how an atheist reaches out to a believer

atheism and belief cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

I like the writing of Steven Olsen. For example, his recent post, “Gorilla’s, Starship Commanders and Your Brain” is a good read. Interesting and informative. And I like his sense of humor. Olsen writes for the atheist channel at Patheos. I read atheist writers and blogs for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is that I believe many atheists help to keep me honest. I have an inner atheist and so I think it wise to take care of that part of me. They can also teach me how to communicate what I mean more clearly.

He wrote an article a while back, “About That Personal Experience of Yours”. I was smiling as I read it because I felt like I was back in Personal Evangelism class in Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri… which is where Olsen lives actually. He gives instructions on how to communicate with a believer; how to “debate with a theist”; how to “guide someone out of a belief”; how to “reach” believers effectively. So it’s about evangelism.

Olsen describes for atheists how Christians believe:

  1. Religion doesn’t have evidence so it relies on experience for validation.
  2. These experiences, though meaningful to believers, aren’t testable.
  3. Since they are not testable, they are “indistinguishable from a fabrication”.
  4. So the believer must demonstrate why God should be more real than Bigfoot.
  5. Specifically, Christianity’s god is cruel for creating Hell for unbelievers as well as immoral since he hides from them.
  6. Worse, since Christians believe in the Devil, how do they know their spiritual experience isn’t just a deception?
  7. No matter how convincing your logic is, they may return to superstition because of the meaningfulness of their experiences.

I’ve never understood how some atheists leap from God to Bigfoot. Some ideas or theories are valid to consider and others are not. I think the possible existence of God, or the idea of God, or the theory of God, is more valid to explore than the possible existence of Bigfoot, or the idea of Bigfoot, or the theory of Bigfoot. Some ideas, some possibilities, have better legs than others. I agree that experiences do not prove the existence of God, but I am not willing to entirely dismiss them as irrelevant to the case, along with all the theories about the idea of God or those that thought or think them.

I also find it curious how quickly and easily some atheists solve the age old problem of evil. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus stated the argument this way:

  1. If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.

But that isn’t the end of the argument. Epicurus’ is not the only solution on the table. There are all kinds of others theories out there. His argument might appear logical, but many thinkers down through the ages have challenged the first part of the equation and wrestled with the problem of evil along with the possibility of the existence of God. It continues today. If the first part is faulty then the rest of the logic fails. This whole area of thought is called theodicy and has been going on for centuries. We are allowed to ignore all other arguments but Epicurus’, but I think we would be placing unreasonable restrictions on our minds.

G. K. Chesterton had something to say about this:

“Spiritual doctrines do not actually limit the mind as do materialistic denials. Even if I believe in immortality I need not think about it. But if I disbelieve immortality I must not think about it. In the first case the road is open and I can go as far as I like; in the second the road is shut.”

Chesterton’s concern is with free will and freedom of thought. He believed spiritual doctrines opened the mind to a limitless freedom of possibilities, whereas the other is “the worst chain that ever fettered a human being” because without free thought you don’t have free will.

One experiences the Divine one day and experiences evil another. Which is more or less real than the other? How is this testable or measurable? How are these confirmed? Many say there is no Divine. Many say there is no evil. Who judges who is right or wrong? And how?

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the article because, like I said, it was interesting to see how an atheist would try to convert a believer. It reminded me that, in many ways, atheists and believers are the same. Everyone believes their religion, belief or philosophy is the right one or they wouldn’t embrace it, and, therefore, everyone believes that everyone else should subscribe to it or they wouldn’t themselves. But, even though Olsen is obviously trying to be gracious, there is a slight tone of condescension in the article that smells like the condescension some believers have towards atheists. Like some believers talk about atheists, Olsen talks about believers like they have a mental illness and need to be treated with pity. He closes:

“Every single believer is different and you won’t reach them unless you tailor your argument to who they are, and acknowledge that while you have good reasons not to believe, that doesn’t diminish the effect the event had on them. Your logic will have better mileage when you mix it with empathy.”

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  • That’a a very interesting take. I’ve not really encountered evangelical atheists, just the living life sort that mirror my life. As we have mutual respect, and are not actively trying to ‘win’ each other we gain credibility which leads to a closer relationship. It’s only through a close relationship that they might be able to truly understand and share in any experience I may encounter in life. That’s my take anyway, to each their own.

