Dr. Ron Rhodes is president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. He regularly addresses current issues in the national media, and has been a keynote speaker at conferences across the United States. Dr. Rhodes teaches cult apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary and other seminaries around the country. Jump To: Dr. Ron Rhodes Testimony | Saturday | Sunday 8:00 | Sunday 9:30 | Sunday 11:15
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Pastor Skip Heitzig: I have somebody with me tonight who is a real smart guy. I've known Ron for many years. I've read lots of his books. He's influenced me on Christian apologetics. He is like the go-to guy when you want to ask biblical questions, apologetic related questions and he lectured on a lot of subjects. But we have lots of questions still and one of the downsides of having a seminar is information overload sometimes and not pausing to ask questions. So I'm going to ask a series of questions to our author, this is Doctor Ron Rhodes. Please welcome
Ron Rhodes: Hi. Thank you very much.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Now Ron, I've known you as an author, as a theologian, as a seminary professor, as a researcher at Christian Research Institute years ago, but what I was amazed to find out is that wasn't your first career. You were like in Hollywood?
Ron Rhodes: Yes.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Early on or television?
Ron Rhodes: Can you imagine me with long hair with a guitar on my back?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Is that true, you had long hair?
Ron Rhodes: I had long hair. I was pursuing a Hollywood career and in fact, I was working with my brothers and sisters. There are eight of us. And our mother started us in music. She was virtuoso pianist, and so we got the genetics.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That's good.
Ron Rhodes: And so we formed a band at a very early age.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: What was the band called?
Ron Rhodes: We were called The Rhodes Kids. We were kids at the time.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: The Rhodes Kids, and it was actually a Hollywood band like --
Ron Rhodes: Well, we started out with just doing little and stuff like that, but actually, we were in Las Vegas at the time and we have a good friend in the family, Wayne Newton.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Really?
Ron Rhodes: Wayne Newton, of course. I'm sure most of you have heard of him, that Wayne Newton was doing the Las Vegas segment of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. And so, Wayne says, "I can't promise you anything but bring your instruments down at the studio tonight." So, they were standing there with Barbara Streisand and Sammy Davis, Jr. and all of these other celebrities, our eyes are kind of like this.
And they're supposed to go back to New York with Jerry Lewis after Sammy Davis, Jr. sang. So Wayne told Sammy Davis, Jr. to say, "We'll be right back with the Rhodes Kids" after he finished his song. So then Jerry comes off from New York and says, "Did you have one more act?" And Wayne said, "Well yes, we have one more act." And so we got snuck on to the Jerry Lewis Telethon. It was about 30 million people watching.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: And you were on Merv Griffin I hear.
Ron Rhodes: Well, after that, it's snowball. We did Merv Griffi, Mike Douglas, Dinah Shore, American Bandstand.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: How many of you have heard of those shows before? Raise your hand. Okay, God bless you.
Ron Rhodes: I'm kind of dating myself by saying that. They are all members of AARP, probably.
But yeah, it was really wild. Back in those years, it was just phenomenal what happened in a very quick fashion. We had been doing small clubs and then all of a sudden, we were doing theaters with over 10,000 people. And we had a recording company that did a $2 million promotion on us, which we were amazed at. We're able to do a 50% headlining with Ann Margret at the Las Vegas, Hilton. And so we did 60 shows with Ann Margret, and the recording company brought in like 50 of the nation's top disc jockeys, as well as some of the top magazine editors for a one-week vacation in Las Vegas.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: No kidding.
Ron Rhodes: And within three months, we were on the national charts with some of our music. Money was what it was all about.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Some of that music, you're going to hear right now. This is actually a little clip of The Rhodes Kids.
Ron Rhodes: That's me.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay, that is incredible.
Here is what's funny, the name of that song.
Ron Rhodes: Voodoo Magic.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Voodoo Magic.
Ron Rhodes: Vooddoo Magic. And here I am today in apologetics, so something happened between then and now.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: What is it? What happened?
Ron Rhodes: Well, I met Jesus. It was pretty amazing, yeah.
It was awesome. In fact, here we were doing all these big shows and so I'm backstage one day, it was in Burbank, California, and in studio A was a Glen Campbell Show and studio B was the Merv Griffin Show. So Pat Boone and his family, including his four daughters, including Debby, I knew Debby before she was a big star. And so, they're in studio A with Glen Campbell Show and we were in studio B with Merv Griffin Show and then backstage is kind of like a common area.
So there I am just sitting with Shirley Boone, Pat Boone's wife, and she starts talking about Jesus and she started crying tears of joy. I said, "Wow, this seems real." And she was talking about Bible prophecy. She was talking about the rapture of the church and the tribulation, and the anti-Christ and the second coming. I had never heard of any of these. And so long story short, I ended up buying a bunch of books on Bible prophecy, particularly from Dallas Theological Seminary, folks like Dr. John Walvoord.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yes.
Ron Rhodes: I couldn't get enough.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Uh-hmm.
Ron Rhodes: I was reading these books left and right, and I ended up becoming a believer out of that. Bible prophecy got my attention, seeing Shirley cried tears of joy --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: How old were you?
Ron Rhodes: I was like 18 years old. And I saw for the first time that Christianity wasn't just this set of doctrines but rather, there is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I wanted it. You see, the backdrop is this, I had been working with our family with some of the biggest starts in Hollywood. I mean, we did many shows with Elvis Presley.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Wow.
Ron Rhodes: Worked with -- let's see, B.B. King --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: You played guitar Elvis Presley?
Ron Rhodes: Elvis Presley, that's right.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Thank you very much
Ron Rhodes: Thank you very much.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Thank you.
Ron Rhodes: "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog." Okay, I can't sing. Now, I just make a joyful noise onto the Lord. But anyway, working with all of these stars, Jackie Gleason, Carol Burnett, all of these people, and one of the things I started to see is that even though these people were really rich and really famous, they were just like me. I guess I had thought in my head that this would be the epitome of the kind of person to emulate.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Uh-hmm.
