Christian Apologetics Beginner Curriculum
William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971), and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977) and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984).
William Lane Craig is the founder of Reasonable Faith, an organisation dedicated to spreading God’s word and also (most chiefly) to lay down the rationality of holding to a Christian worldview.
These introductory videos to Christian Apologetics will give you feel for what sort of arguments you can learn to help rationalise your faith to yourself and others around you. Take a look at the videos, they are short and fun! A big thank you to Dr. Craig for the videos. Dr. Craig has debated many atheists and others alike, and has always come out on top with reason and precision!
The resurrection hypothesis
One of the beliefs of a Christian is that God raised Jesus from the dead. To a non believer this is a radical claim.
But what if you can reliably show that
- Jesus’ tomb was empty
- There were post mortem appearances of Jesus alive by eye multiple witnesses
- Christianity exploded into being
What would the best explanatory hypothesis be for these 3 independently established facts? Here are two great videos from Dr Craig that unpack the resurrection hypothesis as well as the answer to this question.
Who is Apolobot?
Apolobot has been designed to arm you with some of the arguments given above,namely the Moral Argument, Fine-Tuning Argument, Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Leibniz Cosmological Argument.
The arguments on their own might not be wholly convincing, but together they add up to powerful grounds for believing in God. Think of a crime scene investigation (CSI) case. No one was there to observe the murder, and you can’t repeat it, so the scientific method (of observations and repeatability) is not an option.
What is inductive reasoning?
We have to turn to inductive reasoning, or Inference as to the Best Explanation (IBE), in order to construct a case. This falls under logic which in turn falls under Philosophy. Much like the theory of evolution, which falls under evolutionary biology, and also other historical sciences like geology, palaeontology and archaeology, the evidence is weighed up fairly and objectively, leading to a reconstruction of the past.
Back to the Crime Scene Investigation. Suppose you find a hair at the scene of the crime. Is it enough to convince the judge and convict someone? Not likely. However, although a hair on its own might not be enough to convict anyone, or even convince anyone, if you threw in an eyewitness, a footprint, a sample of blood and a fingerprint, all of a sudden the cumulative force of the evidence can become very compelling. So compelling (in this case), that the cause is beyond any reasonable doubt, leading to a successful prosecution.
More examples of inductive reasoning
But, you may ask, where else, besides forensic science in CSI, do we hypothesise a mind being responsible for anything?
How about insurance? Someone phones in on a Monday to report that their factory has burnt down over the weekend, and now they want to put in a claim for compensation thereof.
The insurance company will immediately want to rule out foul play right? Foul play here would be arson of course.
So the science would follow something similar to this:
- null hypothesis is that a mind was behind the fire
- alternate hypothesis is that is was chance or natural causes behind fire
- evidence is gathered at the scene and elsewhere
- evidence is prepondered objectively and fairly
- conclusions are arrived in support of or against the null hypothesis
- either null hypothesis is accepted, or rejected in favour of alternate hypothesis
Consider also the case of a plane crashing. Immediately you might think of terrorism as a possible cause. Again, the null hypothesis could be that a mind was behind the crash, and the alternate hypothesis that it was nature/chance that caused the crash.
You can see that we often posit a mind as a cause for certain phenomena/effects.
Another case where we could posit a mind is in the question around the origin of biological information. This is the main hypothesis of Intelligent Design. More on this topic later.
Why learn the arguments?
Well, over and above the fact that the arguments are great fun, and can even help believers be more confident in their faith, learning the arguments allows one to adopt a very particular approach to convincing anyone of the existence of a God, and that approach is called the classical apologetics approach.
What is classical apologetics about?
What this approach seeks to do is convince one of the existence of a God through the various arguments, and then asking, based on the evidence for the resurrection, what the in-principal-difficulty is in believing that the Creator of the universe can also resurrect the dead. The greatest miracle, that is the creation of the universe out of nothing, has already been done, so really what is it to God to inject his powers into the natural world and resurrect someone, anyone, including Jesus of Nazareth?
Remember that in choosing to be a Christian, you believe in the virgin conception of Jesus, as well as his birth, life, death and resurrection.
Youtube - God vs Science by Prof John Lennox
John Carson Lennox (born 7 November 1943) is a Northern Irish mathematician specialising in group theory, a philosopher of science and a Christian apologist. He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University. He is also Pastoral Advisor of Green Templeton College, Oxford, a Fellow of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and Associate Fellow of the Said Business School.
The interface between God and science can be categorised as turbulent to the untrained eye, when in actual fact no two other ideas could be closer! Isaac Newton, arguably the greatest intellectual who ever lived, did not denounce God when he discovered his Law of Gravitation. He was, in fact, in awe of the God that did it that way:
“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
– Isaac Newton, The Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy