Christian Apologetics: The Value of Saying 'I Don't Know'

"Since God has attributes that have no analogy in us (Berkhof’s 'creature'), it stands to reason that we cannot fully comprehend God, much less explain aspects of Him." - John Ellis 

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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During an apologetic session for high schoolers, a student once asked me, “Why did God create Adam and Eve when He knew that they would sin?” ... However, for my part, after allowing the students a brief time to discuss their answers, I replied to the original question, “I don’t know.”

There are some pretty good answers to that question, though no, not with absolute certainty. You can find them in WL Craig and Plantinga. C.S. Lewis has some good thoughts on it also in Problem of Pain (among other writings, I'm sure).  And there were many others before these guys.

But John's right that both in theology and apologetics, humility and honesty are important. It's more persuasive if the strongest claims are the ones with the strongest support. The case is weakened by making dogmatic claims we can only weakly support.

And the humility and honesty make the conversation work a whole lot better.

On the other hand, we're called to diligence. It's important not to let the "we shouldn't expect to fully understand God and His reasons" become a rationalization for intellectual laziness. Just because a question is hard and we can't answer it with 100% certainty, that doesn't mean we shouldn't roll up our sleeves and do develop the best answer possible. ... and claim it with an appropriate level of certainty.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.