Reflections On Doing Apologetics On A Major College Campus


By Eric Chabot

In 2004, I started going to the Ohio State University and engaging students for the truth claims of Christianity. I did hundreds of surveys with students and certainly begin to see some of  the objections people had to the Christian faith. Around 2006  I moved away from the survey approach and started using a variety of approaches to reach out to the students here. Anyway,  it was 2009 when myself along with some OSU students planted a Ratio Christi chapter on the campus. This was done out of the necessity for a stronger apologetics presence on the campus. Since we planted the chapter we have had some very well-known speakers come such as William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, Bart Ehrman and Michael Brown, and Paul Nelson. We have also had some student debates with the skeptic group on the campus. Anyway, I wanted to go ahead and share some of the trends and objections that I have seen on the campus over the last several years. Keep in mind that Ohio State is a very large campus (60,000) students. Therefore, I do not mean to stereotype anyone or act like I speak as an authority for the entire campus. There are plenty of other campus ministries and people who might share different experiences that they have seen on the campus.

What About Skepticism?

Sure, skepticism has always been an issue on college campuses. The skepticism  has gotten worse over the last few years.  But what kind of skepticism do I see?  All kinds of skepticism! But as you will see in the objections below,  I also see alot of pragmatism and some post-modernism, mysticism, etc. But  in general, when it comes to presenting any kind of religious claims such as the Christian faith, I tend to see the following objections. I will also provide some resources to the objections I have heard over the last several years:

Historical skepticism: Questions and comments:

“I am not sure if Jesus existed”

“ The New Testament authors are biased”

“ We can’t know much of anything in history”

“ History is always written by the winners”

“Jesus’ Followers Fabricated the Stories and Sayings of Jesus”

“The New Testament story of Jesus was borrowed from paganism/mystery religions!

“ There are books that are supposed to be in the Bible that were kept out. Hence, we can’t trust the books we do have in the Bible.”

“The Bible has been translated over and over. We can’t trust it”


Historical Epistemology: What Can We Know About Jesus?

Is Jesus Just a Retelling of Mythology: Articles by Jim Wallace

What Can Paul Tell Us About Jesus?

“Jesus’ Followers Fabricated the Stories and Sayings of Jesus”

An Interview with Daniel B. Wallace on the New Testament Manuscripts

Bart Ehrman Creates Stir in Atheist Community Over The Existence of Jesus

Josephus and Jesus. By Paul L. Maier, The
Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History,

The Importance of History

Biblical Archaeology: Factual Evidence to Support the Historicity of the Bible

Bart Ehrman On Why There Are Jesus Mythers

10  Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #9: “The Canonical Gospels Were   Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles”

The Lack of Unbiased   Evidence for Jesus

From Jesus to Us: A Look at P.O.W.E.R.

The Gospels as Historical Biography (Richard Bauckham)

Was Early Christianity Corrupted by ‘Hellenism’?

Was Jesus Christ just a CopyCat Savior Myth? Glen Miller

Who wrote the Gospels? Dr. Timothy McGrew

Did Jesus Even Exist?-The Problematic Argument from Silence

84 Confirmed Facts in the Last 16 Chapters of the Book of Acts

59 Confirmed or Historically Probable Facts in the Gospel of John

Skepticism about the Bible and issues of Interpretation:

“I don’t think we can take the Bible literally”

“ I cant accept Genesis if it says the earth is only 6,000 years old”

“ You can’t expect me to accept a book that condones the killing of innocent people (i.e. the Canaanites, etc)”

“ Why does the Bible condone slavery?”

“Why does the Bible say women are  supposed to be in submission to men?”

“How can you accept a book as an authority when it says homosexuality  is wrong?”


What Happens When Atheists Don’t Care About Hermeneutics?