  • Pat68

    Welllll, BigFoot DOES exist, so……. 😛

  • I’m not keen on evangelism from any quarter – it would be great to live in a world in which one’s spirituality and one’s belief system aren’t things you must insist that others join in order to feel that they are valid, or in order to hold that other person in high esteem.

    To me, trying to base a belief system on proof doesn’t work either way in discussing whether a spiritual realm does or does not exist.

    Some of the points raised by the numbered critique are excellent, but true the tone becomes less useful and condescending with some of the points (and I love that Hayward raises the point that this is no doubt the way the author feels he has been treated). But the Problem of Human Suffering is a huge thing to come to terms with in any belief system – and it is certainly a point everyone has to address in thinking about their own beliefs.

    Many useful points are raised in the discussion – being open to the discussion is so enriching!

  • “I think the possible existence of God, or the idea of God, or the theory of God, is more valid to explore than the possible existence of Bigfoot, or the idea of Bigfoot, or the theory of Bigfoot.”

    As an atheist, I’d say the exact opposite. The evidence for gods is next to nonexistent and the existence of same would violate many known laws of physics; any wild large bipedal mammal near the NW US would qualify as “bigfoot”, which might be a bit surprising but wouldn’t require a reassessment of what we know about the universe. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and all that.

  • I have always enjoyed your posts, but was very disappointed with this one. You have sought out what you acknowledge as weak arguments and refuted them (some better than others), a straw man approach all the way around.

  • “if I disbelieve immortality I must not think about it.” …This is nonsense from Chesterton. I do not believe in a god or gods, but I am fascinated by religious thought, hence my following of your blog. Also, I experience from time to time two types of what I consider to be extraordinary mental states. One is an oceanic bliss where the burden of the ego slips away; the other is the sensation that a beam of energy is shooting right up my spine and connecting to a hub of other energy. I could label these neural sensations “God” and stop thinking about them, but my curiosity runs much deeper.

  • Exactly. If you consider a sentient, ephemeral, supernatural being more plausible than an elusive descendant of Old Apes, you may want to re-evaluate a few things.

    Yes, Bigfoot would force us to modify our map of known species, but it wouldn’t completely invalidate the Standard Model and all of our working assumptions about the observed properties of the natural world.

  • klhayes

    You could write many opposing labels in the brains of each person with the same bubble!

  • Joey Reid

    Dave, I need to point out a couple of problems with your response.

    “I’ve never understood how some atheists leap from God to Bigfoot. Some ideas or theories are valid to consider and others are not.”

    You are asserting that somehow the idea of God is superior to the idea of Bigfoot. You follow this sentence (the rest of the paragraph) with the same statement 3 more times, with no explanation as to why you feel this way. This is why atheists use Bigfoot, or UFOs, or “quantum healing” to compare with God. You find the idea of God more compelling than Bigfoot, but you cannot tell me why. Someone who believes he has seen Bigfoot out behind his house will most likely find the idea of Bigfoot more compelling than you do. You are essentially making a value judgement based on your experience, which is Steven’s whole point.

    “I also find it curious how quickly and easily some atheists solve the age old problem of evil.”

    Atheists do NOT solve the problem of evil. It’s not a problem for the atheist, it’s a problem for the theist. You quote Epicurus, but do not provide the (probably misattributed) quote which actually illustrates his trilemma (which must be established for the first premise which you are objecting to:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

    Which part of this argument do you find weak?

  • I am an atheist — or at least I was labeled such by believers in the USA when I returned from Asia. And I am evangelical with believers who have pernicious ideas against non-believers, women, homosexuals, or science, for instance. Or I may try to change the mind of a believer that thinks they are more moral, bound for a better afterlife or a better citizen because of their beliefs.

    But religion is much bigger than beliefs. And if a person’s religion is not bound with these evil memes, and it helps them and enriches their lives, then I am happy for them. But it is surprising how many of the above mentioned bad aspects of religion are present even in the apparently most liberal believers. I have many believer friends who, fortunately, there is no need but to support each other is all our activities and thoughts.

