Dan Barker, the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, used to be a fundamentalist evangelical preacher. He writes all about it in his book Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists.
In the latest Secular Student Alliance newsletter, he explains the mindset of a fundamentalist:
It would be your lucky day when God directed you to sit next to me on a bus.
Maybe you didn’t consciously admit that you wanted the truth I was offering, but after sensing the Spirit of God in my words, you would realize that, “Yes, this is what I have been yearning for!” You were merely living in “the world,” and I was handing you the privilege to leave that sad, lowly, hopeless, empty domain and move into God’s fraternity. What a blessing that there were people like me on campus who had the goodness and courage to make you such a wonderful invitation.It was more than that, of course, but you get the idea. You probably thought I was a kook, but I knew I was a humble servant of the creator of the universe, so laugh all you want…
It seems hopeless.
They won’t listen to reason or logic.
So is there any way to get them to listen to you?
Yes, there is, says Dan:
It would seem that a true two-way dialogue between fundamentalists and nonbelievers, with radically different approaches to epistemology, is difficult, maybe impossible. But I am going to tell you exactly what you could have said to me that would have made a difference, things that I now wish someone had told me years ago.
You can check out his advice at the Secular Student Alliance website.