Some months ago, a well-known media figure invited me to dinner. “Come talk to me about God,” he said. Soon my friend (we’ll call him Tom) was sitting across from me in a posh New York restaurant.

I had no clue to the tough intellectual battle that was brewing.

“I don’t believe in God,” Tom told me straight out. “But I’d like to hear what you have to say.” He was trying to maintain his newsman’s cultivated air of cynicism, but his eyes were eager. He was obviously searching.

I started telling my testimony, but Tom cut me off. “I know your story,” he said. “Obviously Jesus worked for you.” And he told of a friend who was into New Age spirituality.

“Crystals, channeling—it worked for her,” Tom beamed. “Just like your Jesus.”

No, no, I tried to explain. Jesus is a historical person who actually lived and died. But Tom shrugged it off; his friend’s guru is a real person, too.

So I switched gears. Tom had suffered health problems; surely he had wondered about death and the afterlife. But again he cut in. “Heaven is a myth invented in primitive times,” he declared. “Today we know humans are just another species of animal. When they die, that’s the end.”

I switched to Scripture, but Tom held up his hand. “I’ve studied the Bible,” he said; “wonderful collection of ancient fables.”

I offered arguments for the Bible’s historical validity, but Tom still wasn’t buying. “Some parts might be historical,” he acknowledged, “but no intelligent person today can believe in miracles.”

By now I had been working (that’s the only word for it) nearly an hour without finding a chink in Tom’s armor. As I fumbled with my fork, an idea popped to mind. “Have you seen Woody Allen’s movie Crimes and Misdemeanors?”

Yes, he had. It’s about a doctor who hires a killer ...

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