At the risk of sounding trite and missing the point absolutely I think this discussion while a should happen, needs to happen in a context that gives power to what we are saying. The refutation of all other philosophies is crucial for those who follow Jesus in our modern and secular society. There is a drastic need to address the mostly un-thought-out position by most whether atheist, agnostic or Christian.
Unfortunately it misses a crucial ingredient. Our position has to be more than a well thought out system of rational knowledge rhetoric because if that is all it is than we are merely another philosophy competing in the ‘marketplace’ of souls.
Jesus neither rationally nor through doctrinal proclamation wanted to prove He was God. He did that another Way. He, as God expressed something we have forgotten in our pursuit for affluence, love of money and status. Further in our quest for everything to be explainable the people of God have bought into the sophisticated secularism (particularly in the institutional church) that the Apostle Paul addressed on Mars Hill when He addressed the philosophers of his day (Acts 17:16 -34). Jesus’s practical feet on the ground and God in a human body approach, He sought to convince us through love, a love that was explainable, non replicatable from human effort. God came to convince us He loves us. Do I hear the raising of an eyebrow because it is not considered a part of this debate. Now how trite a saying is that and therein lies a problem we neither know what He meant nor are we interested to understand the simplicity of His teaching. Love is a ‘commodity’ in extreme short supply in His Body, but not in Him. Love is to be the convincing ‘witness’ that provides the context for such a debate. It will not silence the atheist but it will certainly provide ‘food’ for thought’.
My discussions with students in the social sciences look at people such as Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela and others who through decades lived differently, why? They expressed something that captivated us in their living that was unexplainable . Mostly we aren’t convincing enough. That is, there is not enough evidence to cause those who look upon us as His community that we have something that is extraordinary and supra-human. There is a need for that something else that is mega- metaphysical, that transcend the ‘natural’ order of this world … Jesus proclaimed love in such a way people knew He loved them. This is the God we are talking about.
And in danger of losing the points made allow me to use a much abused and very misunderstood Scripture “By our love for another they will know you are my disciples”.
Our loud protestations are drowned out by the lack of our love for one another.