Ron Rhodes: And made no mistake about it. I do have respect for a lot of these people, but they've got problems just like all the rest of us and they have turmoil that they are working through. And so even though they are very famous and very rich, they didn't have all the answers. And so, enter the Boone family, was Shirley Boone talking about this real relationship with Jesus that something that I wanted. And one by one, my seven brothers and sisters trusted in Jesus Christ as well. It's awesome.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That's great.
Ron Rhodes: Lord just touched all of us.
And what's particularly interesting is that my mom and dad thought we were going through a phase. Can you relate? Have everyone encountered that? Your parents think that you are going through this phase and "you'll outgrow this, don't worry about it." And so all of us kids said, "Well, all we got to do is pray for our parents and the Lord will open their eyes." Let me tell you. You want to know what happened? The Lord allowed the bottom to drop out from under their lives. The more we pray, the worse things got. You see, we thought that the Lord will just open their eyes and that would be the end of it, but the Lord knew better.
See, over the next half a year or so, God allowed everything to go wrong and they hired divorce lawyers. They were going to get rid of each other, and the kids were right on the middle of all of these. And long story short, right at the height of all of these, my dad comes to me and says, "I need Jesus." It's the first time I've ever saw him cry. He cried. He accepted Jesus and my mom soon followed with a conversion to Jesus Christ. The fired their lawyers. They got back together and developed a very close relationship for the rest of their lives. And what's interesting is that we held them up to family life conference way back then.
Little did I know that years later I would be doing conferences around the country with.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah.
Ron Rhodes: I mean it's just funny the way this kind of stuff works. And so the Lord worked a mighty healing in their lives and then five families on our block became believers after witnessing what had taken place.
So, let me just tell this to you as an encouragement. Some of you may have family members that haven't trusted in the Lord and it seems like their hearts are really hard. Let me tell you, Jesus can break through. Love can break through. And so just keep on being a positive witness. I mean we saw an incredible miracle. But anyway, I dumped Hollywood, went to seminary and I've been serving the Lord ever since and haven't looked back.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay, so that's such a great story.
Ron Rhodes: Yeah, pretty often.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: One of the encouraging things is we so often relegate Hollywood to a lost cause when in fact God has His witnesses right there in the midst of it.
Ron Rhodes: Oh, He does and He knows just how to reach each one of us. I had no idea walking into the TV studio that day that I would actually have a seed planted in my heart. And that just shows you something, you know, chance encounters can make all the difference. You might come into contact with somebody where you plant the seed and that seed will grow into fruition one day. Somebody else might water the seed. Somebody else might have the privilege to seeing that seed blossom into a flower. And the encouragement there is that when we witness the people, let's all keep in mind that we're not in the business of conversion. That's God's job. We're called the "be God's witnesses" and sometimes, we just plant a seed. Other times, we might water a seed. Still, other times, we might witness that flower bloom. But don't get discouraged if everybody you witness doesn't become a believer. They certainly don't what we see with the disciples either. And so to me, that just kind of sets us free in terms of witnessing the people because it removes the burden of us being the converters. We're not the converters. We were never intended to be. God does that. But we are called to be faithful witnesses and thank God for Shirley Boone on that day.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Amen. Let me ask you a question about what you do and I want you to clarify it because we talked about Christian apologetics, you're an apologist and we hear that, and we think, "Does that mean he says 'I'm sorry' a lot? He apologizes?" What is apologetics?
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's a good question. It comes from a Greek word apologia, which means defense. And it has to do with defending Christianity against any and every attack. There wouldn't have been a reformation if it weren't from Martin Luther taking for the truth, right?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Right.
Ron Rhodes: Even in New Testament times, apologetics became an important thing, you know why? Because many false doctrines emerged. The Apostle Paul talked about a different Gospel in Galatians 1:8. It talked about a different Jesus in 2 Corinthians 11 Verse 4, Verse 14 as well. There is a false Christ that Jesus warns about in Matthew 7 and Matthew 24. There are doctrines of demons that we read about. And if you look at 1 Timothy 4 and 2 Timothy 4, there's this indication that people are going to be falling away from the faith and doctrines of demons emerging.
And so, even in biblical times, there was need to defend the truth and they used apologetics. The Apostle Paul would reason from the scriptures with the Jews and with the Pagan philosophers, and by the way, if you don't know, that's where we got our title for our ministry, Reasoning from the Scriptures. We didn't just make that up. We got that from the Apostle Paul, and as well, I looked at the objective approach that a number of the biblical writers like remember with Luke?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yes.
Ron Rhodes: Remember the first four verses in Luke's Gospel?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Right.
Ron Rhodes: Luke starts out and he says he's researched everything carefully. He's examined the various accounts that are out there, and he was writing to someone named Theophilus, a name that it means a lover of God. And so, Luke is writing and he says that he's doing all of those research and compiling this account so that you may know with certainty the things that we have believed. You see? So, that's part of what apologetics is about. It's not just defending against attacks but apologetics also serves to ground our faith. By grounding our faith, I'm talking about the fact that it helps us to learn why we believe what we believe.
For example, you might think that Jesus is God and you would be right but today, we had a nice session together where we talked about why Jesus is God. He has the names of God. He does the works of God. He's recognized this God. He's worshipped this God. And one of the things that we see in the early church is the increased need for apologetics. I'm sure you've done a lot of study, for example, of gnosticism.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup.
Ron Rhodes: Those ancient gnostic said that there was a guy by the name of Cerinthus, and John knew Cerinthus, the apostle John. And Cerinthus said that Jesus was just a human and this cosmic Christ spirit came down upon him at the baptism and then later departed at the crucifixion. And meanwhile, this Christ spirit gave secret knowledge to the initiates, the disciples. Well, of course, that's a bunch of baloney.
