Best Practices: Evangelizing To A Non-Believing Audience
After thousands of evangelism debates on social media and live discussion, I found the most effective persuasive argument for God, when approaching atheists and agnostics, is a non-belief-based, non-passionate, factual discussion of the probability the Gospels **ARE** a fake story. I’ll explain why, below.
Don’t rely on scientific, “nature is proof”, or short arguments – you’ll lose every time because the non-believer already assumes you are religiously crazed and can’t employ logic. I found they are well prepared to summarily dismiss and even mock these arguments.
The reason this “historicity” approach is best is because I found in around 500 attempts on forums with up to thousands of forum readers, this has
- the longest time of engagement,
- the least “turn off” percent,
- and it gets others’ wheels turning in ways logic or nature arguments don’t.
Good salesmen know “engagement time” is critical to persuasion. “When they’re talking, you’re selling.” So always choose the most engaging approach if you want to persuade someone.
What Else Did I Try?
- If I tried to use belief-based arguments, where a majority assumed I think I am at a higher spiritual level – prideful – after which I find immediate and even long-term rejection of meaningful discourse ends. Many people stop talking to me completely.
- If I tried to reference great minds or scientists who believe in God, I found no luck there either, as most people distrust “intellectual Christians,” now. Evangelizing by reference to intellectuals, spoken to average intelligence people, did not work well for me at all. Zero successes.
- C.S.Lewis’ excellent logical argument failed, too. The non-believer simply ignores Lewis’ premise their own logical thought is incapable of discerning truth, if their thoughts are based on a random chance arrangement of atoms. In other words, Lewis said if the human mind is a random creation by chance of nature, all thoughts emanating from it, are chance, and the mind cannot discern truth. My sense is this reasoning failed because the non-believer worships their own thoughts as supreme, by default, since they don’t believe in a higher authority. Not believing in one thing, means a person believes in something else. (I noticed non-believers use the word belief quite frequently.)
Socrates and Columbo Are Your Allies
I found the most success with “delightful detective” talk. Start by mandating you want a discussion which refuses to discuss any mention of the WORD belief, nor any reference to God. Mandate a discussion ONLY of the likelihood of the truthfulness of the Gospels, not the entire Bible. The confident, gracious non-believers always like that…..for a few sentences.
Let me be clear: Insist the discussion of belief (or its siblings: opinion and feelings) are OFF the table – only pure evidence and well understood historical facts about Rome and Western cultural progress may be used. Make THEM prove the Gospels are fake dialogue, despite the truth of the Gospel stories being a historically DOMINANT influence on western culture and the Roman Empire.
- Can they make the case a fake story fooled the culture on earth most noted for truth and science’s logical foundation?
- The Apostles went to Greece early on to prove their case, so do they really insist a bunch of fake story tellers could fool the culture which discovered and promoted Socratic analysis and questioning, the same inquiry style our courts, detectives and scientists use constantly? All of Judeo-Western analysis and judicial behavior is based on Socrates’ reasoning, so all of western culture is impugned if Greece and the Roman empire could not discern a fake Jesus and fake Apostles. (More details on this perspective will be provided below.)
Discussing Belief Ruins The Case For Truth
Once you allow the discussion to mention belief, you will lose the argument. No one ever wins a belief contest, so don’t try. In fact, I’ve never won any belief, opinion, or feelings contests: When someone wants to argue any of these 3 subjective points to you, your facts are going to lose the argument and the opponent is signaling you their factual foundation is too weak to speak of. You are debating a con man. Stall that path immediately.
Make sure to stop the discussion any time the word belief comes up. Quickly remind the opponent he cannot use the word belief, if they try. Impugn opinion and feelings as well – per the agreement you made with them to start the discussion, right? Memorize these responses and try them out, you’ll see all non-believers digress (prevaricate) from these points of persuasion, it appears they all KNOW the truth:
- “We ARE NOT discussing beliefs, we are only discussing truth. Remember we agreed not to discuss beliefs.”
