Skip to main content

Christian Apologetics

By Thor's Hammer ~

While I was still a Christian, I attended a Christian apologetics study through my home church. At that point in my life, I was starting to question Christianity and thought this class would give me logical reasons to believe. Unfortunately, I walked away disappointed. The pastor running the class spent most of the time presenting “evidence” against evolution. Since the pastor’s expertise was with the bible and not evolutionary biology, I was skeptical. I got the impression he was just repeating arguments he read and did not really understand them.

Columbo (TV series)Image via Wikipedia
He did share some interesting tips for debating unbelievers which I thought would be useful information to share on this site. As unbelievers, we may get hassled by believers to return to the fold. It is good for us to be aware of strategies they may try to use.

1. Be Nice. 

The pastor started by emphasizing that it is important to debate with gentleness and respect as discussed in 1 Peter 3:15b

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

The pastor asserted that most people pay more attention to your character and to how you present your claims then your actual arguments. Therefore, a Christian is more likely to win converts with their unfailing kindness.

2. Qualify the atheist.

The next topic the pastor talked about is “qualifying the atheist.” In the pastor’s opinion, you can move any atheist to agnosticism be simply asking a couple of questions:

Christian: “Have you been everywhere in the universe?”
Atheist: “No of course not.”
Christian: “Well, how he can know for sure the God does not exist if you have not been everywhere in the universe?”
Atheist: “I guess I can’t know for sure..” *Atheist becomes agnostic*

The pastor used another example to illustrate his point. Someone who wants to prove that there is gold on Mars will only have to find some, while someone who wants to disprove this will have to search the whole planet before he can say there is no gold on Mars. He claimed that in the same way the atheist has to search the whole universe before he can say he knows there is no God. According to this pastor, if you can get the atheist to concede that he does not know that God does not exist he will be more open to Christian arguments.

3. Share personal testimonies.

Many Christians recommend turning the discussion away from theological debates and onto sharing personal testimonies. Why? Personal testimonies cannot be debated. For example, if I claim that when I became a Christian my happiness level increased 10 fold a unbeliever cannot argue against that claim since he is not me. Therefore, the Christian can present “evidence” for Christianity without worrying about getting caught up in a debate.

4. Use the Columbo Tactic.

Finally, the pastor discussed the Columbo Tactic. Here is how to use it:

  1. Gain information by asking questions.
  2. Reverse the burden of proof.
  3. Exploit a weakness or flaw.

I have never seen Columbo, so I consulted Wikipedia, the source of all wisdom:

Lt. Columbo is a shambling, disheveled-looking, seemingly naive Italian American police detective who is consistently underestimated by his fellow officers and by the murderer du jour…

…[Columbo’s] personality and manners are initially disarming and non-intimidating. Columbo is unfailingly polite to a suspect as an investigation proceeds. Class tension is often apparent between Columbo — with his working class origins — and the killer — who is usually affluent, well-positioned or naturally condescending. The killer often "helps" Columbo with his investigation, with his/her level of irritation, arrogance or panic escalating as Columbo gets closer to exposing them as the killer, discovering too late that the Lieutenant is not nearly as simple-minded as he appears. When the final arrest comes, the killer always goes quietly after revealing both his/her guilt and his/her motives. Columbo usually manipulates the killer(s) into self-incrimination.

This is how a Christian can make use of this tactic: The Christian will make a truth claim and the unbeliever will disagree. Instead of the Christian presenting arguments to support his stance, he will ask questions about the unbeliever’s perspective. The Christian merely appears to be curious so the unbeliever talks freely. Like Columbo, the believer continues to ask seemingly innocent questions and quietly looks for flaws in the unbeliever’s stance. The more the unbeliever talks the more likely they are to reveal flaws in his reasoning. The believer continues to gather information and silently builds a case. When the believer finds sufficient weaknesses he will go on the attack. In this way, the Christian reverses the burden of proof and put the unbeliever on the defensive.

This is what I learned in my Christian apologetic class. I have opinions on these tactics, but I want to hear feedback from others. What do you think of these tactics? What did you/would you do if a Christian tried to use them on you? Would you ever use any of these tactics against a believer? Why or why not? Also I am curious to hear other tips for debating unbelievers that people have learned in church.


Popular posts from this blog


By David Andrew Dugle ~ O ctober. Halloween. It's time to visit the haunted house I used to live in. When I was five my dad was able to build a big modern house. Moving in before it was complete, my younger brother and I were sleeping in a large unfinished area directly under the living room. It should have been too new to be a haunted house, but now and then I would wake up in the tiny, dark hours and see the blurry image of a face, or at least what I took to be a face, glowing, faintly yellow, high up on the wall near the ceiling. I'm not kidding! Most nights it didn’t appear at all. But when it did show itself, at first I thought it was a ghost and it scared me like nothing else I’d ever seen. But the face never did anything; unmoving, it just stayed in that one spot. Turning on the lights would make it disappear, making my fears difficult to explain, so I never told anyone. My Sunday School teachers had always told me to be good because God was just behind m

The Blame Game or Shit Happens

By Webmdave ~ A relative suffering from Type 1 diabetes was recently hospitalized for an emergency amputation. The physicians hoped to halt the spread of septic gangrene seeping from an incurable foot wound. Naturally, family and friends were very concerned. His wife was especially concerned. She bemoaned, “I just don’t want this (the advanced sepsis and the resultant amputation) to be my fault.” It may be that this couple didn’t fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation. It may be that their choice of treatment was less than ideal. Perhaps their home diabetes maintenance was inconsistent. Some Christians I know might say the culprit was a lack of spiritual faith. Others would credit it all to God’s mysterious will. Surely there is someone or something to blame. Someone to whom to ascribe credit. Isn’t there? A few days after the operation, I was talking to a man who had family members who had suffered similar diabetic experiences. Some of those also suffered ea

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

Reasons for my disbelief

By Rebekah ~ T here are many layers to the reasons for my disbelief, most of which I haven't even touched on here... When I think of Evangelical Christianity, two concepts come to mind: intense psychological traps, and the danger of glossing over and missing a true appreciation for the one life we know that we have. I am actually agnostic when it comes to a being who set creation in motion and remains separated from us in a different realm. If there is a deistic God, then he/she doesn't particularly care if I believe in them, so I won't force belief and instead I will focus on this one life that I know I have, with the people I can see and feel. But I do have a lot of experience with the ideas of God put forth by Evangelical Christianity, and am confident it isn't true. If it's the case god has indeed created both a physical and a heavenly spiritual realm, then why did God even need to create a physical realm? If the point of its existence is to evolve to pas