So part of what John is writing about in his epistles is about defending the incarnation, that he wasn't just a human this Christ spirit came but rather, in Jesus Christ, he was one person with a 100% divine nature in a 100% human nature, so John is defending against that. And then soon after that, you've got like the Arians that developed. The Arians are the precursors of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Arians not being European Arians, the followers of Arius.
Ron Rhodes: Right, followers of Arius, who said that Jesus was a created being, that he was a lesser deity than God the Father. And so we see that doctrine reflected in the Jehovah's Witnesses today and the early apologist took a stand against that. Likewise, there is modalistic monarchianism, this idea that there is no trinity.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Say that ten times really fast.
Ron Rhodes: I don't think I could.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Modalistic monarchianism.
Ron Rhodes: Modalistic monarchianism. We learned a new phrase today. See, if you say that real fast, three times, people might think you're speaking in tongues.
Now, I've never spoken in tongues but I suppose if I said that three times real fast, it might fool you.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That might fool you.
Ron Rhodes: That's right.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: I have to ask you a question because you hit on a very important word that I want you to clarify for us. You talked about defense. A lot of people I think get the idea that apologetics is attacking people for what they believe, we're going on the attack, but you're saying, it's not that, it's defending their attack, is that right?
Ron Rhodes: That's right. Christianity is on the receiving end of attacks and you've got to understand the motivation here. The attacks are not only natural but they're also supernatural. What I'm talking about is -- my personal belief is that Satan is behind false religion. That Satan has motivated the development of multiple false religions and that he use in fact a master marketer.
That Satan has come up with a variety of false religions, each of which appeal to a different segment of our society. You see, for example, do you like the idea that you could become a God and rule your own planet? Well, Mormonism is your ticket. Do you like the idea that you might be able to create your own reality? Well, we've got New Age cult for you. Does the idea of death bother you? How about a religious group that denies death? Well, Christian Science is your ticket.
You see, what Satan has done is he has developed all of these false religions with a goal of drawing people away from the truth of scripture and the truth of Jesus Christ. Now, apologetics steps in and defends truth against these various attacks. And really, this kind of brings up a beef that I have. Can I share this beef that I have?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Please.
Ron Rhodes: I believe that a lot of apologists today, not only apologists that are here to this conference because I have full confidence in all of them, but I believe that a large percentage of apologists in our day have really missed the boat. I say that because apologetics has become primarily and almost exclusively about right answers, strong answers to use and defense of Christianity. That could be sure. Strong answers, in necessary, they are critical to proper apologetics, but apologetics must begin, in my opinion, with the Christian who is completely committed to Jesus Christ, that is committed so much that Jesus shines through you, that people can see that you are different. That people notice something about you in the way that you treat them and that the love of Jesus actually shines out to them.
Look at it this way. If you have strong answers coming from a person who is arrogant, who talks down to you -- I don't care whether they're on the radio or in person. If they talk down to you and they are in your face, do those strong answers mean that much?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: No.
Ron Rhodes: Probably not. But if there is a person that is shining Jesus that you can tell in that person that Jesus is the center of that person's life, that that person's life has been changed, that they are living for Jesus with all that is in them and strong answers come from that person, would you listen to him? You probably would, and unfortunately, a large percentage of the apologists out there are not doing that today.
So my exhortation, I'm not trying to criticize but I'm trying to exhort. I'm trying to exhort people back to biblical apologetics. You remember 1 Peter 3:15, right?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup.
Ron Rhodes: We need to always be ready to give an answer to people, but we must do so with gentleness and respect. And where does gentleness and respect come from? Who does that sound like? Gentleness and respect, doesn't it sound like Jesus?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup.
Ron Rhodes: So really, as we walk with Jesus and Jesus shines through us is going to be a natural thing to show gentleness and respect to people. And I have found in my own work of apologetics that whenever I have strong answers without that love, I don't make any progress. In fact, I'll tell you, I'll just be vulnerable with you. Okay, I'm going to tell you the truth. I used to use the other style of apologetics. I used to win every argument and lose every soul. I'm not kidding. People would be on the doorstep and I would literally fry them on the doorstep with correct doctrine. I now call that the flamethrower approach to evangelism.
They'd ring the doorbell and I'd go -- and I always win the argument, but I never ever made any progress in towards them becoming a believer. But when I started to treat them with respect and to love them, to invite them in, offer them some tea, except if they're Mormons, they don't want caffeine of course. And you don't want to offer ham or anything like that to Muslims. I mean, there are some things to keep in mind, but if you treat them with respect and love, and let Jesus shine through you, those barriers come down. And that's what you want to happen. And I can tell you this, people are going to be a lot more upped to want to come back to your house and talk to you again if you treat them with gentleness and respect.
I'll just clue you in on something. When you have a Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses for example show up on your doorstep, did you know they fill out a form on you after they leave? That's right. They fill out a form on you.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: What does the form say?
Ron Rhodes: Well, the form is, they'll write down your name if they have it, they write down what we shared with them and they write down what the response was, and whether this would be a person for a good follow-up. Now if you are all arrogant, and in their face, they're going to mark on there "don't follow-up."
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay, but what if you have the answers to some of the things they are sharing, will they not also say, "Don't come back to this house"?
Ron Rhodes: Well, not necessarily. If you have answers and you shower love upon them, there is a very good possibility that they will come back. In fact, me and my wife Kerri, we have met with the same Jehovah's Witnesses for up to like a year and a half before the elder stepped in and said, "That's the end of that." But there have been others who become Christians and she never cut it off. You should always make them feel like they can come back, and here's another thing to keep in mind. Very often, when it's two by two with a Mormon or Jehovah's Witnesses in particular, one is like the leader and the other is like the learner. One is more mature in the faith and the other is not mature.
The way I like to word things is that either one are welcome to come back either as a group or individually if you'd like to talk to us more. You see, I want that new convert to feel free to come to me without this other person, in case, that would make a difference. Of course, they don't want that to happen and I'm quite sure that in most cases, the more mature leader warns them against that. But I always want them to feel free to come back alone and in some cases, they have done that.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Let me just sort of play the devil's advocate just a little bit on --
Ron Rhodes: I do see horns coming up.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Ah, ha, ha.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: It's probably not the best term to use as a pastor as the devil's advocate, because I am not his advocate. Let me take --
Ron Rhodes: Come out unclean spirit!