A Look at Hermeneutics 101

Dr. D.A. Carson on 12 Principles of Biblical Interpretation

Killing the Canaanites: A Response to the New Atheism’s “Divine Genocide” Claims By Clay Jones

9/11: Are We All Moral Monsters? by Clay Jones

Does the Old Testament Endorse Slavery? An Overview: Paul Copan

Why Is the New Testament Silent on Slavery — or Is It? By Paul Copan

Paul Copan: “Are Old Testament Laws Evil?” from God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible, eds. William Lane Craig and Chad V. Meister. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Evolution and Science/Creation conflict:

“Evolution has shown  we don’t need to posit God as an explanation for the complexity of life”

“ Science has a better track record than religion. We keep looking for answers. Your God arguments are science stoppers!”

“Intelligent Design is bad science and not even science at all”

“ Evolution is fact” (never mind that fact  that every time someone says this that they don’t even define what evolution is).


Medieval Science and Philosophy: The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution: by James Hannam

The Supposed Warfare Between Christianity and Science

Has   Science Eliminated God? Alister McGrath

Why Is Evolution So Widely Believed? by William Lane Craig

Intelligent Design Is a Historical Science, Just Like Darwinian Evolution

What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution?

The Evolutionists’ Complaint: It’s Wrong to Argue For ID By Arguing Against Evolution (Part 1 of 3)

God and Evolution: A Healthy Debate

John Lennox: God’s Undertaker – Has science buried God?

Is Science a Threat or Help to   Faith?

Complementarity, Agency Theory,   and the God-of-the-Gaps

Religious Pluralism Objections:

“How can you possibly know which religion is true?”

“How do you know your God is the one true God?”

“ I just think all religions are true and everyone should get along”

“ I think it is arrogant to say one religion is right!”

“ I just prefer to be agnostic about religions. There is no way to know the truth”


Is Jesus The Only Way? A Look At Religious Pluralism

Answering the Skeptics Complaint About Conflicting Revelatory Claims

Responding to Dear Believer: Why Do You Believe?

Are All Religions the Same? ContradictMovement.Org

Is Belief   in Jesus Necessary? The Answer to Religious Inclusivism: Ronald H. Nash

Who is the One True God? A Look at Prophecy as a Verification Test

Jesus, Zoraster, Buddha, Socrates & Muhammad: The Life, Death and Teaching of Jesus Compared with Other Great Religious Figures

Naturalism Objections:

“ Why don’t we see miracles today?”

“We can’t know if the miracles happened in the Bible”

“ Given we don’t see men rising from the dead today  you can’t expect me to believe a man rose from the dead 2,000 years ago”


Why Naturalism Lacks Explanatory Power

Tim and Lydia McGrew: The   Argument from Miracles:   A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of   Nazareth

Science, Doubt, and Miracles

What is Scientific   Naturalism? J.P. Moreland

God,   Naturalism, and the Foundations of Morality: Dr. Paul Copan

Dallas Willard:   Knowledge and Naturalism

J.P. Moreland: Naturalism and Libertarian   Agency

J.P. Moreland: Scientific Naturalism and the   Unfalsifiable Myth of Evolution

J.P. Moreland: The Ethical Inadequacy of   Naturalism

Why Christianity Did Need a Miracle To Get Started

Miracles: Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?

Can we know anything if Naturalism is true? Or: A plea for creativity with Theistic Arguments

This Prison of Naturalism

Naturalism: A World View: An Overview by Russ Bush

16 Reasons Why I Believe In God: (3) The Regularity of the Universe

Is Naturalism a Simpler Explanation Than Theism? by Paul Copan

Miracles,   Intelligent Design,and God-of-the-Gaps: Jack Collins

Answering Nine Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

The Argument From Miracles: Daniel Bonevac

God’s existence:

“ There is no evidence for God”

“I can’t empirically verify the existence of God. Hence, he must not exist”

“I think religion is just psychological phenomena. It is just a function of the brain”

“ There is no proof for the existence of God”

“ I just don’t think we can know if God exists”

” I think there is maybe a force of some kind. He is in everything”

“ I don’t see what difference it would make if God exists.  After all, I am a good person”

“If your belief in God provides you comfort and makes you a better moral person that is fine. But it does not mean it is true.”

