Old Arguments Revisited, Part 1

I mentioned in my earlier post “How I Got Into Apologetics, Part 2” that after reading a Newsweek dialogue between a Christian and an atheist I became inspired to write up a few responses to atheism.  They’ve stagnated in my diary for about four years now, so I thought I might dig them out, dust them off, and show them to the world.  At the time I wrote them I was very impressed by them, and I still think they’re okay, especially considering that I came up with them almost independently.  However, if you have much familiarity with apologetics, you probably have seen similar arguments to these in other places.

I had basically two arguments: one against atheistic ethics, and another against atheistic dogmatism.  I’ll give the first in this blog and share the second in a later entry.  So, my plan for the next few blogs is to reexamine these arguments to see if they’re any good, as well as to refine them to make them a little more rigorous.
So, here’s the first one, edited only for spelling and grammar.  Keep in mind I wrote this when I was 17, so it’s definately not perfect.

[According to atheism] it in no way matters what you personally believe about morality or ethics.  Your whole belief system rests on the presupposition that life, existence, the universe is completely meaningless.  You believe that the accidental movement of random chemicals created a pointless universe and more random chemicals came together for no reason and made no true accomplishment by spawning the first living tissue.  And this living tissue slowly evolved into life as we know it today, still riding that evolutionary train down an unguided track to nowhere in particular.  As such there is no meaning in life whatsoever.  So no system of ethics has any bearing on “natural law.”  You can say, “I think it’s wrong to murder,” or “I think it’s wrong to rape teenage girls,” but scientifically, you’ve got no leg to stand on in that belief.  The random chemicals reacting in your brain to make you think and feel that it’s wrong to rape people have no meaning.  The value of your system of ethics has no more value than the system of another person that says “I’ll rape who I want to rape.”  In the same way, it doesn’t matter if the majority of mankind agrees with your system of morality.  Zero plus zero is always going to be zero.  Zero times ten billion is always going to be zero.  See, from a logical, mathematical, and scientific standpoint, you would only be able to find meaning in the world if it had meaning to start with.  I’m not saying that you can’t conduct your life as if it had meaning.  But, just as you can pretend all day long that you are a starship captain and not really be one, you can pretend until the day you die that your life has meaning, but that doesn’t mean it does.  Bottom line, zero plus zero has never been and never will be anything but zero.  If zero is all you have, zero is all you ever will have.

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Socrates vs. Darwin

It has occurred to me that despite the fact that I promised a blog that would, among other things, discuss philosophy, I’ve neglected so far to indulge my readers with much philosophy up to this point.  I’ve whined a fair amount (sorry about that).

So, let’s begin by looking over one of the old masters, Socrates.  In the Euthyphro dialogue, our favorite Athenian is on his way to court to be tried for being impious.  Poor Socrates; he’s not even sure what piety is!  But he’s in luck.  He happens to cross paths with an acquaintance of his, a young fellow named Euthyphro, who’s also on his way to court, not to be tried but to prosecute.  And (gasp!) the defendant is his own father.  Seems dear old dad sort-of accidentally on purpose killed someone.  And Euthyphro is convinced that the most pious thing to do is to forget all that filial piety nonsense and convict any and all murderers, regardless of family ties.  Seeing how confident Euthyphro is about his own piety, Socrates feels comfortable asking him what exactly piety is.  After all, it sure would be useful defending himself if he knew what it is he’s being accused of.

But here’s where things get tricky.  What is piety?  Well, Euthyphro can give various examples of pious actions, but he has a hard time coming up with a solid definition of piety itself.  He eventually settles on saying that pious things are things loved by the gods.  But Socrates isn’t convinced.  He asks, is something pious because it is loved by the gods, or are things loved by the gods because they are pious?  Euthyphro can’t come up with an answer.
And here’s where we get the so-called “Euthyphro Dilemma,” which in modern terms can be expressed like this: Is something good because God wills it?  Then it is arbitrary, because God could will hatred and cruelty to be good as easily as love and kindness.  Or, does God will something because it is already good?  In that case, there is some standard of goodness outside of God, so what do we need God for?  This dilemma is supposed to demonstrate that moral values cannot be rooted in God, and thus is an argument against any sort of moral argument for God’s existence.