- If they say truth is never clear, or “your truth and my truth,” then tell them “Courtrooms all over the country and schools all over the nation know and teach truth all day. If you can’t tell what truth is, you are not being honest. You would advocate all schools and courts shut down if truth is always impossible to discern.”
- If they claim you’re “trying to get them to believe,” then reiterate “we’re only talking about whether the evidence the Gospels are the truth. You don’t have to believe anything at all, this is only an evidence discussion. What does the evidence say to us?” (Note that avoiding discussing evidence, and focusing on conclusions early, is a sign of prevarication.)
- Remember, you are not trying to “win,” you are trying to discuss evidence. Remind the opponent of this as they try to avoid evidence.
- If they suggest truth is evasive or always murky, it is a LIE. The definition of truth was clearly defined by Socrates and is employed every day in trials and engineering and thesis reviews: Truth is that which has highest fidelity to the original. The story with the least amount of conflicts, is the most truthful. A story or analysis without conflicts is a truth.
- The conflicts in dialogue between the Gospel accounts is NORMAL for witness testimony. Including 4 witness accounts of events of Jesus’ life is STRONG evidence of a promoter of truthfulness: More witnesses are always considered better in a courtroom trial, or a new report, and their testimony is almost always, in some places, conflicted, even for a well understood event.
- Conversely, when a lie is to be created, the promoters never want to promote a series of plain spoken witnesses, quite the opposite.
Remember, if you are debating in public, you are speaking to everyone, so don’t allow the opponent to steer the conversation away from the key argument, stay on message the discussion of CONFLICTS in evidence, not supporting evidence. Realize MOST opponent comments are meant as prevarication – steering away from powerful facts of support – because they know the key facts already. And, realize MOST people on social media read, but don’t comment, so you’re influencing far more people than you realize.
When others see someone brave, truthful, and persistent, with a compelling message of evidence – not your beliefs – they are more likely to follow. Telling someone to believe something – before they know it’s truth, is rarely going to yield fruit.
Interestingly, Paul said everyone knows the truth in Acts, which is exactly the behavior I noticed: People who claim they “don’t believe” also display the behaviors of prevarication – deception – by evading the discussion of the most powerful evidence Jesus was who he said he was. They appear to know the truth, and disbelieve, rather than admit the truth.
W.W.A.D.: What Would (the) Apostles Do?
Interestingly, the approach I found, I later found is exactly what the Apostles used in Greece: Establishing the truthfulness of their message with debate. http://www.teapartytribune.com/2017/07/07/lead-with-truth-not-beliefs/
Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.”
Challenge the non-believers to tell you how a fake story could change the entire course of Rome and the western world:
- How did early Christians endure crucifixion for a lie? No such exhibits of lying for a myth or a fraud exist in human history.
- How did the intellectuals in Greece get fooled, when they specifically recite in Acts that deep study and days of debate with the Apostles went on, BEFORE the Greeks believed?
- The “Roman Cabal Theory”: Rome made up the Bible? Really? How did the Romans convince a bunch of monks to meet at Nicaea and concoct a fake, and rather anti-political, anti-government book for Rome? IMPOSSIBLE.
- If Jesus were a fake story, why did the Apostles go to the nearest culture most noted for analysis and truthfulness, the Greeks? Why didn’t they go to gullible people nearby?
- Why would anyone travel to foreign lands and be imprisoned and beaten, to tell a lie about a fake actor?
- Luke was a physician, physicians know people well. A fake person is easy to spot by a smart person.
THOSE deceptions I just cited, on a mass scale, would take fantastically unbelievable miracles to happen – to fool an entire culture and government and monks. These fantastically improbable behaviors are even more improbable than the miracles than Jesus is credited for:
Truth: The “fake Jesus” story of the non-believers just relies on too many fantastic evasions of historically affirmed influence and events, to be true.
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