Here are some great questions to ask atheists, agnostics, and those of other religions. They’re from Dr. Norman Geisler’s new book, Conversational Evangelism. If you’re into evangelism (and every Christian should be!) then you need to get this book.
Questions for Atheists
1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?
2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?
3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?
4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?
5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?
6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?
7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?
8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)
9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?
10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?
11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?
12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?
13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?
14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?
15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?
Questions for Agnostics
1. Of the two possible kinds of agnostic, which kind are you: 1) Strong agnostic who says we can’t know anything for sure? or 2) Weak agnostic who says we don’t know anything for sure (but we could if we had enough evidence)?
2. If you are the strong kind, then how do you know for sure that you can’t know anything for sure?
3. If you are the weak kind of agnostic, then is it not possible that we could know for sure that God exists (if we had enough evidence)?
4. Do you agree that an open-minded person should be willing to look at all the evidence? If so, then are you willing to look at the evidence for God’s existence?
Questions for Muslims
1. Do you pray five times a day? If you have not done the minimum requirement for a Muslim, how can you be sure you are going to get to heaven?
2. How can Jesus be considered a great prophet when the Gospels say many times that Jesus accepted worship as God (Matthew 8:2; 14:33; 28:9; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; 20:28-29)?
3. If our Bible today is corrupted, then how do we know what parts are corrupted?
4. How can the Bible be corrupted when Muhammad told people to read it (Sura 5:68; 10:94) and we have manuscripts showing that the Bible of Muhammad’s day was substantially the same as the one we have today?
5. How can you believe the Qur’an when it states that “none can change His word” (Sura 6:115; see also 6:34; 10:64), yet it also says that the Bible is God s previous revelation (Sura 2:136; 4:163)? Yet you believe that Jesus never claimed to be God but merely claimed to be a prophet, and somehow the Bible got corrupted because it teaches that Jesus claimed to be God.
6. If killing is wrong for religious reasons, then why does the Quran prescribe the killing of unbelievers (Sura 9:5,29; 47:4)?
7. How can heaven be described as a place full of wine and women when this is the kind of life Allah forbids here (Sura 78:32)?
8. Why do Muslims believe Muhammad is superior to Jesus when even the Quran affirms that Jesus was sinless (Sura 3:45-46; 19:19-21), born of a virgin (Sura 3:47), called the Messiah (Sura 3:45), performed miracles such as raising the dead (Sara 5:110), and bodily ascended into heaven (Sara 4:158), and Muhammad did none of these things?
9. If many Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the eternal Word of God and yet different from God, then why can’t Jesus be the eternal Son of God and yet different from God?
10. If Allah can do whatever He pleases, then why could He not allow His prophet Jesus to die on the cross and raise Him to life again?
Questions for Hindus
1. Can you explain why some Hindus believe there is one reality beyond good and evil, and yet they live as though they believe evil is real?
2. If reincarnation is a result of deeds in a previous life, then how did the first reincarnation begin?
3. If those suffering in this life are being punished for deeds in a previous life, then why show any compassion to help the downtrodden and needy? Are we not just tinkering with their karma and delaying their punishment to a further life?
4. If evil is not real, then how did the illusion begin? Why is it so universal? And why does it seem so real?
5. If we must undergo a changing process of enlightenment to discover we are one with the Absolute, then how can we be the Absolute since it is unchanging and never underwent such a process?
Questions for Buddhists
It is important in speaking with a Buddhist that you ask questions instead of assuming you know what they believe. Beliefs of individual Buddhists often differ from Buddhas teachings. Furthermore, there are many folk beliefs, such as praying to Buddha for help in the struggles of daily life, that contain a mixture of different beliefs. Below are some clarifying questions, existential questions, and follow-up questions you should consider asking:
Clarifying Questions to Ask Buddhists:
1. Why have you personally adopted Buddhistic beliefs?
2. What does Buddhism teach about who we are?
3. What do you believe happens to us after we die?
4. What hope does Buddhism offer you personally?
Existential Questions for Buddhists:
1. What does Buddhist teaching do for you personally?
2. What problems does this teaching solve?
3. What hope does Buddhism offer you personally?
Follow-up Questions for Buddhists:
1. Is there any way to know whether we should choose one religion over another?
2. How can you determine if Buddhism is true?
3. If Buddhism teaches that desire is wrong, how does your practice of Buddhism fit with your desire to win the lottery?
4. Doesn’t the law of karma only postpone the solution to the problem of evil and suffering, but never really solves the problem?
5. If the death of Christ satisfied the punitive demands of the righteous laws of God, then what need would there be for more payment (see Romans 3:25-26; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:17-18)?
6. If there is no continuity with yourself after death, then how can it be the same person who is being rewarded in the next life?
7. If it is not the same person who is reborn into another body, then why should someone pay for the karmic debt left by someone else?
8. Is it not true that if there is an ultimate moral law, then there is an ultimate Moral Lawgiver?
9. And if there is no ultimate moral law, then why should we follow the Buddhist 10 Precepts and the Eight-fold “Right” paths and reincarnation based on actions?
10. Is it true that Buddhism teaches that we are in reality an aspect of God and in some respects less than real as an individual? If so, how did this metaphysical amnesia arise and come to pervade and dominate our whole experience?
11. How can we know that the world of our senses is an illusion (not real) unless we know a backdrop of reality against which we can make this judgment?
12. Does not the goal to eliminate all desire involve the desire to eliminate all desire?
13. If we should eliminate all desire, how about the desire to have children, help others, enjoy life, and experience nirvana?
14. Would it not be better to redirect desire to God who alone can fulfill than to eliminate all desire (Matthew 4:4; 5:6; 6:33)?
Questions for Those in Taoist/Buddhist Folk Religions
1. Who sets the standard for goodness? Would it ever be possible for you to reach that standard?
2. What will you be in the next life? Arc you confident that you will make it there?
3. Who can assure you of that final destination and destiny?
4. Do you think there is a way to be certain what the heavens want so that we can please them?
5. Do you think offering food to your dead ancestors once a year will be enough?
6. Do you know how long you will have to do this until your ancestor is reborn?
7. When will you know when you can stop offering the paper money?
8. Should there not be a way to keep one’s descendants, who are still on earth, informed so as not to waste their time and money? Otherwise, the paper money will be pocketed by someone not related to you, and you will not even know about it.
9. Would you like to hear about the One and Only God, Shang Ti, whom even the great Chinese emperors worshipped?