Teaching Notes: On Atheism and Apologetics

I was a well-known atheist in the area where I lived in the late 1960’s and early 70’s because of hosting a daily radio talk show where religion was often a topic of discussion. I was a “strong” atheist and used my position to challenge and mock the beliefs of religious people, especially Christians.

After becoming a Christian, I received many invitations to share my story at churches, religious group meetings and on Christian radio programs. The earliest notes I’ve found from my talks about atheism is from a talk I gave on radio more than 40 years ago. I share these notes with the hope they might help you understand the thinking of atheists and the great privilege we have to share Christ with them.

[This transcript is from a radio program broadcast more than 40 years ago.]

On today’s broadcast we’re going to share with you a solution to a very embarrassing situation faced by many Christians.

How often have you been sharing the Gospel with a neighbor, someone at work or school, or in door-to-door visitation, when a person has said, “Do you believe the Bible? You’ve got to be kidding! You couldn’t prove the Bible if your life depended on it.” Or how about this one – “Man, you’ve committed intellectual suicide! Nobody with any education believes that book any more. It’s just a bunch of fairy tales. It’s filled with contradictions and science has proved it to be a joke by some pranksters back in the old days.”

A person I was talking with recently  shared that this is what had happened to her at work. Christians are being challenged by unbelievers at every turn. The mouths of millions of God’s people have been shut over the years by scoffers. These Christians knew that Jesus had lived and died for them, but they couldn’t prove it to someone else. They knew that Jesus had changed their life, but they didn’t know how to defend their faith. Many Christians have even had their own faith in God shaken by infidels.

Having been an atheist and scoffer before I was saved, I know both sides of the coin. Before I was saved I would quote from the great philosophers of past ages who repudiated the Bible and “proved” its unreliability. I used to quote from a book entitled “1001 Errors in the Bible.” My heart breaks as I think of the thousands of Christians listening today who are petrified by atheists and agnostics.

I would like to share some easy to remember facts that will put backbone in your faith and muscle in your witness.

Be Ready

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” 1 Peter 3:15-16

An expanded translation of verse 15 from the Greek reads – “Always being those who are ready to present a verbal defense to everyone who asks you for logical explanation concerning the hope which is in all of you.”

The Amplified Bible reads – “Always be ready to give a logical defense to any one who asks you to account for the hope that is in you.”

You and I are always to have at our ready a logical defense and explanation for what we believe.

Paul Little wrote a book entitled “Know Why You Believe.” It’s one thing to know what the Bible says and believe it. It’s another thing to know “why” we believe the Bible.

Christianity is not, I repeat, is not “blind faith.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed.” Paul wasn’t confused. He didn’t take someone’s word for it. He knew what, who, where, when, how and why he believed.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus didn’t say that we might know the truth or that we could possibly stumble on the truth some day. He said, “You shall know the truth!”

The Apostle John wrote, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may know that ye have eternal life.”

See and Know

God has not made His purpose and will a big, dark secret. He has revealed it in black and white for everyone to see and know.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” 2 Peter 1:16-18

Peter knew what he was talking about because he was there – as an eyewitness.

We recently had a fire on our property. I was a witness to the fire, along with more than 70 other people. Do you believe me because I tell you I heard about it from someone or because I tell you I was an eyewitness to the fire? Some people might question my reliability as a witness, but they would hear from more than 70 other people who supported what I said about the fire because they were also eyewitnesses to the fire.

This is what Peter was saying. He was there. He saw Jesus with his own eyes. Peter walked with Jesus for years. He heard Jesus teach. He watched Jesus perform miracles. He saw Jesus arrested. Peter saw the empty tomb. He saw the risen Christ. He saw Jesus ascend into Heaven. Peter was an eyewitness to the existence, the passion and the glory of Jesus Christ. That kind of evidence holds up in any honest court.

Let’s read on from verse 17 –

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:17-21

The Bible

The Bible is the most provable Book of antiquity. The Bible is reliable. It is the Word of the Almighty, unchanging God. It is different from every book ever written. It has no equal.

The Bible was written over a period of 1,600 years and more than 60 generations. It was written by more than 40 men comprised of scholars, poets, kings, fishermen, philosophers, statesmen, peasants, a physician, a tax collector and many others.  It was written in scores of different places on three different continents during dozens of different moods in three different languages about hundreds of controversial subjects, but all with one central theme – “God’s redemption of sinful man through Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.” No other Bible measures up to the Bible!

The Bible is not just 66 separate books, but one great Book with one great Character and one great Theme. The Bible has had the largest circulation every known to mankind and publishing. The Bible has been read by more people and published by more people into more languages and dialects than any other book that has ever existed. The Bible has been translated into more than 1,500 languages and dialects. Several thousand translators are at work at this very moment translating the Bible into hundreds of new dialects. The Bible has survived time, persecution and criticism. The Bible has stood for almost 4,000 years against the onslaught of infidels and devils. Men have tried to burn it, ban it, destroy it, disprove it – and yet the Bible stands.

Voltaire, an infamous infidel of the 18th century, said that the Bible and Christianity would be swept from existence and passed into history within 100 years. That was 250 years ago. Voltaire is dead – Jesus Christ lives!

There was a time when “higher” critics stated that the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses because writing was not in existence at the time of Moses. However, the discovery of the “Black Stele” with the written laws of Hammurabi shattered this theory. This written code was written 200 years before Moses was born. Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writing was well known before Abraham’s time. This fact is attested by finds at Kish, Larsa, Farm, Ur, Nippur, Eridu, Accad and Lagash.

The Bible is unique in its teaching. It is the only Book in the world containing prophecies relating to Israel, individual nations, specific cities, all of the peoples of the earth, and the One who would be the Savior and Messiah. The Bible is also the only Book where all prophecies have come true. Only the future prophecies remain.

The Bible is also the most detailed, accurate and complete book of history ever written. The Bible is also the most open and honest book ever written. While other books try to hide the mistakes and sins of the author or subject, the Bible openly reveals the sins of people, patriarchs, evangelists, apostles and churches.

The Bible is also unique in its influence on other literature. Cleland McAfee wrote, “If every Bible in any considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. There are works, covering almost all the great literary writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them.” McAfee wrote that in 1912. In 1913, historian Philip Schaff wrote, “This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquent of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times”

Truly, the Bible is the greatest Book ever written and contains the greatest Story ever told. The Bible is God’s Word, inspired and infallible. Don’t ever let a scoffing infidel put you down, Christian, because you believe the Bible. Have pity on that man or woman for they don’t know what they are saying. An unschooled laborer with a Bible in his hand and Jesus in his life knows more about life and truth than the most educated, trained professor or philosopher who does not know Christ. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you and your ministry. For more information about my conversion from atheism to Christianity, I invite you to read a series on our Faithandselfdefense.com blog titled Convince Me There’s A God (there are currently more than 40 articles available in that series on topics ranging from cosmology to design to fine tuning to causality to scientific research to morality to archaeology). We are also publishing the series as Ebooks that can be found here.]

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