I go to these theological discussions frequently and a number of points, perhaps familiar to apologists, are often raised. As Christ told us to preach the Gospel, I feel I should have some answers to a lot of these questions.
Some of them are more technical, and whenever I have posed these to apologists, I often get vague replies such as “Well, this is only a small detail and doesn’t really matter.”
The problem is, to convince someone and move an atheist or a skeptic towards faith, a rational appeal should first be made. It is not enough in this case to say “Just have faith.”
With that in mind, here are a few of the aforementioned topics and problems addressed:
- Evolution and Genesis. This was a contentious topic.
One person pointed out that to take the Bible at its face value, the Earth would need to be 6,000 years old.
Among his other points:
Geological evidence does not support a global flood a la Noah’s Ark
Men have existed for 2,000,000 years and evolved from ape-life Cro Magnons to Neanderthals, etc., up until modern homo sapien form. Therefore, the story of Adam being 6,000 years old and the first men does not support the fossil records that apparently indicate many men existing at once and evolving from apes rather than a single man and woman.
Inaccurate scientific claims are made in the Bible such as the sun revolving around the Earth, etc.
- The sins of the Church.
The Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of Galileo and the sex abuse scandal even today with cardinals elevated to their status by the Pope having transferred offending priests to other parishes all offer troubles to many of these people.
The fact that the Church seems to “cop out” with regards to evolution, having once vehemently defended creationism before backing down when science appeared to provide incontrovertible evidence of it. This person said that the Church will just surrender its beliefs as science disproves them. I thought it was ludicrous, but as regards creationism, he did have a somewhat valid point.
I attempted to point out that the actions of a few do not reflect the validity of the faith itself, but nonetheless, it was a point put out there.
The 1968 commission called by Pope Paul VI which had bishops and cardinals as well as married couples supporting contraception within marriage. It was alleged that Pope Paul, extremely indecisive, decided on Humanae Vitae’s teaching only because he could not change the teaching as it would cast great doubt on the Church’s moral authority.
The former trajectory of marriage with sexual intercourse occurring after “betrothal” but before marriage, followed by a subsequent teaching when the Church changed marriage to include that all sex acts outside marriage are “gravely immoral.”
The relative ease with which people can obtain annulments, seemingly by paying enough money to have a canon lawyer find a minute loophole to nullify what may well have been a valid marriage.
- Smaller biblical inconsistencies such as:
The census of Quirinius in Luke’s Gospel appears to be inconsistent with Herod’s death because the two events did not coincide as St. Luke said they did
The Old Testament’s archaic laws dictating the selling of women and their marginalization
The Old Testament’s portrayal of God as having done “evil” and “slaying nations” compared to the New Testament’s portrayal of God as perfectly loving, incapable of evil, etc.
The issue of God’s nature as one of perfection in all good attributes such as love, kindness, mercy, and the Old Testament’s “contradictory” portrayal of Him having felt jealousy or anger, which seem inconsistent with the very nature of a God who has all things already and therefore cannot be a “jealous God”
Some of these I can answer, others have stumped me, but I am interested to hear the thoughts of others. Obviously, I do not believe any of these things myself, but certain compelling points are made and I hope they can be resolved.