Did you see those horns go right back down? They just -- yeah, it was pretty cool.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: What about the Christians who will say, "Well, Ron, that's great. You have made a living out of this. You've done this as a calling, as a ministry but I don't know apologetics. Can I just let people believe what they believe?"
Ron Rhodes: You know --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Should every Christian be an apologist?
Ron Rhodes: I think that they should, and let me tell you why. First of all, there is this scriptural command. It's not like we have an option on this. Do you know Jude 3 that says, "Contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints"? I hate to tell you this folks but that's not written to ministers or pastors. That's written to all Christians. And I can promise you one thing, the threat against the church today is so massive, it is so tidal wave-like that there is no way we apologists, we professionals will win the battle. There is no way. If the average Christian does not get involve, we have lost the battle.
Let me just tell you a couple of facts. Did you know that there are religions growing faster than Christianity in the world? There are. And statistically speaking, we are very clearly losing the battle and even within the Christian church, we've got Christians, who are succumbing to falsehood. Did you know that today, one of the biggest problems that we're facing within the Christian church is Christians are being tainted by false religion? Did you know for example that today there are Christian Wiccans? Christian Wiccans.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: They call themselves Christians?
Ron Rhodes: Christian Wiccans. They call themselves Christian. What they say is "we are witches at heart." We worship the mother goddess and the male horned god, and I can talk about this later if we have time, but what they also say is that we seek meaning in life, and the way that we can get meaning in life is to bring Jesus into the picture. And so, we follow Jesus but we also follow the mother goddess and the male horned god, which are the two main deities to Wiccans.
There are also Christian psychics today. Christian psychics basically say, they've got a gift of the Holy Spirit, which enables them to contact the dead. You see, so my point to you is -- and by the way, there's also Christian Paganism. And so we're seeing all of these little high breed groups come up. It's syncretism. And do you remember in the Old Testament what happened with the Israelites? The Israelites would often get mixed in with some of the pagan cultures around them, and God would say, "Come out and be separate" remember that?
Well, you see, God doesn't like syncretism. God hates psychics -- I mean He doesn't hate the psychics. He loves the people but He hates the false religion. And He knows that if you get involved in that stuff, it's going to just kill your spiritual life, you see. So we've got a major problem, not just in terms of the cults out there and the false religions and the atheist and all of those other things, but even within the churches itself, we face a major defection from the faith. We find major numbers of Christians that had fallen away from biblical doctrine and had become biblically illiterate.
And so part of the apologetics, like I said earlier, is to ground Christians in the faith and to strengthen their faith. Let me tell you something. Did you know that according to our best statistics, approximately 25% of all the people that join up with the cults out there come from a bible-believing church? We're talking about a church like this, bible-believing church.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Why is that?
Ron Rhodes: Well, I think that one of the reasons for that is that a lot of Christians just haven't been educated in the word of God.
A lot of churches out there teach the word of God but they don't really open their Bibles outside of the sermon. These Christians will open up for the 15 or 20 minutes of the sermon then once the sermon is over, the Bible get shut and they don't look at the Bible again. Now, let me just tell you something. If you only spend 15 minutes a week studying the Bible, you are vulnerable to cult deception. A large percentage of the people that join the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses come out of bible-believing churches and another 40% join the larger, the liberal Christian denominations. That's a total of something like 65%. And so that spells disaster for the Christian church, so it's not just a matter of external threat. There is also the matter of an internal cancer that is growing, and that internal cancer has to be addressed. Let us not forget that the enemy of our souls is called the father of lies and it seeks to deceive. And there's nothing that pleases him more than to take a Christian and deceive them so that they are no longer exclusively the property of Christ.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Well, let me just take this in a slightly different direction. I want to just get really basic with you for a moment. Can you prove God exists? I mean, you can't feel Him, right? You can't see Him. People will ask that all the time. How do you know God even exist?
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's a good question. Let me just say that there are intangible things that you can't touch. That kind of reminds me of the movie Contact, which I'm sure you saw this movie.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: It was filmed here in part.
Ron Rhodes: Jodie Foster.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Not at this church, but in the state, yes.
Ron Rhodes: Right. And one of the scenes in the movie portrays the character played by Jodie Foster saying that she loved her father and the Matthew McConaughey figure says, "We'll prove it." How do you prove love? How do you prove that you love somebody? Give me the tangible evidence that you love somebody? Or what about loyalty? How do you prove loyalty to somebody? What's the concrete evidence that loyalty exists? What about friendships? Sometimes there is no good reason to stand by your friend but you do anyway. There is no tangible reason to do it, but you still do it. Art, how do you tell whether art is beautiful or ugly? I mean, aesthetic things are not things that are --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah, that's subjective. That's --
Ron Rhodes: It's subjective and there's sort of a non-tangibility --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Are you saying it's only subjective that we can know God or know He exists?
Ron Rhodes: No, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying that there are some real things that you don't necessarily see tangibly. All of those things are real. Love is real. Faithfulness is real. Loyalty is real. All of those things are real and yet, you don't actually see them with your physical eyes. We do have certain limitations. We've got five senses, you see. But I believe that you can prove that God exist and there are a number of ways that you can do that.
