By Elias Ayala (MDiv & M.A.T.)
A scoffer is someone who jeers or mocks or treats something with contempt or calls it out in derision. Notice that sound argumentation has no part in this definition. The ability to scoff at an argument is not equal to a logical and rational argument against someone’s position. Often times scoffing is a cheap substitute for rational argumentation.
As Christian apologists and rational thinkers we need to be careful not to be persuaded by cheap emotional debating tricks. When we present arguments in favor of the Christian position we need to challenge the unbeliever to rationally respond to the argument instead of merely making fun of the conclusion. To make fun of a conclusion without providing a rational justification for its falsehood demonstrates shallowness of thinking and a sort of narrow mindedness that skeptics often accuse Christians of demonstrating.
When the believer says that there are rational reasons for believing in God, the accusation that to believe in God is equivalent to believing in Leprechauns or fairies is not itself an argument against the existence of God. Indeed, if anything, it is a demonstration that the scoffer does not understand the metaphysical differences between a finite and limited creature like a leprechaun or a fairy and an infinite metaphysically necessary creator God.
When a skeptic scoffs at your belief in God, challenge them to respond to the actual arguments you make, and not merely scoff at your position. Anyone can scoff, indeed, even Christians scoff sometimes at the positions of the skeptic, but such scoffing does not help the Christian case because as was mentioned earlier, scoffing has nothing to do with demonstrating or refuting someone’s position.
If genuine communication is to be had between believer and skeptic, we need to do more then lazily laugh and make fun of the other person’s position; we need to engage in logical and rational discourse and allow a fair and clear presentation of opposing views to be presented so as to demonstrate the truth and rationality of one’s position. As a word to fellow Christian apologists: Just because the unbeliever may scoff at your position, this does not give us an excuse to follow suit. Allow the strength of your position be clearly seen through your argumentation, and allow the shallowness of the opponents position be seen in his/her scoffing. If that’s the best they’ve got, then our point is made.