November 26, 2013 by mattfradd
Last Saturday Trent Horn and I headed to the park to debate atheists.
Ah, a Christian nerd’s dream.
The park we went to is a beautiful park called Balboa Park. On Saturday’s, different groups (Christians; Hare Krishna’s; Atheists; tarot card readers) set up tables, pass out literature, tell you you’re going to Hell, or—as was the case with our Atheist friends—tell you no Hell exists.
It was a lot of fun.
Debating Atheists with Trent Horn is like making friends with the new kid in school who is bigger than all the other bullies who’ve ever picked on you and then going to talk to those bullies. He’s smart. Annoyingly so.
The arguments that took place were very pleasant. The Atheists at the table were kind and smart which made for good discussion.
You can read Trent’s account of the morning here.
A Useful Approach
Trent asked a question which I think is a very good one; one I’ll use in future discussions. He asked, “In your opinion, what is the best argument for Atheism, and the best argument for theism?” What a great question. It cuts to the quick (not sure if you use that expression in America), it get’s to the heart of the matter: what good reasons are there to think that God exists, and what good reasons are there to think that Atheism is true. If the reasons for thinking God exist are more compelling then we shouldn’t be Atheists. Conversely, if the reasons for thinking Atheism is true are more compelling then perhaps we should give up belief in God.
I use something like this approach in my discussion with Protestants, “What is your strongest argument against Catholicism? What’s your number one contention with the Catholic Church.” Once they state it, and I answers it, it should show them that, since their strongest argument can be dealt with, their weaker one’s might be able to be dealt with to. 
If our Atheist friend had of answered the question—we’ll see in a minute that he didn’t—then we could examine those two arguments and then show, if possible, that the argument for Theism is stronger than his argument for Atheism, and since these were the two strongest arguments he could think of, he should consider abandoning Atheism.
Unfortunately our Atheist friend (1) did not think that Atheists had any beliefs and therefore thought no argument for Atheism was necessary (see why I disagree) and (2) thought that there was no good argument for Theism. “They all suck,” he said.
If you’re looking to get better equipped at answering Atheism, then you should get Trent Horn’s book, (I promise he’s not paying me for this. He should, the punk) Answer Atheism.
If you’re looking to get into public evangelization like this, check out the folks at St. Paul Street Evangelization. They’re doing great work.
 Alright, I’ll share one example. Several months ago, while pouring cream into a coffee I had just bought at the airport, a woman, apparently noticing how happy I was asked if I were a Christian. I told her I was. I shared with her that I was a Catholic apologist and her smile vanished. “oh sweet boy,” she said in her southern accent, “it would take you more than a lifetime to convince me why I should become a Catholic.”
“What’s would you say is your strongest argument against Catholicism?” I asked.
She thought for a moment. “That you have to go to Mary instead of Jesus.”
“I am so happy,” I said, “that I can be the one to eliminate your strongest argument against Catholicism. Catholics simply don’t believe that they have to go to Mary instead of Jesus. So that should no longer be a problem for you.”
She still wasn’t happy.