Matt Dominick and I were heading back to his house after we had driven up to Twain Harte to help my daughter get out of some snow where she was stuck. Actually, she was not stuck, but just in a place that was downhill, steep and icy. Could not blame her for not wanting to try it.
After getting her out, Matt and I headed back to his house. Near Twain Heart proper were two guys with several bags of groceries standing on the side of the road with their thumbs out. One of them, (the older of the two), was also waving a five dollar bill to entice the passing motorists. I was not surprised when Matt pulled over and told them to get in. Not because they were waving money in the air, but because Matt has a heart for helping those in need.
They piled in the back, along with their bags from the local food closet. First one in was young, late teens or early twenties. The other fellow was probably in his late forties or fifties; he did the talking. First thing out of his mouth was thanking us for the ride because he had to get to Sonora because his son was in jail. Matt pulled away and started driving. They told Matt where they wanted to go, which was only about 10 minutes away.
I asked their names and introduced myself and Matt. Turning toward the back seat, I began to ask questions about where they lived and how long. As I said before, the older fellow was doing most of the talking, sharing his opinions on a variety of topics. Most of it was on the various food closets he frequents. He held the one in Columbia in high regard, due in part to the hot showers they offer to the homeless. He was easy to talk to because he was more than happy to share his opinion.
The conversation changed to places they had lived before. The younger man shared he lived in Mexico for a couple years, and then a year in San Diego. The older fellow named several locations, but he was not happy about being back in Twain Harte. I asked if he returned to Twain Harte because of family. He said all of his family was dead, long gone. So I asked him where they went. He paused for a moment, looking at me and repeated they were all dead and had been for a long time. I asked him again, pointedly, where they went. He thought for a moment and said, “Heaven I guess.” I asked him why he thought that.
He really did not have an answer, but he was bold in sharing he did not believe in Jesus and God. He did believe in some kind of ‘force’ or mystical power that we would all end up going to, or being part of. It sounded very New Age or Hinduistic as he attempted to describe his belief. I had several openings to choose from and opted to share my thoughts on God.
I asked them if they had heard of the Big Bang. They had, and I explained that if we had a Big Bang, you need a Big Banger. I shared in greater detail that time must have had a beginning, because time can’t go back infinitely. I then shared a story I have used before in my blog that helps explain the concept of time going back forever, and why it is not possible.
I described a scene where if we were walking along a parkway and as we approached a man sitting on a park bench, we heard him counting up from negative numbers, “…negative four, negative three, negative two, negative one, zero!” When the man reached zero, he leaped up from the bench and began jumping up and down yelling, “I did it! I did it!”
Of course we would ask, “Did what?”
The man grinning, triumphantly replied, “It took me a long time, but I finally counted up from negative infinity to zero!” 1
When I finished the example, I asked the two passengers, “What would you think?” The older fellow said nothing, but I was looking the younger man. He was engaged and listening to me. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. I replied for him, “You would think he is crazy.” He immediately smiled and nodded in agreement. “So would I” I said. I explained you can’t count to infinity, and you can’t count up from infinity. Every time someone said they reached infinity, (where you would start), you could just add another zero.
The younger man was taking it in, I could tell the gears were turning and he was considering something he never heard before, or if he had, at least was giving it some thought for the first time.
I went on to explain that we also have scientific evidence that also suggests our universe, and time, had a beginning. I asked them if they heard of the 2nd law of thermodynamics? They nodded and I went on explaining that our universe is moving toward equilibrium. Heat, pressure, density are in the process of breaking down. For example, our sun is burning up hydrogen, but it has not been doing so forever. Same holds for other suns in other solar systems, and other suns in other galaxies. Someone lit the match, but the match can’t keep burning; it will use up its energy. All of it, including time, had a beginning.
When I was done, the younger fellow seemed reflective, but the older man was dismissive. He asked if there was a God, then who made God? I told him that was a good question, and explained we could ask who made the God that made God. I pointed out it was an infinite regression. Just like time can’t go backwards forever, we can’t keep asking who made God.
The older man changed his tact, giving up on proving there is no God. “Well, if there is a God” he said, “he did a poor job, and better clean up this f***ing mess!” He went on to give examples of the evil in the world and how screwed up everything is.
I agreed; there is a lot of evil in the world, and asked the older man, “Could He start with you?” He replied with more examples of evil in the world – he missed my point. I asked him again if God could start with him, cleaning up the evil in the world. He hesitated and answered my question by saying that Ozzy Osbourne should be put in charge, laughing he said, “He could clean things up!”
More to the point, he could clean things up to the satisfaction of the older man. He could continue to live life the way he wanted. No hindering rules, no responsibility, no accountability, no justice, or at least justice according to his play book.
The young man looked confused for a moment and asked, “Who is Ozzy Osbourne?” The old man replied, “It does not matter.” He was right about that. No one could clean things up to the satisfaction of the older man, unless it was someone who would see every sin, every shortcoming, every fault as he did. Of course we can’t find anyone who would agree with us on every matter within our own world view. Even Christians don’t agree on issues such as the death penalty, abortion, gun control, and same sex marriage.
We had arrived at their destination and they piled out with their groceries and thanked Matt for the ride. Possibly I gave them something to think about, maybe not. But it was a good example of what you can do with apologetics in a conversation, and point unbelievers, or skeptics, toward God.
1. Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York, Riverhead Books, 2008. Print.
He could clean things up by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.knowingforsure.com.