Of course, this isn’t a true dilemma.  A true dilemma says, “You’ve got two and only two options: A or not-A,” and both are undesirable.  A false dilemma says, “Here are two of your choices: A or B.” A false dilemma doesn’t consider that maybe we can choose C or D or E.  In this case, our C is simply to say that goodness is inextricable from God’s nature.  God doesn’t sit down and think, “Hmm… I can’t decide if I should make rape wrong or not.” God’s unchangeable character is the necessary Good, so to say that something like justice is good is to say that it is comparable to God’s character, and to say something like injustice is bad is to say that it is contrary to God’s character.

The funny thing about the Euthyphro dilemma is that it is not only theists who have to deal with it.  Any system, theistic or not, that claims some absolute source or standard of objective moral values has to work out this dilemma.  Problem is, most moral systems can’t split the horns of the dilemma as cleanly as the theist can.

Think of it this way.  Replace the word “God” in the dilemma for whatever else you use to determine objective moral values.  Typically, atheists use some form of evolution explain morality.  So, what do we get?  “Is something good because evolution determines it to be good?  If so, then what is good is arbitrary.  Or, does evolution determine it because it is good?  If that’s the case, there’s some objective standard of morality apart from evolution.”
Truth be told, it is very easy to see how problematic the first horn of the dilemma is.  If we rewound the evolutionary tape, so to speak, and let it play back, do we have any reason to think it would give us the same moral values we have now?  I can’t see why, especially considering that some of our moral values, such as caring for the weak and infirm, run contrary to the evolutionary goal of survival of the fittest.  It is easy to conceive of a race of intelligent creatures that thrive by practicing rape.  So what about the other horn: evolution determines morals because they are already good?  Besides the obvious question, “What makes them good then?” I have to wonder how evolution, a blind, unguided process, could evolve us, by chance, to conform our moral sense with what is truly, independently, objectively good.  What would be the chances of that?  It seems to me that if there is some esoteric nonphysical “good” out there, there’s no reason to think that we know it.  It seems entirely possible that we evolved against the good, not with it.

Anyway, that’s my two cents worth.  That’s just to say that I’m not scared of Euthyphro, but maybe you should be.

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What Do I Want in a Church?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in the process of looking for a new church.  The process has been longer than I would have hoped or expected, and through all this, I’ve been forced to ask myself, “What is it I’m looking for in a church?”

I got out my notebook and wrote out a list of things that I was looking for in a church.  Looking at my list, I acknowledged that certain items were higher priority than others.  Some churches might fail to meet the lower-priority criteria with the rigor I’d like, but might still be fine churches.  I recognized that I might have to settle for something that didn’t exactly meet my wishes.  Of course, certain things were non-negotiable, but unless I want to continue looking for a church until I move to another town, I decided that I need to find something soon.

So here’s the list I came up with:

  • Agree on fundamental doctrine
  • Agree to disagree on non-fundamental doctrine
  • Where the gospel is emphasized
  • Where I grow in my relationship to God and the Church
  • Where I feel at home
  • Where I can serve and be served
  • Where I know people and they know me
  • Where I can perform some important role
  • Where I can do something with apologetics
  • Where the intellect is appreciated and not suppressed
  • Not too far away

A while ago, a friend of mine from my last church suggested I read the book Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris.  Before I could say, “No thanks, not interested,” I had the book shoved in my hands along with the instructions to read it at my earliest convenience.  “Great, that’ll be about 12 years,” I thought, considering my lengthy reading list.  I hesitated to read the book also because I was familiar with Joshua Harris’s radical, and in my opinion unnecessary, “no dating” rule, which my ex-church tends to treat as if it came straight out of holy scripture. I didn’t want the same fellow who says “don’t date anyone,” to tell me how to find a church as well.  I was pretty certain the book would tell me I’d be better off staying with my church and not wasting my time trying to find anything that suited me better.

But, recently there have been a couple of churches I’ve visited lately that I’ve felt a connection to, and it occurred to me that I might ought to go ahead and give the book a try.  Maybe it could give me some insight.  If not, it’s a short read, so what the harm be?  My old church was so far behind me at that point I couldn’t see how Harris could give me any reason to construe to go back to it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there wasn’t much in the book I disagreed with.  The premise of the book is to stop treating the church like your girlfriend of x-number of years when you ought to make the commitment and marry her.