I think, for example, Psalm 19 that says, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God and their expanse declaring the work of His hands." You know, if I might get theological with you, scripture seems to indicate that God gives us general revelation and specific revelation or special revelation. See, God is not the kind of God who creates us and then leaves us groping around in the dark trying to discover Him. He is the aggressor in making Himself known, and the way that He makes Himself known is through both general revelation and special revelation. And when we're talking about general revelation, we're talking about stuff like seeing the existence of God in the universe around us. Or perhaps God's writing of His law within our hearts. You see, that's general revelation. That's enough to let you know that God exists, and that's enough to let you know that if you don't listen to that revelation, God is just in condemning you. That's what God says in the scriptures.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: So an ordered universe is one of the proofs or evidences of a supernatural --
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's right. I think you could go to, for example, the cosmological argument and the teleological argument. You don't have to remember those terms per se, but just think of it this way. In the cosmological argument, it says that everything that has a beginning has a cause. That's the foundational premise. Everything that has a beginning has a cause. The universe has a beginning therefore, the universe has a cause. See, that's the cosmological argument in a capsule. What we can do is we can actually go to science to prove some of those premises. For example, is it true that the universe have a beginning? I think it is true. We could look at for example the second law of thermodynamics. The first law says that energy cannot change forms. I mean, it cannot be destroyed, it can only change forms, whereas the second law, it says that the amount of available energy is burning out.
So, what that means is, if you look at the sun, the sun is burning off millions of tons of its mass everyday, just like every star in the universe.
Every star is burning off millions of tons of mass every single day. Now what does that imply? That implies that one day, they're all going to burn out. That also implies that they had a beginning. Somebody got it started at some point. And if everything is burning out, such that one day we will experience a heat death. That implies that the universe had a beginning. So that's one way that you could talk about it. Quite frankly, there are a lot of apologists today who'll use the Big Bang to make the same argument. I don't know what your position is, Skip, but are you old earth or young earth?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: I have read good books on both. I tended to be a young earth.
Ron Rhodes: So you can -- like Norman Geisler. Norman Geisler will sometimes say something like, "Well, I'm older four days a week and younger three days a week". That's what he said.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah,
Ron Rhodes: But I think he's more young -- he's really more old earth I think. And by the way, this great Christians on both sides of this today. I disagree with Christians who make this an issue of orthodoxy. We shouldn't do that folks. Both sides a creation, but I'm a young earther. I believe that when you look at the Genesis account, it looks like to me they're literal days.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah.
Ron Rhodes: You got morning and evening, and you got light and darkness and you got numbers you used with the Hebrew word for days. I'm a young earther. But how do we deal with this Big Bang? A lot of the scientists talk about how there was apparently a Big Bang and all of these galaxies have been moving away from the earth at this phenomenal speed and by backtracking, we can determine according to them that the universe is something like 13 to 15 billion years old. Now I personally believe that it's that old.
Like I said, I'm a young earther, but that's what some of the thinking is on the subject. That really assumes in my opinion uniform materialism(ph), the idea that the universe have been expanding at a uniform speed for that entire time period like this at the same speed, are you following me?
There are some young earthers, who believe that maybe in that first instant of creation, when the laws of physics didn't even exist yet, what if God in that first instant instantly expanded it to a very large part of the universe like -- and then from that point, it's been expanding. You see, in that scenario, the earth would be younger and the universe would be younger.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: And he would do that why? He wouldn't do that to give it the impression because He wouldn't wanted to
Ron Rhodes: Well, I mean it's God's reason. We know none of us was there. None of us were there to witness this and my feeling is that science is not my judge of the Bible but rather, I stick with the Bible. Now, this is not to impugn old earthers who have a solid commitment to scripture because they believe that their view is also faithfully adherent to what the scriptures teach and they will go to different verses, which speak about the word "day" and interpret that as being an age.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Right.
Ron Rhodes: And it's true to say that, that the word can be used in that way.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Sure, except --
Ron Rhodes: It's just that --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Evening and morning were the first --
Ron Rhodes: That's right. My take on the Genesis account is that it's young earth and so if I'm going to air, I'm going to air on the side of staying faithful to what I believe scriptures teach us in Genesis --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay.
Ron Rhodes: -- instead of going along with this 15 billion-year-old scenario. And if there was a viable scenario that explains that, perhaps expanding real rapidly at first and then expanding slowly beyond that. I don't know. I wasn't there, but I will tell you this, Thomas Kuhn was a scientist who wrote a book called "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". Anybody read that book?
Nobody, okay. Well, I read a lot of weird books and this book demonstrated beyond any doubt from a scientific perspective that there are multiple paradigm shifts that have taken place year in and year out, century in and century out in the scientific community. And what used to be accepted scientifically has been overturned by some new scientific paradigm. And we have seen this happen over and over again. My only point being is this, that regardless of what your position is on the Big Bang, scientists, 20, 30 years from now, they might have a completely different theory on some of these.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yes, science does change quite a bit, doesn't it?
Ron Rhodes: It does change, and for that reason, I don't want to let science be my determiner as to what the word of God says. So like I said, if I'm going to air, I'm going to air on the side of interpreting scripture literally and I feel very comfortable with that while at the same time, not dividing with my brothers and sisters who may disagree with me.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Right, part of science is the replicability of an event that can be observed time and time again and none of us were there and nor can you create --
Ron Rhodes: No, and you can't replicate that in a laboratory. There are a lot of miracles that you can't replicate. Not only can you not replicate the original creation but you can't replicate Christ incarnation. You can't replicate the resurrection but you know, replication is not even a part of all those science.
How are you going to replicate the ice age? Every scientists agrees that the ice age happened but it's not something that's been replicated in a laboratory.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: It's happening in my refrigerator as we speak.
Ron Rhodes: Right now, okay, yeah. Well, our icemaker has broken.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay.
Ron Rhodes: So we've experienced the paradigm shift --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay.
Ron Rhodes: -- from ice.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay. So here, I want to -- let's say we get past this hurdle of "Okay, I believe there's a God." Here's a question for you. It's often asked. You have your truth. I have my truth. There are many religions. There are many belief systems. How can Christians hold to their truth as if they have the corner on the market and everybody else is wrong? Speak it up.
Ron Rhodes: Well, certainly, there are other religions that have some truth. For example, every other religion out there, at least almost every other religion out there, has some version of the Golden Rule. And so from an ethical perspective, we can look at some of the other religions and say, "Well, this is truth and that's truth and that's truth."
