I was on a Christian radio show this afternoon. It’s not the first time I’ve done a show like this. Some experiences are good (i.e. the Life Today TV show that will air in a couple weeks). Others, not so much (i.e. Kirk Cameron’s radio show).
Normally, in these situations, the hosts don’t have a chance to read the book. That’s to be expected. However, they do get the synopsis. And the back cover of the book doesn’t take very long to read… it’s usually enough to hold a conversation about the book. I mean, the host’s main job is to ask questions.
What bothered me in this case was that the host was more interested in how I could possibly be an atheist than what I actually wrote about in the book.
At this point, most of you are thinking this is obvious. I’m not so naïve that I didn’t think this would happen at all, but I had a glimmer of hope when I checked out the host’s website and saw that his past guests included a number of prominent scientists and atheists. So I figured there must be some real conversations occurring. Hell, a quick search of the host’s name on Google didn’t reveal anything too bad.
But I gave him too much credit.
I spent quite a bit of my 45 minutes on the air getting lectured about how the first and second laws of thermodynamics meant that there must be a God since they both violate Science-as-we-know-it. There are simple explanations for both of these supposed “violations,” but the point I want to make is that I wasn’t there to explain how the universe came into existence or how evolution works (the host also brought out the Watchmaker argument). If you want to have those conversations, then bring on a real scientist. I was there to talk about my church-going experiences; that aspect was almost entirely ignored.
I tried to hold my own and I think I did ok in that respect, but really, I just should’ve been more assertive up front about not getting into a technical scientific discussion. That’s not what I was there to talk about. This wasn’t an issue of me being “too friendly” to object– I just felt obligated to offer some explanations to what was being said, and in the process, I lost sight of why I was there. As a result, it was nearly the end of the show before we began to talk about the book itself.
One listener emailed me shortly after my appearance and had this to say:
Good job today… As you can tell [the host] loves to overplay his understanding of science and exaggerate his record of overcoming the explanations of those few qualified scientists he allows to share his air time. He had on Francis Collins, shortly after he was quoted in Time Magazine as saying the evidence for evolution was “utterly compelling.” Did they discuss [the host's] favorite topic, evolution? No. It’s was Collins’ transition to becoming a Believer, of course.
Maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad. But why is it so hard to find Christian talk show hosts that simply accept that I’m an atheist and want to have a normal discussion? It’s happened before. It happens on this blog fairly regularly. Why doesn’t it happen more often?
The whole thing ended with the host giving me his “evidence” that God exists: For so long he had an abnormal heart beat. Then, one day, his girlfriend (now his wife) prayed for him and instantly his heartbeat became normal. How did I explain that?
I tried explaining that there were a number of logical reasons for this (there could have been a biological explanation, it very well could have been a coincidence, etc.) but when it was clear he would have none of it, I just brought the conversation back to the book.
The whole experience was frustrating. I was all excited at first to have real dialogue with the Christian host, but he wanted something entirely different.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, Life Today, Kirk Cameron, Google, laws of thermodynamics, Francis Collins, Time Magazine[/tags]