Keep Questioning

In honor of Question Evolution Day tomorrow (Thanks, Jimmy and Clyde*), here are some thoughts on questioning.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. – Luke 2:46

It was my middle school biology class, second semester. We had spent a good portion of the first semester learning the basics of just what is meant by “science” – what can be observed with our five senses, the difference between “observation” and “interpretation,” and cause and effect – that everything that happens has a cause and every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, nothing happens in a vacuum, nothing happens “just because.”

Now we were getting to the fun part – actually studying LIFE! I was excited to learn just how these bodies of ours worked. I knew we were incredibly complex creations, but according to that day’s lesson, we weren’t always as complex as we are now, nor were we “created,” per se.

Our teacher was saying that in a primitive life form “a mutation occurred.” We had already given up trying to figure out how that first life form came into existence out of the primordial goo, and I guess no one was willing to ask. But I didn’t want to go any further with this narrative without understanding exactly what happened after that mysterious emergence of life form. So, I innocently asked, “What cause the mutation?”

The teacher responded by explaining how the mutation benefitted the organism, and how subsequent organisms with this mutation survived more often than those without it, so they eventually overpowered and outnumbered the weaker, less evolved organisms. That made sense but didn’t answer my question.

I asked again, “What caused the mutation?” She again talked about what happened as a result of the mutations. She seemed eager to get on with the story about how that tiny thing became something bigger and more complex, so when I asked a third time, “But what caused the mutation in the first place?” she sighed with exasperation and said, “It just happened, OK?”

I didn’t have the guts to ask how that lined up with what we had learned first semester, that nothing “just happens.” (I did want to pass that class, after all.) 

That was more than fifty years ago, but I remember it clearly. It was my first clue that possibly not everything I was learning in school added up or was complete. I was certainly not omniscient, but then neither were my teachers.

I sometimes look back on this episode in my life, as I see debates heating up today. I’ve seen Christians, including myself, getting sucked into losing battles, and now I’m thinking maybe we don’t have to be. Maybe we’re allowing ourselves to be on the defensive, when the burden of proof should be on the non-believer. Maybe we should ask them to explain why they believe what they believe? Besides, if we do this with a respectful, open-minded attitude, it can demonstrate to others that we are interested in their views and not just wanting to spout our own opinions.

There’s a place for telling my story, and I for one lean toward that way of witnessing. It’s hard to argue with. (You can’t tell me what I experienced didn’t happen. I was there.) And yet, it’s not all about me.

What kinds of questions could a Christian ask an atheist?

“If there is no intelligent Designer, how do you think complex systems like photosynthesis, metamorphosis, DNA, and immune systems came about?”

“Why do you think so many people believe in a higher Power? How could our finite minds invent something greater than ourselves?”

What kinds of questions would you ask someone who believes in God and heaven, but not in salvation through repentance and receiving forgiveness on the basis of Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for our sins?

“Do you believe heaven is a perfect place? Do you believe you are perfect?” [assuming they say “yes,” heaven is perfect, but “no,” they aren’t] “If you and the other imperfect people are allowed into heaven with all your imperfections, wouldn’t heaven stop being a perfect place?”

“If Jesus’ death didn’t pay for your sins, how else can there be both forgiveness and justice?”

A question for someone who wants to earn their way to heaven by doing enough “good deeds” to outweigh their “bad deeds”:

“How do you know when you’ve done enough?”

I’m sure you can think of more good questions. Please tell me (ask me) in the comment section.

Finally, please don’t think of evangelism as a debate or battle of wits. It isn’t. The cleverest debater can’t save a soul, and the most primitive communicator could see a soul saved before his eyes after the most mundane explanation of his faith. That’s because GOD does the saving. We can be used by Him to plant seeds of curiosity, engage a person in intelligent dialogue, and open the door for relationship that may someday result in their placing their faith in Jesus. But that will happen only when the Spirit of God draws that person to Himself. Our job, as Peter wrote, is to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (I Peter 3:15a) He then added, “But do this with gentleness and respect...” (15b) I submit to you that having respect includes asking the other person to give the reason for whatever hope (s)he has, as well. Be willing to hear the other side. (In the words of NeedToBreathe, “Be more heart and less attack.”)

Most importantly, PRAY for others. Ask God to open their minds and hearts, present opportunities for them to hear about Jesus, and give you (or other believers) the right words to say. He will do that, and it will not be you speaking, but the Holy Spirit! (Mark 13:11)

Prayer: Lord, You created us, we didn’t create ourselves. Forgive us for the times we didn’t give You the glory You deserve. Everything we are, everything we have, and everything we do is all because You gave us life, gifts, and abilities. Speak through us to others who don’t know You yet and let them be drawn to You by Your love that shines through us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

*

37 thoughts on “Keep Questioning

  1. Thanks Ann. Bright people with inquisitive minds ask intelligent questions when confronted with “facts” that cannot be successfully defended. You did right by continuing to ask the obvious until reaching the point in which the purveyor of said “facts” could no longer support them. It is all too often the case that we either never ask or never ask enough and this allows falsehoods to stand as truth. There will always be one person somewhere or another, as you were, to put such “facts” to the test.

