You Don’t Have To Know It All

Is it necessary to answer everything? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw a discussion going on based on a video from Cosmic Skeptic where he thinks the hardest question Christians have to answer is about animal suffering. We can debate that point if we want, but it’s secondary. I really don’t think it’s a defeater question, but that’s neither here nor there.

When I jumped in the thread some, I stated that my arguments for God are convincing enough for me as are my reasons for believing in the resurrection of Jesus. A worst-case scenario for me on this question would be “I don’t know.” That is not the case as I do have my own reasons, but the point to establish is that not knowing one answer doesn’t overrule knowing what you do know.

One mistake you can make if you get started in apologetics is to think that you have to know everything. You don’t. You can learn some about anything you want to, but don’t expect to be an expert on all issues. Why is that?

Let’s consider each topic you could want to go through. You could want to go the route of science. Which science? Are you specializing in evolutionary science or astronomical science or perhaps medical science dealing with sexual ethics questions?

Maybe you want to specialize in the Bible. Okay. Which testament? Which part of that testament? Do you want to specialize in a specific doctrine? Do you want to specialize in the history of the Bible or the textual criticism of the Bible?

Maybe you want to study other religions. Which one? Maybe a cult like Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormonism. Do you want to study Islam and if so, all of Islam or a specific sect? Hinduism? Buddhism? Scientology?

Maybe you want to deal with philosophical issues. Which ones? The existence of God? Do you want to answer questions about epistemology? Do you want to answer about the relationship between science and theism? How about ethics?

If ethics, what kind? Do you want to go with sexual ethics? If so, abortion or the redefinition of marriage or transgender issues? Do you want to look at court cases in America’s history to see about right and wrong there? Do you want to go Divine Command or some other mode of ethics?

Keep in mind, all of this is off the top of my head. There is absolutely no way any one person can have an answer for everything out there. If you think that you will, you are just fooling yourself. In my own experience, I have no problem tagging someone else on Facebook who knows the subject better than I do or including someone in email better than I do.

For example, I don’t argue science as science. If someone asks me about evolution, I say that I don’t know and I don’t care. I have chosen to not specialize in that area. It’s fun to discuss and think about, but I am not going to treat myself or present myself as an authority.

To be fair, this also means our intellectual opponents don’t have to know everything, which is true. A Muslim, Mormon, atheist, etc. don’t have to know everything about their worldview and can’t. However, the moment they show up actually arguing for a position or presenting it as an argument in some way, they should certainly know something about the topic and be willing to engage on it.

Which means in that case, you’d better seriously study it. Just raising an objection isn’t enough. You need to know your objection and how to answer responses to it. This is true regardless of your worldview.

If anyone is a violator of that last one, it is Jesus mythicists. The overwhelming majority you encounter read no historical scholarship and hold to conspiracy theories about Jesus that the overwhelming majority of non-Christian New Testament scholars would look at with derision.

If you’re studying apologetics though, please rest assured that you don’t have to know it all. You should seek to know what you can, but the whole enterprise does not depend on you. This body has many parts. Learn what you can and leave the rest to others. They can handle it for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

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