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay.
Ron Rhodes: But you see there's a big distinction between Christianity and the other religions. Christianity has generally sought to take bad men and make them better by ethics. Christianity by contrast, to take dead men and make them alive.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Oh, that's good.
Ron Rhodes: See? We don't just have an ethics
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That was worth the price of admission, that statement right there.
Ron Rhodes: Will the ushers please come forward? No, see, the point is that we don't just have an ethics problem, we are dead spiritually, and because we are dead spiritually, we need external health. Dead people cannot help themselves and therefore, we need an external savior and that external savior is Jesus Christ. In terms of the issue of truth, we're often accused of being arrogant and narrow-minded for saying these things.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah.
Ron Rhodes: But let me just say this, when I talk to people, I try to help them to understand by being real loving and kind in asking my questions but I help them to see that it's really not logical to hold to like this relativistic idea of truth. For example, you've got the skeptic out there and the skeptic is skeptical about everything. The word skepticism comes from a word that means doubt, so they have a worldview of doubt. And so, the point that I try to get across to them is that they seem awful certain that their worldview of doubt is correct. They are absolutely certain that their worldview of uncertainty --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Is contradictory right up the path.
Ron Rhodes: It's contradictory. Same thing with the agnostics, the agnostics say, "We do not know reality" but that ultimately says, "We know enough about reality that we don't know reality." It's self-destruct.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: It's a self-defeating statement.
Ron Rhodes: That's right, or somebody might say to you, "You can't know truth" and you could say, "Well, how do you know that is truth?"
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah. That's good. That's good.
Ron Rhodes: Or somebody might say, "You have your truth and I have my truth" and I can say, "Well, is that statement just true for you and not me?" See? Or they might say that words do not have objective meaning. You can say, "Do those words have objective meaning?" Do you follow me?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yes.
Ron Rhodes: What you're trying to do is to show them how nonsensical it really is to hold to that view. And then what I also try to do is to help them see it is unlivable. It's unlivable. For example, if you're a moral relativist, you really don't have any right to complain about the problem of evil. You really don't. I mean you have no absolute standard. You don't have a compass that points moral north and immoral south if you know what I mean.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup.
Ron Rhodes: And therefore, you really don't have anything to gripe about in terms of the problem of evil out there nor do you have any ultimate basis for giving praiseworthy statements or blame worthy statements to people. After all, there's no absolute standard that tells you what you should blame or what is praiseworthy. It's not really a livable scenario and after I point out that it's illogical and unlivable. I always like to come back to the Bible. Our ministry is called Reasoning from the Scriptures. I believe the scriptures are supernatural. I believe that God bears witness to us, truth, so I help them to see that moral law comes from a moral lawgiver. That moral prescriptions must come from a moral prescriber. And the moral law that we have comes from a living God that holds us accountable and guess what? You're going to die one day. And you'd better have consider this stuff.
And here's what I like to do. These people who are all into relativism, they sound like they've made up their mind but the attack I always use is this, "Well, before you make up your mind for sure, consider this," and if they let you talk, the door is wide open. If they slam the door shut, well, there's nothing you can do about it. But I always say, "Before you make up your mind for sure, consider the following facts." That just kind of allows you to keep on talking.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yes. Ron, I have so many questions that what I'm going to do is -- because we have to bring this to a close today, but I'm going to ask you different questions at all four of our services and then we're going to archive them and have them available for anybody who wants them but there are so many issues and I know that you've studied and researched a lot of this but here's what I want to close with.
If there's a skeptic who has come, maybe they are at this service or they're watching online or by radio, they've come to church or they're tuning in and we've got them this far, speak to that skeptic, now what? What's the next challenge and step for them?
Ron Rhodes: Well, God only holds us responsible for the knowledge that we've been given and I hope that by the conversation that we have had today that has at least raised the possibility in your mind that maybe there is something to all of these. It is my belief that there is a rational basis for believing in Christianity and that God Himself has given us rationality in order to reason about it.
Did you know that scripture itself teaches that you and I were created in the image of God, Genesis 1:26 and 27? And part of being created in the image of God is having a rational nature. It's more than that. The image of God is much more than that but it at least it includes that. God Himself created human language so that we could talk to each other and communicate. God says in Isaiah, "Come let us reason together".
You see, we don't have to kiss our intellects goodbye in order to have faith in Jesus Christ, which is what this conference this weekend has been all about. So my encouragement to anybody who's listening today who may be a skeptic is this, "There is a sound logical and evidential basis for what we as Christians believe. There is evidence for all of the major doctrines including the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And if you're bold enough, if you're bold enough to step forward, I can tell you this. I personally will be willing to dialogue via the internet, by email with anybody who contacts me. To prove it, I'll give you my email address. It's email@example.com. If you want a dialogue about this, you contact me. Of course, you can contact Skip too. Skip's cell phone number is -- can I not do that?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Well, let me just follow up and say to you if you're here, you're a skeptic or you're at our Santa Fe(ph) campus today or you're hearing this on radio or whatever, if you'd like to come up even after this service, there's going to be -- at both campuses, there are pastors up front that would love to talk to you. We have a prayer room. We have people that would love to pray with you, pray for you. Just talk if that's all you want but don't just leave. Come and dialogue the doubts. The questions that you have are good questions. But we want you to know there are good answers for them as well.
Ron Rhodes: Amen.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Let's all stand and we'll pray together. Father, we want to thank you for this very invigorating approach today that we could have about truth, absolute truth in an age of uncertainty. Lord, those of us who have come to know Jesus, we know the feeling and deliberation that comes with. And we're so grateful that you died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead to conquer the grave. And Father, it is our prayer that many others who are listening today would come to that same fate and thank you for strengthening our faith and thank you for Dr. Rhodes in his ministry, Reasoning from the Scriptures, we pray a special blessing upon him. He has spoken a lot this weekend and we just pray that you would invigorate him. In Jesus name, amen.
