Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Paul Copan's new book, When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics, (Baker Books, 2008).

Coffeehouses are natural places for people to discuss life’s deepest questions. The relaxing atmosphere and sense of community in coffeehouses can encourage lots of enriching conversations. So take advantage of the opportunities you have to talk with your non-Christian friends about God while you’re enjoying coffee, tea, or brownies together.

Here are some answers you can give to questions people often ask about God in coffeehouses:

"Why not just look out for yourself?" Focusing just on what you want is ultimately an empty and trivial desire. Also, your own desires are bound to conflict with what other people want. What will you do then? God’s commands have your best interests in mind; they’re for your good. You harm yourself when you pursue your own agenda apart from God.

"Isn't it okay to do what you want – just as long as you don’t hurt anyone?" Your choices don’t affect just you; they impact everyone around you. If you choose to act against basic moral standards, you’re bound to hurt other people. When you deny moral standards in this way, you contradict yourself because you’re insisting on the moral standards of tolerance and not hurting others while still claiming that moral standards aren’t important.

"Is it okay to lie to Nazis?" While all lying is deceiving, not all deceiving is lying. The Bible mentions several areas where deception is permissible: criminal activity and ruthless oppression, warfare, and light social deception. Certain acts (like adultery, rape, and torturing for fun) are always wrong. But you should also consider the motives, context, and consequences of an act to discern whether it’s right or wrong.

"Why is God so arrogant and egotistical?" God doesn’t demand that people worship and praise Him; He simply inspires them to do so. God is actually so humble that He was willing to leave heaven and come to our fallen world as Jesus to pay the price for our sins. God’s loving acts demonstrate His desire to serve.

"Aren’t miracles unscientific?" Miracles aren’t violations of natural law. They’re direct acts of a personal God that can’t be predicted or explained by merely natural causes or processes. They reveal God’s intervention in the world He has made. No matter how impressive a particular miracle is or how much evidence exists about it, people may still choose to resist it. But miracles do occur, and they’re always possible. Natural law doesn’t control what happens in the world; it simply describes how naturally generally operates. The One who created nature can always choose to override those general principles to accomplish certain purposes.

"Only gullible people believe in miracles, right?" Although extraordinary claims don’t demand extraordinary proof, there’s a wealth of evidence for many of the miracles God has chosen to perform – like Jesus’ resurrection. Miracles shouldn’t be evaluated just on the basis of your own experience, because that would require that you reject anything you haven’t experienced before. Throughout history, many thoughtful people have carefully evaluated miracles and come to accept them as true.


"Don't people from all religions experience God?"
People of any faith or no faith can experience God at some level, such as having a profound sense of God’s presence, holiness, or transcendence. But Christians can know God in deeper ways – ways that lead to their transformation and salvation. While people of other faiths may claim to have encountered God, Christians have the benefit of the Holy Spirit to help them discern what’s true from what’s false.