  • Polly Gonzalez

    The evidence for God is plenty. Why not read books about evidence for god instead of ones saying there’s no evidence. You’ll find a balanced opinion that way somewhere in the middle. Scott Hahn is a good place to start 🙂

  • I don’t consider any of it to be convincing evidence. If such evidence exists, it doesn’t explain why there are still so many atheists and so many polytheists and so many believers in other incompatible gods.

    Evidence that’s genuinely convincing will propagate just like the idea that the earth orbits the sun — at first, almost nobody believed it, but as more and better evidence was found, more and more people changed their minds until now practically everyone agrees that the earth orbits the sun, even though this is diametrically opposed to people’s beliefs a few centuries ago.

    Religions have had millennia, yet there is still no consensus on even basic ideas like the number of gods that exist, much less any attributes they might have. Thousands of years of failing to even come up with one claim that everyone agrees on is enough for me to dismiss the field entirely.

  • “These experiences … aren’t testable.”
    That really is the end of that discussion, the rest is just noise.

    After that full stop – everything is subjective, any further attempt of proof by logic or otherwise is a waste of time.

    I agree ‘Bigfoot’ is a fatuous point, a more logical (but still ultimately futile) avenue would be to discuss why Jesus is more real than Odin, Jehova, Zeus or any number or rainforest deiites.

    If you want to discuss anything with logic, you may as well try and analyse how ritualised superstition has helped or hindered cultures to survive.

  • Adam Julians

    You mentioned “Olsen talks about believers like they have a mental illness and need to be treated with pity.” Previously you have mentioned that on the atiest site there was mocking about Christians in that it was said that it woudn’t hurt to have a few idiots around.

    I hear the concerns expressed about condescention between Chrstians and Aitheists and previously the talk of high school behaviour and the difference between mocking and satirising.

    it was thought provoking for me to consider the high horse cartoon you did a while ago in a simlar theme to this one with the way the conversation is depicted.

    My thoughts go to the mocking of Jesus with the robe and the crown of thorns, and the beating he received. And the mocking of those who said you saved others why don’t you save yourself of him when he way on the cross. What was his interaction with that? “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”.

    I think also of what Jesus said at the beattitutes about being blessed when people insult you because you are Christs’ followers for there is a great reward kept in heaven for you. And that this is how the prophets were treated.

    It is important to keep such tings in mind in conversations to show grace (Col 4:6). If someone is going to insult then it is a lot more difficult for them to do so if you are not acting like an idiot! If you are acting like an idiot – then maybe it’s a good thing they are bing insulting.

    I know there are times when i have recived insults because of wrong doing on my part and times because of right doing. i find it helpful to think of others intent on insulting whether I am doing right or wrong as them being like sandpaper. I become smooth by that, bt Chirst working in me and the sandpaper wears itself out!

  • Msironen

    “Chesterton’s concern is with free will and freedom of thought. He believed spiritual doctrines opened the mind to a limitless freedom of possibilities, whereas the other is“the worst chain that ever fettered a human being” because without free thought you don’t have free will.”

    Couple things about free will theodicy:

    First of all, it is sort of question-begging to simply treat free will as a given. Science doesn’t support the classical, contra-causal notion of free will and philosophers have also abandoned it in droves, preferring a deterministic notion of free will called compatibilism. Basically, a version of free will that practically requires God or some other supernaturalism does not make a good argument for the existence of such God.

    Another problem with the free will defence actually arises from Christian doctrine itself, namely the notion of Heaven. If there is free will in Heaven but no evil, that goes to show that God can in fact create worlds with both free will and no evil. If on the other hand there is no free will in Heaven, it obviously cannot be such an important thing after all. In either case, it makes our corporeal existence look like a somewhat dubious experiment at best.

    “One experiences the Divine one day and experiences evil another. Which is more or less real than the other? How is this testable or measurable? How are these confirmed? Many say there is no Divine. Many say there is no evil. Who judges who is right or wrong? And how?”

    This just seems like an exceedingly silly exercise in sophistry. It can however be deflated quite easily by changing “evil” to something more tangible but just as problematic; gratuitous suffering for example. Anyone denying the existence of that can always be set right with a quick slap or two on the cheek.

  • problem is simple.

    You can’t have a rationale discussion with a believer…Rationale and logic means breaking down the evidence in light of reality and conforming your beliefs to these…Religion is not rational…it depends vastly on Faith which is ABSENT of evidence. Faith is the opposite of rational.

