This is merely an intellectual enterprise, not a “real” interview, but it might be interesting (as well as self-indulgent) to actually carry it out. (Note I said “interviewing” rather than debating because debate is largely impossible.)
- Do you believe the Earth was created?
So, the first thing I would ask was whether the Christian Apologist (hereafter called CA) believed in the biblical creation account. CA would generally answer “yes” and go on and on about “because how the Bible tells me so,” etc. which is fine by me.
- Was magic used to create the Earth?
In science “what” is not always as important as “how.” Causation can only be determined by following a step by step chain of events, one thing inexorably leading to the next, so if the Earth was created as opposed to having an origin steeped in nature, what was the mechanism of this creation, magic? The answer most assuredly would be “no” but unless the words used are completely redefined to mean something they do not to ordinary people, the answer should be “yes.” Magic is a supernatural agency, period. In other words, magic is a cause that does not involve nature.
- The philosopher Nietzsche declared that God was dead; can your god die?
Then I would shift gears: I would ask “the philosopher Nietzsche declared that God was dead; can your god die?” The CA would have to answer “yes” because his god was “undying,” “existed outside of time and space,” etc.
- Since you are a Christian, I suppose the Resurrection is the cornerstone of your belief, no?”
Again, Christians almost have to answer “yes” because the three pillars of Christianity are prophecies, miracles, and the resurrection.
- Do you believe in the Trinity?
The question asks whether CA is a Trinitarian, the odds are high that the answer is “yes.” Basically, this belief indicates that Jesus is one and the same as Yahweh. Not all Christians have believed this with the two largest non-Trinitarians sects being the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Unitarians used to be more popular but it is hard going against the mainstream.
- If you believe Jesus is God and God cannot die, how could Jesus have died, let alone be resurrected?
Assuming CA is a Trinitarian the trap laid has been sprung.
You can see how this goes. I could ask who resurrected Jesus. I could ask why God chose a forbidden practice, human sacrifice, for His saving us from our sin. I could ask why God created sin in the first place? I could ask why he forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, knowing full well they would disobey Him. I could ask why He made Adam and Eve that way? I could ask is there were free will in Heaven, which is, of course, impossible, and if there is none in Heaven, why was it so important for us to have it on Earth?
I went through this exercise to show why this line of argument is counterproductive. No sane person would maintain the set of beliefs being challenged rationally. This is why believers do not allow rational challenges to their beliefs. Their belief is quite impervious to reason.
This is why there needs to be emotional arguments to free people from the grip of irrational beliefs, but more importantly there need to be replacements for the social supports their religions provide. We may snicker at terms like “fellowship” and “surrender” but these are powerful social forces. Until we start making more emotional arguments and coming up with secular supports that rival those offered by churches it will be a long uphill slog prying loose the grip religion has on people’s hearts and minds.
Or we could just wait until the generations coming get so involved in their smartphones that they won’t notice anything going on off of them. That may work, too.