Ron Rhodes: Amen.
And so it's kind of funny the way God has a sense of humor and all of this, especially a sense of humor when you consider who He calls in the ministry.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yup.
Ron Rhodes: I'm talking about myself. I don't know what your background --
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Well, I'm thinking, especially since the name of the song that we played was Voodoo Magic.
Ron Rhodes: Voodoo Magic, that's right. You go figure it.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: You went from that to a Christian apologetic expert.
Ron Rhodes: That's right. I mean, I didn't know that voodoo was wrong. I attended this liberal church, and this liberal church had no concept to what was really right or wrong. It had no concept of what's a cultic and what's not. I mean everything's open game when you're in a liberal church. And so when the record producers said, "Hey, here's a song called Voodoo Magic". I mean we're just totally ignorant and we go, "Okay, yeah, Voodoo Magic". Why don't we sound really gross on it? And they go -- voodoo magic in the night", kind of like you heard on the song. And we were just goofing off, and that song ended up on the charts, on the national charts.
And so, we were totally in ignorance and after I became a believer and I started to learn what the Bible has to say about a lot of these, I say, "Whoa, we were into some bad stuff there" and of course we repented of all of that and I guess we dug that up the internet, huh?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah, we did.
Ron Rhodes: From the internet somewhere.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Hey Ron, you've written a lot of books about what Christians believe and why they should believe what they-- how many books have you written?
Ron Rhodes: It's close to 60 now.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Close to 60 books?
Ron Rhodes: Yeah, I saw a magazine that said, "Somebody has locked Ron Rhodes in a closet with a typewriter", which is not true but I just write every morning before I get on to other ministry business. I'm going to start very, very early. I take care of my writing first because that's when my brain cells are actually working. They actually stop working around 11, maybe 12 and so, for the rest of the day, I've got to do stuff that doesn't require much brain work.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: I like your brain then, because your brain not working is a lot better than mine when --
Ron Rhodes: I don't believe it. I don't believe it.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: So you do apologetics.
Ron Rhodes: Yeah.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: You are an apologist, and when a lot of people hear that term, they think, "Does that mean you have to say you're sorry for everything you believe?" What is apologetics? What does it mean and why is it important?
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's a good question. Apologetics has to do with the defense of the Christian faith and that's really what the Greek word means. It's apologia, it means defense. And you might wonder, "Well, why is that defense of Christianity necessary? Was it even necessary in Bible times?" And actually, the answer is yes. Back in Bible times, warnings started to surface about people who believed in a different gospel, Galatians 1:8, people who believed in a different Christ, you know Jesus himself warned about that in Matthew 7 and Matthew 24. The Apostle Paul warned against it, a different Jesus in 2 Corinthians 11.
And so because people started to develop these counterfeit ideas about key doctrines, apologetics became necessary. And so for example, the Apostle Paul would reason from the scriptures with people, if you look at the Book of Acts. By the way, I head up a ministry called "Reasoning from the Scriptures" and that's where we got the name, from the Apostle Paul. And back during those days, there are other eras that started to develop -- I'm sure that you've studied gnosticism for example? Back in John's day, the apostle John came into contact with a guy by the name of Cerinthus, and Cerinthus said that Jesus was just a human. And then at some point, at his baptism, this cosmic Christ came down upon Jesus and lived in Jesus' body for three years. And during that three-year period, this cosmic Christ spoke to the initiates, the secret initiates, the disciples. Nobody else could hear their words of wisdom. It's only the disciples.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: And that's the background of 1 John, isn't it?
Ron Rhodes: Well, it is, because in 1 John, John is writing about the fact that Jesus didn't have some cosmic Christ come upon him. Jesus is one person and in the incarnation, Jesus took on an additional nature, a human nature, so now, Jesus was one person, who is 100% God and 100% man. So that's apologetics. And so that's what I do. about today is we've got more threats than ever when you think about it.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Now that's an interesting distinction because you said threats and you talk about a defense through their faith.
Ron Rhodes: Right.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: As Jude said, to put up a good fight for the faith, one translation says "Contend earnestly." Are you saying then that an apologist doesn't attack people because people think people like you attack on their belief systems?
Ron Rhodes: Yeah.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Or are you defending their attack?
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's a good distinction. The truth is we're defending against other attacks. However, can I clarify that? I want to clarify that because I do think that some apologists get it wrong. I think there are some apologists who have a tendency to be a little bit arrogant today, whether you're listening to them on the radio or you're talking to them in person, there are some apologists that seem to have like a spiritual chip on their shoulder and they tend to talk down at people and in that sense, it can come across as an attack. And I believe that the biblical apologist, it begins with the person who is so committed to Jesus Christ that Jesus shines through that person. That the love of Christ is evident to all. And people look at that person and they say, "That person is different. I can tell that that person is really walking the walk and not just talking the talk." And so the biblical apologist is that kind of person.
And just look at it this way if you would. If there was an arrogant apologist who tended to talk down to you and he had all kinds of strong answers for you, do you think you would listen to him? Probably not. But if a humble Christian was speaking to you, he was full of love, Jesus is shining through him and he is giving you strong answers, wouldn't you listen to him? Probably. You see, that's a biblical apologist and of course, 1 Peter 3:15 talks about that right?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: It does.
Ron Rhodes: We are to be ready to give a defense but were to do so with gentleness and respect. And so, you're right, apologetics is really a defense of Christianity against the attack of other people but what we want to do is not make the mistake of coming across as an attack.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Do you think that every Christian should be an apologist? I mean, that's what you do for a calling you spend an enormous amount of time studying it. We don't have the background you had, so what about the average garden-variety believer like ourselves?
