We are continuing to report about HOW atheist street epistemologists do what they do.
If this is the first time you’ve read anything in this series, we invite you to read these articles when you have time. You may find the background helpful –
You may also find it helpful to read about the history of atheist street epistemology in our free Ebook, Street Epistemologists ‘On Guard’.
I’m using four primary sources for this part of our report –
- A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian
- Complete Street Epistemology Guide: How to Talk About Beliefs (Last Update: 10 May 2016)
- Street Epistemology videos
We have been looking at Section 2.4 from the Complete Street Epistemology Guide (CSEG). That’s the section titled When to use it –
“You can use Street Epistemology whenever a truth claim is being made. However it is most useful for extraordinary claims, such as miracles and supernatural phenomena, including:
Existence of one or more gods or immaterial persons (theism).
Phenomena that violate or suspend the operation of natural laws (supernaturalism, paranormal and psychic phenomena, miracles, karma).
Biological death does not end one’s existence as a conscious being (afterlife, reincarnation, resurrection).
The effectiveness of healing modalities that science based medicine rejects as unproven or ineffective (quackery).
The scientific validity of an idea or system which has never been adequately researched or fails under scientific testing (pseudosciences).
A covert but powerful force/group is responsible for certain events or situations, where evidence of that force/group is lacking (conspiracy theories). In such cases, we often encounter the following justifications, and the Street Epistemologistasks whether they are sufficiently reliable to warrant belief in the claim.
We addressed the issue of “extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims” in a previous part of this series (click here to read). There is no reason to throw the belief in the existence of God into an unnecessary category for evidence (e.g. extraordinary evidence) when available evidence will support the investigation. It’s a smokescreen atheists and agnostics use to try to control the discussion about God’s existence. Don’t fall for it.
Christian Defense #2
We looked at Christian Defense #1 in our last article.
“Teach your children not to engage with street epistemologists until they train in faith defense.”
Christian Defense #2 is-
“Train children, young people and young Christians in basic faith defense so they will be able to talk with atheist street epistemologists in the event they are attacked.”
Please note the last part of the defense statement – “in the event they are attacked.”
This is similar to how we train young people in self defense. We want them to know how to defend themselves “in the event they are attacked.” We don’t train young people so they can go out get into fights with people. We train them so they can defend themselves in the event they are attacked.
Christian faith defense is different in the sense that Jesus Christ does send us out into a world where many people won’t like the message of the Gospel because of its emphasis on sin and repentance. Christian young people need to know how to deal with a vast array of objections to the Gospel of Christ, including those of atheists and agnostics. Why? So they can talk with people intelligently about the Gospel of Christ. That also means defending intelligently.
Atheist street epistemologists are more aggressive than many atheists Christian young people may meet along the way. Whereas many atheists aren’t interested in talking with Christians, street epistemologists actively search for opportunities to talk with Christians. Their stated purpose is to “talk people out of their faith” (A Manual For Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian, Chapter I, Pitchstone Publishing, 2013).
So, what does Christian faith defense training look like? It’s not too different than self defense training, except that it’s in a spiritual arena rather than physical.
Stand in the Truth
The first lessons in martial arts are aimed at teaching new students how to stand. Standing properly is vital to structuring your body to move quickly and powerfully while defending yourself. It is vital to personal safety. The purpose is to unbalance an opponent while remaining in good balance yourself. It takes time to master the skill of standing, but it is essential to defeating a stronger opponent.
The same is true in the spiritual arena. The first lesson is how to stand – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore …” (Ephesians 6)
Jesus told a crowd of people that they were of their father the devil, saying Satan “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) That’s important to remember because Satan is our enemy. He does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. What does that tell us? Our stance must be rooted in truth.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that our rejoicing should be “in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6) and Jesus said that all truth has its foundation in love for God (Matthew 22:37-38). Paul prayed for Christians that they would be “rooted and grounded in love.”
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19
We owe our children the “truth.” Christianity is a belief system, a worldview, that is based on truth that is supported by evidence. Our children need to know that. All Christians need to know that. There is nothing about Christianity that needs to be hidden. We can talk with our children about any aspect of Christianity from a position of truth.
A good self defense system is based on truth and a proven training program. Most martial arts systems have a detailed curriculum that will take students from basic to intermediate to advanced techniques (e.g. white to black belt). The same is true about faith defense.
Three areas we need to emphasize with our children and any young Christian are:
- The Existence and Nature of God
- The Reliability of Old and New Testament Texts
- The Reality of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The process of training should include teaching/learning and questioning/answering. Parents can and should do this in natural settings (e.g. meals, play, bedtime, trips, time with grandparents, etc), but giving children and youth some good age-related materials will also help.
You are fortunate! Parents now have multiple blog sites, books and apologetics curriculum available to help them train their children in faith defense. Here are some of the best (IMHO).
Blog Sites (alphabetical)
Apologetics Kids (Amazon Book List)
In the next part of our series we’ll look at Defense #3 in preparing your children to talk with atheist street epistemologists.
Please remember Defense #2 for now – “train children, young people and young Christians in basic faith defense so they will be able to talk with atheist street epistemologists in the event they are attacked.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.