“If God exists or created the universe, what caused God”

“ I don’t need God to be a moral person”


Approaching the Existence of God

The Return of the God Hypothesis: Stephen C. Meyer

Is Religious Belief Just a Brain Function?

“God—The Best Explanation”: Paul Copan

The Realm of Doubt: Why Both Skeptics and Theists Have To Exercise Faith

5 Things That Impact Discussions About The Existence of God

Two   Sources of the Knowledge of God by Prof. Robert C. Koons (University of Texas at   Austin)

The Apologetic  Argument: David Snoke

Breaking down the Moral Argument by Glenn Peoples

An Overview of the Moral Argument for God’s Existence by Paul Copan

God, Naturalism, and the Foundations of Morality (PDF download) by Paul Copan

Four lectures on the moral argument by William Lane Craig

Moral Objections to Christianity by David Horner

Did Morals Evolve? by Greg Koukl

Can Moral Objectivism do without God? by Peter Williams

Introduction: Blackwell’s Companion To Natural Theology: J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig

If God Made the Universe, Who Made God? By Paul Copan

The Plight of the New Atheism: Gary Habermas

If You Cannot Scientifically Prove Your Belief, Is It Meaningless? By Paul Copan

Common objections about Christians:

“Why are Christians so anti-intellectual?”

“Why do Christians only target homosexuality?”

“Why are Christians so weird?”

“Why are Christians so involved in politics?”

“Why do Christians have to force their beliefs on others?”

“I see so many Christians who profess their faith but they don’t live it out at all”


The Problem of Anti-Intellectualism in the Church-Problems and Possible Solutions

Paul Copan: What’s Wrong With Gay Marriage?

What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?

 Common Objections about Jesus

“ I love the moral teachings of Jesus but I don’t think he is divine”

“I don’t think the miracles of Jesus are to be taking literally”

“ Jesus never said he was God”

“ I don’t see that difference believing in Jesus would really make in my life. I am  oral person.”

“Jesus was just another failed prophet”


“Who Do You Say I Am?” A Look at Jesus

Handling an Objection: “I love the moral teachings of Jesus but I don’t think He is divine.”

The Jewish Background of the Incarnation in The Gospel of John

“ But Jesus never said, ‘I am God.’”

Was Jesus a Failed Apocalyptic Prophet?

Is Jesus the Messiah? An Outline on Jewish Messianism

The Messianic Task: Is Jesus the Messiah?

Responding to a Jewish Objection: “Is Belief in the Incarnation Idolatry?”

I could go on with many more. But I assume that many Christians have heard these same objections. They get rehashed every decade. What can be troubling at times  is that many of the people that have these objections don’t dig deep enough to find answers. But that is why we are here on a college campus. Our goal is to provide people with the right information so they can make informed decisions about the Christian faith. What concerns me the most is that I see the reality of Romans 1 all around the campus. Idolatry is real and God has allowed people to have their own way. Hence, people have rejected God and they have hardened their hearts.  Even if God does make knowledge available to all, perhaps we forget  that sin can dampen the cognitive faculties that God has given us to find Him. Therefore, sin has damaging consequences on the knowing process. Maybe we can ponder the following comment by Alvin Plantinga:

” Our original knowledge of God and his glory is muffled and impaired; it has been replaced (by virtue of sin) by stupidity, dullness, blindness, inability to perceive God or to perceive him in his handiwork. Our knowledge of his character and his love toward us can be smothered: it can be transformed into resentful thought that God is to be feared and mistrusted; we may see him as indifferent or even malignant. In the traditional taxonomy of seven deadly sins, this is sloth. Sloth is not simple laziness, like the inclination to lie down and watch television rather than go out and get exercise you need; it is, instead, a kind of spiritual deadness, blindness, imperceptiveness, acedia, torpor, a failure to be aware of God’s presence, love, requirements.” (Warranted Christian Belief. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2000, 214-215).


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