Ron Rhodes: Well, I think that God calls us all to be apologist. It doesn't mean that you have to have the title apologist, you know, when you introduce yourself, "Hi, I'm John the apologist". You don't have to do that. But you can still do the work of apologetics in your own circle of influence. You've got neighbors, the people at work, people in the neighborhood and so forth. Chances are some of those people are lost and into false religion and so, in your sphere of influence, God calls you to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I got to tell you folks. That verse wasn't written to pastors. That wasn't written to like Skip-type people. It was written to all of us. All Christians are to be involved and it doesn't mean you got to out and get a seminary degree. If you know about Jesus and what He did for you at the cross, you're equipped. You're equipped to share the faith. If you're thankful for the grace of God because you know you can't save yourself, that Jesus died in your place, you are equipped to talk to somebody about Jesus.
And here's something to keep in mind. If somebody says to you -- let's say they ask a question. I don't know what question it would be. Let's say they ask a question that you don't know the answer to it, all you got to do is say this, "You know what? That's a good question. I'm not sure what the answer is. I'll tell you what, let me do a little research and the next time we talk, I'll have an answer for you." And then you can call Skip, his cell phone number --
You want me to give out your cell phone number?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: If you know it, go ahead.
Ron Rhodes: Well, I think I got my iPhone right here.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Okay, so let me ask you this. You even mentioned that when you were younger, you thought just doing good was enough.
Ron Rhodes: Yeah.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Can a person be good without God?
Ron Rhodes: I used to think so. Let me just clarify that. I think that, say for example an atheistic couple has a child, you can do benevolent things. You can give warmth to the child, you can feed the child and do those kinds of things and in that sense, there is some goodness, but here's the issue, do you really have a ground upon which to stand that tells you what is really good versus what is really bad?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: That's a good point because Jesus said, "There is none good but God."
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's right, and see, the things is what's good for one person, relatively speaking, is not good for another person. An extreme example for example would be Hitler. What was good for Hitler was very bad for the Jewish people. I'm sure you would agree with me on that. And so people can have relativistic ideas about what is good. And one person's good could be another person's evil. And so that's why we had to very careful in talking about this.
And here's what I think. Let's just pretend for example that you're out in a boat. Does anybody like to go fishing here? Anybody? Okay. Well, I like to do it on occasion. But let's just say that you're out in the middle of a lake somewhere, a big lake, and it's night time. Not that you should really be out there at night but let's say that it's nighttime and there's a lot of cloud cover so you can't see the stars or the moon and you don't have a compass with you and you don't have your iPhone with you, okay? You don't know which way is north and you might want to go home and you can't see any lights on land or anything like that. How do you know which way is north? How do you know which way is north? You might be going what you think is north but you're actually going west.
Now apply that to morality. Unless we have an absolute compass that points absolute moral north as well as absolute immoral south, unless we have a compass like that that tells us what is right and wrong, we don't have an ultimate understanding for ground of what's good.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: We're shooting in the dark.
Ron Rhodes: Yeah, we're shooting in the dark. And so that's the problem when people talk about trying to be good or bad. If you leave God out of the picture, you really can't define what is good or bad because God himself is our ultimate barometer for what is good and what is evil. And so just take Hitler as an example. I don't care where you live, whether you live in Germany or elsewhere, based upon the absolute barometer of truth, which is God, we can know for a certainty without any shadow of a doubt that what Hitler did was south. It was immoral south absolutely. And we know that for sure because God reveals it. But if you leave God out of the equation, we can't really say what is ultimately good, what is ultimately bad. That's kind of philosophical, isn't it? But a little bit of philosophy is good.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: But very helpful. Ron, how many atheist are there in our country? What's the percentage would you say?
Ron Rhodes: Well, you know, you can't just talk about our country because it's a worldwide movement. The figure has been growing as a result of the new atheist out there.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yeah, I want to talk about the new atheist. Guys like Dawkins and Hitchens. They look at people like us as those involved in organized ignorance. We have our little systems and they are on the move. These guys are like evangelistic in their atheism. So how should Christians respond to them?
Ron Rhodes: Well, that's a good question. I think there's a number of things that we can say, and just in our country alone, the percentage is growing. I mean it used to be on the low side, 5% of it. It's been growing every single year. But in other countries, it's 60% or more. So on a global basis, these guys are making a lot of noise.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: So it's a growing movement.
Ron Rhodes: It is a growing movement. And the thing with this, they're shouting so loud I think Christians have a tendency to kind of back down and be quiet about it. They become secret agent Christians who've never blown their cover. And I think that Christians shouldn't be that way. In fact, as I pointed out at the conference, I think a lot of Christians have a disease known by it's Latin term non-rockaboatis(ph).
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Don't rock the boat.
Ron Rhodes: Don't rock the boat.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: It's a song, you should know it. Rock the Boat, baby.
Ron Rhodes: Well, we need to rock the boat for Jesus today. Would you agree with me on that?
Pastor Skip Heitzig: Yes.
Ron Rhodes: I think we do. And what I like to do is, very often when I'm talking with somebody that disagrees with me, and I mentioned this last night, I often say something like, "Well, before you make your final decision" -- they've already told me they are an atheist. They don't believe in God. "Before you make your final decision, consider a few things." And that's when I launch into a variety of things that I think might help and to rethink their position.
For example, one thing you can do is to talk about how the atheist really can't say from his own pool of experience that there's no God, because he's limited in where he's been and he is limited in his knowledge. One way you can illustrate that Skip is to ask the atheist, "Have you ever been to the library of Congress? Did you know that there are 70 million books in the Library of Congress?" And then you can ask him. "What percent of the collective knowledge in the Library of Congress would you say that you have?" And he will say, "Well, a microscopic part of 1%". And so then you can ask him. "Is it possible that God may exist in the 99.9% of knowledge that you are not even aware of? Is that a possibility?" And all I want to do at this point is to get him to admit that it's a possibility. I'm not asking for a conversion. I'm just helping him to think along at this point. And once he comes across and indicates, "Well, I suppose it's possible", then you can make some other points.
For example, very often, atheist today will say that they don't believe in God because they don't see any evidence for it. They will say something like, "I only believe in what I can see with my own eyes. I only believe of what I can hear with my own ears." Or if you want to state it philosophically, they say, &q