I’m all for that sentiment.  That’s what I want.  I want to commit to a church.  But just like you can’t marry someone until you get to know the person and mutually agree that you’re right for each other, you can’t commit to a church until you get to know the church and decide that you’re right for each other.

That being said, a lot of the book was preaching to the choir.  The most helpful chapter to me was the one titled “Choosing Your Church: the Ten Things that Matter Most.”  As you can see, there is a lot of overlap with the criteria I’d determined for myself. These were that a good church (1) teaches the Bible faithfully, (2) cares about sound doctrine, (3) cherishes the gospel, (4) is committed to reaching the lost, (5) has leaders that are humble and full of integrity, (6) is made up of people that try to live by God’s word, (7) is a place where one can develop godly relationships, (8) encourages its members to serve, (9) is willing to discipline its members if necessary, and (10) doesn’t need to be radically changed to be adequate.

I think these are good criteria to keep in mind as I continue my church hunt.  Adding these to my own list of needs/wants, I would compose this list:

  1. The church teaches the word of God faithfully and emphasizes the Gospel as being of utmost importance.
  2. Secondary doctrines are taught, but I’m not considered inferior in any way if I disagree.
  3. The church leaders demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and are well-learned but admit with humility that they don’t know everything.
  4. The church is focused on service, both within its walls and outside, and encourages its members to be servants.
  5. The church is eager to reach the lost with the gospel.
  6. The church encourages diversity among its members, and tries to enable everyone to contribute their unique gifts in building up the body of Christ.
  7. The people in the church demonstrate the love of Christ to each other and to me, and they try to live faithfully by God’s word.
  8. The leaders of the church will discipline its members when necessary, and only when necessary.
  9. The church is not too far away, but is having an impact in my area.
  10. The church is willing to try new things (like apologetics), but remains firm in the essentials.

I hope I’m coming to the end of this journey.  I don’t want to waste away in this lukewarm state any longer.

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Starting a Club

I’ve decided to get most of the bad news over with before I move on to the more positive updates.  Sorry everyone, but you’ll have to put up with more negativity for another day.  Before I begin, I’d like to preface this by stressing that I’m not writing because I’m angry.  I’m writing in order to (1) help me organize my own thoughts about the manner and hopefully come up with some solutions to my problems, and (2) share my experiences so other people can hopefully learn from them and not repeat my mistakes.

So, as I’ve mentioned before, because of my love for apologetics I decided to start an apologetics club on campus.  I was blessed with an advisor in my department (philosophy) who is a devout Christian, and he was more than willing to be my faculty liasson for starting a club of this nature.  I had the series of videos produced by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries called “Foundations of Apologetics,” which seemed like a perfect curriculum for a group study.  I was all set.  I let my friends know about it, and they let some of their friends know about it.  At the first meeting, we talked a bit about what apologetics is, why we should study it, and we also discussed our plan and vision for the group.  Although it was a small crowd, people seemed eager, and I was very optimistic.  However, interest quickly dwindled when I introduced the video material.

Although I love Ravi Zacharias, I hate to say that I wouldn’t recommend his “Foundations of Apologetics” series, at least not to neophytes.  The videos are a series of lectures by various people in Ravi’s ministry on topics such as the existence of God and the trustworthiness of the Bible.  However, they are long and extremely dry.  People were falling asleep by the end of the videos, which isn’t conducive to a lively discussion.  So, I experimented with different formats, such as only showing clips of the videos, but that wasn’t helpful.  I’ve looked around for an inexpensive apologetics curriculum to use instead, but no luck.  I’ve finally ended up making up my own curriculum as I go along, which is not easy for a busy college student.  Besides that, I feel completely unqualified, which is the vibe I get from the other students as well.

There are a few other students who have at least a vague interest in the topic, and I’ve commissioned them to help me.  It’s not easy for them either, because they are all busy and I’m not very good at delegating tasks.  And like me, they’re not terribly qualified to speak on the topics, so I don’t get a lot of help in that regard.

And there’s the issue of time.  There just doesn’t seem to be a good time to meet.  No matter when we decide to meet, no more than a few people can fit it into their schedules.  And of course nobody prioritizes it at this point.