    We are now fully into The Great Awakening. More people are waking up every day because more truth is coming forth which exposes so-called “facts” as being nothing more than heavily disguised lies and false narratives.

    Keep up the good work. All glory to our Lord Jesus, the TRUTH. Blessings

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So very well done! “Finally, please don’t think of evangelism as a debate or battle of wits. It isn’t. The cleverest debater can’t save a soul, and the most primitive communicator could see a soul saved before his eyes after the most mundane explanation of his faith. That’s because GOD does the saving.” Amen and amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember that day in 10th grade, a shy kid who never asked questions, I raised my hand. After a full hour of trying to follow some sense of logic to the evolutionary process by a very intelligent teacher, I asked him point blank “Honestly…doesn’t all that you just stated today take an immense amount of faith to actually believe this theory is true?” (He had a reputation for putting down any idea or person of faith).
    He paused for a very long time and finally said “I guess I never thought of it that way before” then the bell rang…someone going out the door said rather loudly “Saved by the bell”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I have often wondered as well. However there were students that would approach me to talk about God after that. I have often thought it opened a door for those searching and those questioning their own faith for the next 3 years of high school.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure it has an impact, Gary. In college I was in a class of freshmen where I was the only sophomore, and the whole class consisted of a running dialogue/debate between the professor and me. The freshmen never said a word, but one of them approached me out of class, and I realized she had been listening and thinking…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen! I really like what you said here, “don’t think of evangelism as a debate or battle of wits.” We really do need to be ever so gentle with people. Nobody is actually saved by thinking right or having the best wits. I sometimes like to say we’re all in the, “witless protection program.” 🙂

    Hummingbirds always amaze me. They burn so much energy, they can only go about 15 minutes without having a snack. They actually have to go into a kind of hibernation at night because they can’t eat and sleep at the same time. It’s just incredible how tough they are….and how fragile at the same time. Hummingbirds can’t wait for a mutation to happen. They don’t have time to evolve and grow longer beaks to get more nectar. It’s a real puzzle, even for scientists.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Listening to the other persons point of view and why they believe what they believe is a good approach rather than going on the defensive.
    Your point in the cleverest debater can’t save a soul and the most primitive communicator giving the most mundane explanation and seeing a soul saved- is something I so agree with and remember because my explanations can often be mundane rather than clever. It is God after all who saves.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a very well written post – Thankyou! What is ‘Question Evolution Day’ event? Who are Jimmy and Clyde – are they organizers of the event? I was a challenger in school like you and also 50+ years ago! My Grade 12 social studies teacher was an absolute atheist and made Christians out to be very ignorant peolpe. I proppsed a debate between science professors at nearby universities as I knew a Christian creationist prof. and the teacher could select his own scientist from U of O in the debate. He took on the challenge with a chuckle. Creation was the winner and the proff was not happy with me for setting it up. I am so thankful for my Dad’s research about creation and the position of creation which our church held. I’m so thankful to have heard the challenges to evolution while I was in school and able to ask questions in my science classes in University – (University of Oregon). Blessings to you!! Peggy Brown

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry, Peggy, I forgot to answer your question. Jimmy (“Slim Jim”) at the “Domain for Truth” blog wrote the piece about Question Evolution Day linked at the bottom of this post, and Clyde Herrin’s repost was what alerted me to the occasion.

      Like

  7. As a professional teacher for 32 years, and now continuing to teach a Sunday school class: I love questions! I’ve heard a lot of them related to evolution over the years, and more recently many related to hell; I’ve written posts about both those topics. I’ve heard plenty of other questions, too. You wrote, “Don’t think of evangelism as a debate or battle of wits.” Exactly! As you wrote, God does the saving.

    By the way, I noticed that a “like” by me has been “blinking” on and off as I write this comment; weird. I’m going to add a “like” as soon as I hit “Send.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, I have a lot of questions about how this blogging thing works, too. I have seen a piece I like with no “like” buttons, things I’m dying to comment on with no place to comment …
      Teaching is a great way to learn things, isn’t it, Keith? Did you teach science? What age Sunday school do you teach?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I taught ESL (college level), but I have a strong background in science, with an astrophysics undergrad major; it’s a long story, but I’m glad the Lord orchestrated things the way He did. As for Sunday school, I teach adults; we had a great morning discussing some things from Judges. The blinking “like” button, by the way, is in the wordpress.com Reader; in fact, it’s doing it again right now! After I hit “Send” here, I’ll make sure my “like” on your post is still there.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You were questioning things from an early age. Well done. Do you know what made you press on with that mutation question?

    I remember my grandmother walking in on me as I was doing my biology homework and studying about evolution. She was freaked out to learn that I was being taught about our descent from apes rather than God. It was a moment I remember all these years later, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have atheistic friends and some in-laws in that camp. They cling to Darwin. They exercise way more faith in the folly than I do in my spiritual walk sometimes. To hang your eternity on such an abyss takes a faith, no matter how faulty. God’s grip – Alan

    Liked by 1 person

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