    For instance – You can throw as much evidence against a god disproving it…lets say Thor for example…but if someone has faith in Thor…your communication is mute. No matter what you say, how much you can disprove it is just Greek myth, they will continue believing it.

    Atheists are open to evidence (that’s the reason why most likely we are atheists) …If there was sound logical evidence for a god and not just bad fallacies thrown around by apologists we of course would be on board with that. Many atheists I would say wouldn’t mind the concept of a god being real and heaven etc…But we aren’t willing to ignore reality to stroke a belief which is not plausible in light of evidence and what we understand already about reality.

  • Darn. I always try to hit a homerun. This one didn’t make the fence. I’ll admit it. But the main emphasis of my post is the evangelism slant… how it sounds the same as a believer’s approach to reaching out to an atheist. I should have kept it to that. What I do try to do however is hopefully remove what I think are obstacles to communication between believers and atheists. I also would have used The Spaghetti Monster as an example but Olsen used Bigfoot so I stuck with that. Anyway, I want to thank everyone for your comments. Fascinating discussion.

    Also, I apologize for my delay in responding. I’m still trying to get used to the Disqus format.

  • In other words… maybe I should stick to drawing 😉

  • Polly Gonzalez

    Well, you’re free to believe how you want to believe Brian 🙂

    But I will leave this discussion with the loose paraphrase that if God was small enough to be understood then He wouldn’t be big enough to worship. Thomas Aquinas said that humans are never satisfied with the truth they find, they continue to search more and more for the truth. It’s in our nature to long for the truth. We even have the God gene… In fact we have the Shroud of Turin, the Lady of Guadelupe… et cetera.

    Martyrs, the worlds largest charities, universities, missionaries, hospitals, etc were all inspired by something bigger than ourselves.

    Again, I mean no disrespect. Your thoughts are interesting so don’t think I rolled my eyes at your arguments, they made me pensive.

  • “But I will leave this discussion with the loose paraphrase that if God was small enough to be understood then He wouldn’t be big enough to worship.”

    I’m not even talking about “understood”, I’m talking about not even a shred of evidence for gods.

    “In fact we have the Shroud of Turin, the Lady of Guadelupe… et cetera.”

    Both frauds.

    “Martyrs, the worlds largest charities, universities, missionaries, hospitals, etc were all inspired by something bigger than ourselves.”

    Correction: by people who believed there was something bigger than ourselves. That isn’t evidence that their beliefs were true, only sincere.

  • I actually love what you’re saying here. I can’t even begin to tell you how much on the mark you are.

    I’m not exactly an atheist; I’m a former Christian. Former because I don’t believe that someone who doesn’t live the Bible should claim to be a Christian. After all, the word Christian means “Christ-like.”

    Now before all of the Christians out there give me the “no one can be perfect” speech, let me stop you right there. When I say “Christ-like” I mean at least acting like you’re trying to live the Scriptures. All of the scriptures too, not just the ones that say gays are going to hell or abortion is murder, or whatever other splinter you’re picking at while you beat the rest of us to death with the plank in your own eye.

    If God is love, then why don’t I see more love in Christians’ words and deeds?

    My problem with “Christians” these days is that they act so superior and hateful when challenged. I’ve been shocked many times over when a “Christian” is calling non-believers all manner of names and, as you say, “acting like an idiot.”

    My usual response to these *ahem* people is to quote Scripture. I mean, if Jesus loved his enemies and you’re calling people names, perhaps you should take a long hard look at yourself. Are you really showing God’s love, or are you giving Christianity a bad name? More often than not, it’s the latter.

    I dare say that Atheists would have very little negative to say about a Christian who kept her mouth shut, lived her life with humility and compassion, served her fellow man, and allowed the pure love of Christ to shine through her. After all, how can you argue with someone who just genuinely wants to do good and serve?

    Those of us who are formerly Christian, spiritual but not religious, or Atheists, hate the hypocrisy most of all. Christians bombing abortion clinics, shaming women as they enter them, holding up signs at soldiers’ funerals, saying gays are hated, calling nonbelievers names, using the Bible as a basis for religious discrimination, using terrible language towards others in your FB comments….and the list goes on and on and on.