I’ve tried all kinds of things to get people interested.  Monthly movie nights in which we watch a debate or a film like “The Case for Christ.”  Collecting surveys of students on campus regarding various topics of apologetical relevance, but no one wants to do it.  And at this point, I’m running out of ideas.  I try to get people involved, and their just not interested.

I realize that I sound like a complete whiner.  There may be some truth to that.  After all, I can’t expect people to be as interested in apologetics as I am.  If they were, then they would have started the club.

Here’s a problem I’ve come across.  Some people probably don’t come to the club because they sense that it’s somewhat unorganized and I’m somewhat scatterbrained.  They probably think, “This girl doesn’t really care about this club.”  And if I, the leader of the club, don’t care about it, why should they, the casual attender care about it?  But on the other hand, if no one in the club cares about it, how can I?

It’s like this.  Imagine you invite a bunch of your friends over for dinner.  You want your friends to have a good meal and an enjoyable experience, so you put a lot of effort into finding recipes, gathering the best ingredients, and cooking the delicious food.  Even though it’s hard work, you don’t mind because you know your friends will be pleased by the beautiful meal you’re making for them.

But what if the day of the dinner your friends start calling you to tell you they can’t come after all, or they may or may not show up?  In that case, will you work so hard to prepare the meal?  Of course not.  You don’t want to waste the food or effort.  You slap something together at the last minute for the people who decide to come after all.  And then they don’t enjoy the food, and then they don’t come back when you invite them over again.

That’s how it’s been for me and this club.  I hesitate to put a lot of effort into it, because I don’t want to waste my time and energy.  But then people don’t come because they don’t want to waste any of their time on a club that no one, including the leader, puts much effort into.

So what do I do?  One thought, and going back to the meal analogy, what if, instead of making my own slapdash meal at the last minute, I order a pizza or put a pre-made lasagna in the oven?  In other words, I make use of someone else’s effort as opposed to my own.  Someone else’s teaching, for example.  That’s what I tried to do in the beginning with the RZIM DVDs.  But, there are other resources, I just need to find them.  We could possibly watch Youtube videos and discuss those.  We could do a book study.

I’ve not lost hope yet.  I’m convinced this is a good thing I’m trying to accomplish.  Some sources say as many at 75% of Christian students lose their faith in college, and so I know the need is there.  Am I the perfect one for this job?  Absolutely not.  There are a lot of people who are more popular, more charismatic, more gifted, more eloquent, and smarter than I am.  But they’re not starting an apologetics club on my campus.  So, until I can’t do it anymore, or someone else comes along to take over, I’ll try to keep plugging away.  Hopefully, I’ll help to get a self-sustaining club going by the time I graduate.

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Considerations about Campus Ministries

Sorry about the long, unannounced hiatus.  I doubt that anyone would care to hear any excuses, so I’ll just get straight to the point and talk a bit about what I’ve been up to since I last posted.

I hate to restart on a negative note, but I’ve been having a hard time lately and I think it may be cathartic to write some of this stuff down.  First of all, I’ve began to become more and more disconnected from the campus ministry I’ve been going to since I was a freshman.  This started a few semesters ago, but it’s gotten to the point where I hardly go to any of the meetings any more.  Part of the reason is the fact that when I was a freshman, most of the friends I made were older than me.  Now, most of them have graduated and moved on.  It’s not very fun to go to a meeting where you feel like no one there knows you or cares to get to know you.

Don’t get me wrong.  My campus ministry does a number of things very well, which is why I became involved with it in the first place.  The teaching is solid and gospel-centered.  The folks there are extremely friendly and welcoming to new people.  As an awkward freshman who had just graduated from a cliquish high school, to have people initiate with me, willingly speak to me, and include me in their social events was enormous.

Unfortunately, they love new people so much they tend to forget about you when you’re not new anymore.  It’s as though their approach to friendships is purely pragmatic.  “I’ll be friends with you because I want you to be part of my group, so once you’re part of my group, we don’t need to be friends anymore.”  I don’t think anyone would actually say that, but it has been my experience that that’s how they tend to make friends.  When you’re new, you’re exciting and you’ve got potential.  When you’re old, well…
Peanuts "old baby"

 

 

 

I was under the false impression that it was okay to be part of the campus ministry without being part of the affiliate church.  Yes, I knew that the ministry was an outreach of a particular local church, and I knew that they liked people to come to their church. However, they continually stressed that there are plenty of other good local churches to be part of.  What I didn’t realize is that implicit in the statement “There are other good churches,” is the statement, “There are also other good campus ministries.  Go to one of those and stop eating our food.”  When I realized that one needed to be a member of their church to serve on the ministry’s leadership team, I struggled a bit, but when the church I had been going to up to that point offended me, I decided to finally switch over to the campus ministry affiliate church.  I liked it at first, although there were aspects of doctrine and practice that I disagreed with.

