Fellow blogger Bob Seidensticker says that Christian conferences are missing out on a valuable opportunity by not inviting atheist speakers:
To me, their refusal to invite one means that conference organizers don’t trust their material to carry the day. They’re afraid that they’ll get embarrassed or upstaged or that the attendees would get freaked out or overwhelmed with material that’s just too real.
But then how well do they prepare attendees? If the conference must tiptoe through the material to avoid the difficult topics, how will newly minted apologists do when they get out and talk to real, live atheists? If you hope that God will give you the right words as he did with Moses, you are setting yourself up for embarrassment.
It’s a fair point. Especially at conferences where they talk about atheists, why not invite some local ones to share their thoughts about a predetermined topic?
I’ve seen it work really well the other way around, where Christians were invited to speak at atheist conferences (usually in the context of a debate). The Christians who were invited weren’t punching bags. They were well-educated representatives of their faith who offered an alternative point of view. Did they change any minds? Not to my knowledge. But it was a wonderful way of showing that our side wasn’t afraid of a challenge. Even when it wasn’t a debate, but a panel, it was refreshing to a hear a voice that didn’t just nod and agree with everyone else.
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