. Clay Jones, author of “Why Does God Allow Evil” and Dr. Craig Hazen, Director of Christian Apologetics at Biola.
About two weeks ago, I attended an Apologetics Conference organized by Biola and hosted by Moody Church here in Chicago. The conference featured lectures from apologetics veterans like Craig Hazen, Clay Jones, J.P. Moreland and Stephen C. Meyer. Between catching lectures and manning the C.S. Lewis Institute table, I was a kid in a candy store; even if I did spend too much money on books!
After the lectures, I bumped into Clay Jones and Craig Hazen in the hallway and had a great chat about evil, morality, agnosticism, and engaging today’s culture. They were kind enough to spend time with me and share their thoughts.
General Questions With Clay Jones
Q: What is the most pressing issue you think that Christian apologists should focus on right now?
Clay Jones: Obviously I think the issues related to why God allows evil are huge. For instance, Sam Harris in his book, “A letter to a Christian Nation”, begins by talking about how right now, somewhere in the world, a child is probably being raped and murdered. He says: why would a good God allow that to happen? And then he says: there can’t be a God because look at the evil that’s going on in the world. We need to answer atheists like Sam Harris and others and say God has good reason for the things that He’s doing and allowing. I deal with the fairness of hell and the destiny of the unevangelized. Everybody’s asking: how can hell be fair?
Q: Are less and less people listening to each other in this age of tribalism and how can we defend the faith in the current climate?
CJ: Well, this is something everyone knows, well they should anyway. You need to treat each person as an individual. You need to find out exactly where the person you’re talking to is coming from; because they’re all over the place. You have people that believe we can know objective truth and we have those that don’t. If you’re talking to somebody that doesn’t think you can even know objective truth, then you need to deal with that first. You know, it’s like the old saying, when the man only has a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I mean, we’ve got to do better than that. I think it’s a call for a lot of people to study apologetics broadly so that they can answer whatever comes up.
On Morality And The Kalam Cosmological Argument
Q: In my experience a lot of people reject God for sexual reasons (they want to sleep around). They don’t want to be “repressed”.
CJ: Alduous Huxley, who was a defender of Darwin, says: We liked the philosophy of meaninglessness because it freed us from a certain morality. Then the next thing he said was: We were looking for the freedom to do whatever we wanted to sexually. That’s what a lot of people are looking for. They want to just do whatever with whoever and not be encumbered. People just want to do their own thing and they don’t want Christianity to get in the way.
Q: Sin is a word that a lot of non-believers hear but they dismiss it. How do we get non-believers to understand the concept of sin?
CJ: As you know the Greek word, “hamartia” was used for an archer shooting the arrow and missing the mark. He missed the target. And sin is simply doing this! Again, if there is a God then He is going to be in a position to tell us how people should treat each other or not. If there’s not a God, then let’s do whatever we want anyway.
Q: I have a friend who’s a hard agnostic. She thinks it’s absolutely impossible to know whether or not God exists. What would you say to a person who’s not really an atheist, but a hard agnostic who says it’s impossible to know whether or not God exists?
CJ: I would use the Kalam Cosmological Argument and say: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause. That’s so elegant, so simple. I would use that on her. I think that’s elegant and simple and what the atheist has to say is: No, things could pop into existence out of nothing, uncaused. Well, that’s dumb!
Q: Well, Lawrence Krauss would say that…
On Parenting And The Re-Paganizing of Western Civilization With Craig Hazen
Q: What kind of advice would you give to Christian parents who are trying to train their children up in the truth of Christianity?
Craig Hazen: There are some women who are associated with our program in apologetics at Biola who are really doing wonderful work focusing on kids and raising them up in apologetics. One is named Natasha Crain, the other is Melissa Travis. They explore all the big, cosmic questions. I think that’s a great way to go. One thing I found really helpful and successful is simply treating Christianity like another subject of knowledge. When I’m at the dinner table, my kids always like me to do quizzes. It’s like Jeopardy always at the dinner table. But I always threw Christianity in with all the other subjects and so it became like a part of knowledge.
Q: I was listening to a lecture recently and they mentioned it’s almost as if Western Civilization is re-paganizing itself. Everybody’s right, everybody has their own god. I would love your to get your thoughts on how we engage this neo-pagan culture.
CH: When there’s really nothing to cling to, people just don’t think knowledge of any ultimate reality is possible. They’ll grab at just about anything. And it ends up being a way to make themselves feel better about their own mortality and everything else. And some people unfortunately today are really drifting towards…politics. It’s the thing that’s going to give them all their meaning. It’s literally all they have.
Keep Asking Questions
This past weekend, I was speaking with a friend of mine who is close to walking away from the faith because she had questions about Christianity that were not being answered. The sad thing is, there are answers to these big, pressing questions if we just take the time to seek them out. A great place to start, is asking those who have been steeping in the world of apologetics for years and have spent that time answering those questions.