Over the summer after freshman year, I had some time to let the emotional buzz wear off, and suddenly I didn’t view my campus ministry and new church with quite so rose-colored glasses.  Coming back sophomore year, I noticed a tremendous switch.  I wasn’t a new person any more, but I’d not had time to become a member of the church and join the leadership team either.  So now, I wasn’t serving or being served.  I was just in campus ministry limbo.  And as the year wore on, I sank deeper and deeper into that state.  Now, it has culminated to the point that I’ve left the church in search of a new one, and all but left the campus ministry in search of… I’m not sure.

If I were to offer one piece of advice to the leaders of my ex-church and ex-campus ministry, this is what it would be.  Change the campus ministry’s name.  Right now, it’s extremely generic, like “Campus Christians,” although that’s not it.  I won’t say what the real name is, but it’s just a standard Christian ministry name that could apply to any self-proclaimed Christian group.  It’s the kind of name I’d expect for a group that was not affiliated with any particular church or denomination, but wanted to serve as a ministry for all Christians to praise God with regards to the gospel we all share.

To protect the church, I won’t mention its name either.  But what I would say is it should change it’s ministry’s name from the equivalent of “Campus Christians,” to “[Name of Church] Campus Ministry,” or something along those lines.  That way, new people won’t be tricked into thinking that they don’t insist on people joining their church.  So in that vein, it would be best for them to make it as clear as possible that if you don’t want to join their church, you don’t want to join their ministry.

Sorry if this entry sounds like a long, angry rant.  I’m not angry, just rather frustrated.  To all my readers (both of you) I would ask that you pray for me, that I have wisdom to deal with this situation in the most Christ-like manner possible.

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EPS Apologetics Conference!

As a Christmas gift a few years ago my father gave me a set of CDs from the previous year’s Evangelical Philosophical Society Apologetics Conference.  The both of us have enjoyed the CDs immensely, and the speakers such as Gary Habermas, J. P. Moreland, and Mike Licona have become favorites of the both of us.  This year, I have the tremendous pleasure of actually going to the conference, which begins tomorrow!  I’m very excited.  For a philosophy/religion geek such as myself, this is like birthday and Christmas rolled up into one.  I’ve been looking through EPS website for the information on the sessions.  My only regret is that I can’t go to all of them!  Here are a few that I’m especially excited about:

Alvin Plantinga — “Religion & Science: Where the Conflict Really Lies”I’m a huge fan of Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism, and it will be great to hear
about it from the source.  My major advisor studied under him at Notre Dame and speaks very highly of him.

William Lane Craig — “The Evidence for Christianity”  Through his books, debates, and podcasts, Dr. Craig has been one of my influential teachers, but I’ve never met him personally.I doubt that there will be much from this talk I haven’t already heard from Dr. Craig, but I’m really looking forward to hearing from him in person.

Mary Jo Sharp — “The Redefining of ‘Faith’ and How Christians Can Respond”It’s a rarity for a woman to participate in this sort of venue, and the topic is one of a particular
interest to me (see my blog post – “In Defense of Apologetics.”)  I really enjoy her blog and her podcast “Confident Christianity.”

I still haven’t decided all of the sessions I’m going to go to.  But hopefully, I’ll be able to get the CDs from this conference so I can get the information from the talks I miss.
Of course, one of the most important things about a conference like this is meeting people with an interest in apologetics and philosophy and networking with them.  I really hope I get a chance to talk with a lot of these speakers, although that sort of thing is not easy for me — I’m really shy!

Well, I’ll let you know how everything goes.  I have to stop writing because I’m getting jittery from all my excitement!

