Arguing with Atheists

There’s a very big difference between, on the one hand, making a theological, philosophical, or scientific argument for the existence of God and, on the other hand, making a personal statement about why you still believe in God despite your doubts. Those are two very different types of communication.

I am keenly aware of the difference. I’ve written many posts here that are the former, and I’ve got an entire chapter already written for a forthcoming book that is along those lines, arguing with Aquinas’s famous “Five Ways.”

Yesterday’s post was surely not that. Yesterday’s post was the latter, an honest accounting of one of the several reasons that I continue to profess faith in God, in spite of the fact that I am beset with doubt.

But the biggest atheist blogger in the world picked it up, mocked it, told his readers that I had made the worst argument for the existence of God that he’d ever read, and pointed them here. They came, they told me I’m an idiot, and they left. (It’s shocking — shocking, I tell you! — that atheists don’t find one of my reasons for belief compelling.) I don’t imagine they’ll be back anytime soon.

So it goes in the blogosphere these days.

For those of you still reading, I was simply trying to say this: One of the reasons that I continue to have faith is that so many in the world do; so many — the vast majority, by anyone’s reckoning — that I cannot help but pay attention to that. I don’t think that all those people who believe in the divine, and all the billions who’ve preceded us on this plant who have believed similarly, are stupid lemmings. I think their belief deserves enough respect that I cannot shuck it off so very easily.

Take it or leave it. But I stand by it.

“Why Are You Still a Christian?”

Faith and doubt coexist for Jay Bakker.

That was the question asked to me yesterday by a dear friend as we drove to lunch. And it’s a good one.

As I’ve written recently, I’m disheartened by the number of friends of mine who are no longer theists. The latest is Ryan Bell, who is starting a Year Without God (I blame AJ Jacobs for all the “Year Of…” madness; I think that meme has pretty much run its course). Ryan is a former pastor, and now a former instructor at Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University. (In a post about being let go from those positions, he says that Christian institutions of higher learning are afraid of faculty asking tough questions. I have not found that to be the case at Fuller, though I do have my concerns about other schools. Fuller has continued to employ me in spite of the objections raised by several high profile alumni.) Is Ryan really living as an atheist for the year? Some atheists don’t think so.

But back to the question my friend asked me. As someone beset with doubts, she wondered what it is that keeps me Christian. I have several answers to the question — many of which relate specifically to Jesus of Nazareth — but here’s the one reason that’s most significant to me these days:

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A Friendly Atheist Critique of Evangelical Acceptance of Gays

Fellow Patheos mega-blogger, Hemant Mehta, watched my video on evangelicals like Rob Bell and Jim Wallis coming around on marriage equality, and he has some thoughts of his own:

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The True Colors of the New Atheists

Richard Dawkins thinks that if you believe religious things, you cannot be a journalist. (photo: Murdo Macleod)

Andrew Brown lays bare the hypocrisy of Richard Dawkins:

Richard Dawkins and Twitter make one of the world’s great pairings, like face and custard pie. But whereas more accomplished clowns ram custard pies into the faces of their enemies, Dawkins’ technique is to ram his own face into the custard pie, repeatedly. I suppose it saves time and it’s a lot of fun to watch. On Sunday afternoon he was at it again, wondering why the New Statesman employs an imaginative and believing Muslim:

“Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed [sic] flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist.”

But this is only half the fun. The real comedy comes when he lifts his face from the pie, dripping scorn and custard, to glare at the audience who can’t see how very rational he is. Because there are some people who don’t understand that everything Dawkins says illuminates the beauty of reason.

Read the rest: Richard Dawkins’ latest anti-Muslim Twitter spat lays bare his hypocrisy

So, by extension, no one who believes any religious creed is fit to be a journalist.


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