    I think Christians lose sight of the fact that the people Jesus befriended, those he had close to him all the time, were the tax collectors, whores, and sinners–not the religious leaders of the day. As you look down upon those who–theoretically–need God the most, you align yourself with the Pharisees. Let’s not forget it was the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law who crucified Jesus.

    People on the outside see this irony quite clearly. It’s those on the inside of the religion, who are so full of their Pharisaic pride, who cannot.

  • Worthless Beast

    I find the Bigfoot comparison a weird one for reasons of category. When people compare God to an invisible dragon or unicorn, it’s annoying (for those of us who see concepts of “God” as being like “Love” or “Art” rather than invisible beareded man), but it at least makes some cultural sense. Bigfoot or aliens… those are different because the people seeking those aren’t seeking anything supernatural, they’re seeking something essentially mundane (biological organisms that haven’t been disocvered yet). There might not be much evidence for Bigfoot, but those looking for the species aren’t seeking something magical or particularly meaningful so much as they think there’s a kind of animal we have yet to classify. It is entirely possible to be an atheist who disdains everything supernatural to spend his time searching for an unknown ape. (or a signal from space, for those who’ve seen the film “Contact”).
    And that’s not even getting into the idea that not all Christians believe in an irrevocable Hell (or that even those that do don’t believe in second chances), or other things we take for granted that are essentially untestable (a painting can be prooven to exist, but is it “Art?”)
    In other words, if someone were to come to me with The List above, I’d know that they aren’t reasonable enough to have a discussion with. In fact, I have met such people online and know for a fact that is the case – It always seems to go with me going “Wait, no, you’re making assumptions about me” and the other party saying that I secretly am like their sterotypes because they’re just plain smarter than me, because….BECAUSE!

  • Brigitte Mueller

    Brian it can’t be proven or disproven. Faith is not believing on having no evidence at all, but without seeing. We all know that there are things visible and invisible and thing our scientific instruments can’t measure, such as even our thoughts. What is a thought? What is consciousness? What are our feelings, needs, hopes, dreams, loves, passions, all the things that really matter. They are not visible. Faith is trusting that there is someone good out there. Someone in my corner. Someone who will help me when I don’t feel like going on. Someone who knows me and understands me. When I feel like discarding faith, I feel the overpowering nihilism and barely feel human. I need to live in relation to a merciful and knowing God.

  • Worthless Beast

    Furthermore… “treating people with pity like they have a mental illness.”
    I actually do have one – I’m bipolar – and nothing PISSES ME THE HELL OFF like people thinking that a bit of emotionality translates to me being stupid. I’ll gladly admit that I’m crazy, but being treated like I’m brainless for it? That will not do.
    So, those that cannot help but look down upon others (whatever the reason, doesn’t have to be religion) and feel like they must “enlighten” those others… how about you shove your pity where the sun don’t shine. Your inferiors are likely smarter than you think they are.

  • Adam Julians

    Hey Krysatl,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I love that you love what I am saying.Of course you are right about the need to be Christ-like. I hear also the response that you are getting with people saying noone can be perfect.

    I’m hearing the doing good and serving that you talk of. Actually, if everyone bought into this way of things – might not call it centred on Christ – but centred on love and motivated by serving and loving, what a beutiful world this would be to live in – is that not true?

    I think the problem we are identifying is this culture of rirhts and freedoms which affects everyone – the Amercan dream if you like. And the human nature – fear or incentives can be strong motivators for things. Unfortunately – the church and Christians are not immune to such temptations in keeping wiht the rest of humanity. I guess the criticism that rightly can be made of Christians is that central to faith is the principle of loving God and loving others – so where is the love you say? where are the words and deeds? It’s a good question.

    What I hear form what you say is finding out the real person when they are challenged – do they respond gracefully and with love, assertively but with dignity when there are disagreements. Or do they engage with hatred and superiority?

    Well – thankfully Westbro Baptist Chruch which you are alluding to and the like wiht the holding up signs at soldiers funerals saying God hates gays and the like is not true of every Chrstian and church. Also I would have to say that part of the words you talk of would not be consistent wiht the Christian who “kept her mounth shut”. Some of the things abuot sharing the gospel is offensive. If in doing good ans shining, sharing the words of scrpture then makes other people feel bad about themselves because they are not like that and choose to insult then that would be the outcome. Peter when he encounteder Jesus at first just wanted him to get away form him. And Jesus was spat on mocked and treated horribly.