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“How I Got Into Apologetics” (part 2)

The first chapter of Genesis gives a general overview of the creation, and the second chapter zooms in to give more detail.  Consider the last blog my chapter 1 overview, and this blog my chapter 2 detail.  So, what exactly did my journey into apologetics look like?

I had a vague interest in apologetics for a long time.  The only figure in the field that I was in any way familiar with was CS Lewis, and not so much from my own reading, but from listening to my father talk about what he’d read and I’d discuss Lewis’s ideas with him.  This vague interest existed before I went through the great trial that forced me to rededicate my life to Christ, and continued after it at about the same intensity for a while.  My focus after that point became the media and arts.  It was TV and the internet that were the seed of much of my own rebellion, and appropriately, they were also heavily influential in the shaping of the behaviors of the one who betrayed me.  I felt frustrated about the moral and spiritual decedence portrayed in the media.  I was also discouraged by the fact that generally, Christian media is greatly substandard compared to secular media.  I wanted to do something to fight against this trend.  I’d had an interest in writing stories for a long time, but now I was fired up to write something really spectacular for the glory of God.

Of course, it needed to be fantasy, since I didn’t have the life experience to write about anything real.  Since Star Wars was rereleased when I was 7, I’d been making up my own sci-fi/fantasy worlds.  Now, I just needed to hone my skills and develop my stories.  In the spirit of CS Lewis, I knew I wanted my story to have a lot of good theology in it.  Problem was, I didn’t know much theology.  So, I began to look around on the internet for the information I needed.  I discovered, among other sites, the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry (carm.org), which I found to be a very interesting resource.  I especially enjoyed reading about the cults and their various problems, and the material I was learning enhanced the occasional spiritual discussions I’d have with my father.

But the day that apologetics really clicked with me was April 12, 2007, which was about a year after my life-changing crisis.  I was traveling with my parents and younger brother to Florida for a vacation.  I’d been spending most of the car ride writing in my notebook, but at some point, I picked up the Newsweek my mother had been reading.  Inside was the transcript of an informal debate between Rick Warren (whom I’d heard of) and some atheist whom I’d never heard of.  The debate topic was the existence of God.  I don’t remember the exact content of the debate, but I remember putting the magazine down after I’d finished, underwhelmed by the arguments from both sides, but especially from Warren.  I expressed this to my parents, and I remember my dad replying that he’d felt the same way.  Warren, he pointed out, was a preacher.  His specialty is talking to people who at least are open to the existence of God.  “They should have picked someone trained to talk with atheists, like Ravi Zacharias.”

“Who?”

It just so happened that my dad had been reading one of Ravi Zacharias’s books at that time.  He had also previously heard a few of his broadcasts on the radio.  He told me that Ravi was an apologist and well equipped to speak with unbelievers to pursuade them of the truth of Christianity.  Suddenly, the light bulb turned on.  Admittedly, it was a dim bulb, but it was on.  CS Lewis, CARM, Ravi Zacharias, the God debate, theology, and my desire to impact culture were beginning to intersect in my mind.  I took my writer’s notebook and began to jot down ideas, not for stories or characters, but for apologetic arguments.  Now these arguments were admittedly rough, but they were the starting point of a great and fascinating study.

After I got home from the vacation, I searched Ravi Zacharias in iTunes and discovered his podcast.  He became one of my heroes, and he still is.  Following closely behind Ravi came William Lane Craig and his “Defenders” podcast, which has honed my thinking skills like probably nothing else to that day.

One of the greatest things that came from this surge of interest in apologetics, besides the fact that it has brought me closer to God, is that it brought me closer to my dad.  I shared with him the podcasts I’d discovered, and since at the time he didn’t have his own iPod, we’d plug my iPod into the car and listen to it together while we’d drive around together.  Our infrequent, sporadic discussions became routine, as we would spend almost every Sunday and Saturday morning for the rest of my high school career driving around for hours at a time, to get my autistic brother and sister out of the house to allow my mother some time to sleep in.

The study of apologetics isn’t something one should do alone, and I was tremendously blessed to have my dad with me through this.  Now that I’ve started an apologetics club on my campus, I hope to inspire this same interest in others.  It has been an amazing experience and increased my faith tremendously.  I love God all the more because I see him so much more clearly than I once did.  Apologetics is something that I believe the Holy Spirit used to bring me closer to God, when once I’d felt so distant from him.

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