    For other atheists with an open mind and heart you talk of having littel negative to say, I am sure that would be true. Jesus was welcomed as a hero on entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

    So – I think to be fair then I would say that just as there can be wrong doing in Christians there can be wrong doing in others too. Its not always as black and white as a lot of people like to think for either side in the debate. And it is easier to be critical of others than of self.

    That aside – I think that the most powerful force in the universe is love. And that I count it a privelidge to have that as central, and be part of doing good works – using gifts, talents etc to serve. What can be better?

    I think when we consider the scriptures we see differing examples of Christians – the church at Corinth that Paul wrote to was doing more harm than good, the church at Antioch was doing good, the church at Ladocia was doing neither good or bad. The thing about human nature is, that it doesn’t change. There are good and bad Christinas, there are good an bad Aitheists.

    We do live in an age of sound bites, rhetoric and sensationalism for good or bad. And the stories that sell newspapers, the voices that get heard very often are the ones courting contarvercy. this lends itsle to conflict and cometition, hatred even. Love on the other hand is a dangerous thing. it means being vulnerable, it takes courage and this side of heaven means facing all kinds of difficulty discomfort and harm. The only way to avoid this is to put up walls – keep people out. But in that, the heart can’t breathe, it will slowly suffcate. The only way to be safe from the dangers of love in this life is in hell.

    It’s natural to want to be safe, comfortable, happy, healthy. So – as you rightly say that it is Christans that need to consider thier words and actions, would you say other groups have that responsibility equally in the interest of healthy conversation?

  • Gary Hendricks

    I have discovered that most atheists claim sole authority over the realms of science and reason and promote a view that belief in a creator is incompatible with them. It is true enough that the pseudo science of young earthers and biblical literalists would seem to support this view. But such uneducated believers do not represent mature belief any more than Westboro Baptists church represents Christian ideals.

    I consider myself a believer who accepts a strong amount of agnosticism in my thinking. But I will push back against the often condescending view that a belief in a creator is incompatible with rational thought and science. In fact there are a number of highly respected scientists who believe scientific study to be fully compatible with a belief in God. Unfortunately there is no shortage of smug condescension on either side of the debate.

  • “Faith is not believing on having no evidence at all, but without seeing.”

    That’s how con men work, too.

    “We all know that there are things visible and invisible and thing our scientific instruments can’t measure, such as even our thoughts.”

    No, we can measure those now.

    “Faith is trusting that there is someone good out there.”

    For no good reason. People don’t have to have faith that China exists, even if they’ve never been there.

    “When I feel like discarding faith, I feel the overpowering nihilism and barely feel human.”

    That’s no evidence that your beliefs are true.

  • Joey Reid

    It is very challenging to be in a position where you believe you have superior knowledge, and it would be beneficial to everyone if you could share it with another. No matter what that knowledge is, it will always be difficult for the person trying to share to not be accused of condescension, arrogance, being unsympathetic, etc. There is a bake shop that recently drew the wrath of social media – they were previously featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (, where it was obvious that the couple was not open to any of the help he was offering. Chef Ramsay was being as gracious as possible, but his words fell on deaf ears.

    For an atheist, there is the additional complication that one of the very things being objected to is the overreaching application of the “Great Commission” – that compels Christians to impose their teachings on society at large. This is why Christians tend to level statements at atheists that look like “You’re an atheist, you have no god to tell you to evangelize. Why are you trying to convince me? Why can’t you leave religion alone?” An accusation of hypocrisy becomes a way to shut down the conversation.

    Steve Olsen is trying to consider these barriers so that non-believers are aware what might be in the head of their audience. The parallels with evangelism would be with what I would call “soft” evangelism. A thoughtful believer (like yourself) would recognize these ideas. But not all (I dare say few) Christians analyze evangelism to the point where they consider technique – they think the Bible speaks for itself, and so they use it as a bludgeon. Alternatively, I think Richard Dawkins would have little patience for Steven’s approach. In all, there are many different ways to communicate an idea – it would be surprising if believers and non-believers did not face the same problems and use the same methods.

    Incidentally, I think that Bigfoot is a better example than the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Russell’s orbiting teapot because many people actually do believe Bigfoot exists, whereas these other are made-up for illustrative purposes (although I agree they are equivalent).