Video on technology and innovation for a Christian high school.

Recently, Hemant forwarded me the following email.

Hi Hemant,

My name is Noah, and I teach at a Christian school in Memphis, TN. The school is called Evangelical Christian School … yes, I know that this sounds like “Christian Christian School,” but the school was founded when Evangelical was a rather new word within Christian circles.

All that aside, I have a random question / request of you that you can either tackle yourself or pass it on to someone who might be interested.

A few weeks ago, I tried to contact the person who has a youtube chanel called Theoreticalbullshit. He’s an atheist who’s posted tons of videos about his issues with Christianity. I’ve watched most of them. I wrote him, because I wanted to know if he would be willing to make a short clip for our school.

A little background. Yes, I teach at a Christian school, and yes, I teach Bible and Philosophy (from a Christian perspective). However, off and on for the last 7 years, I’ve been meeting with a group of atheists in a healthy conversation. We meet weekly, and my level of commitment has been quite high at times to rather low right now – based upon stages of my children’s lives. Over that time, I’ve come to welcome the atheists in the group as close friends; I reference them routinely at school. This relationship has often caused me to defend the atheist … which has to be done regularly with students raised with very narrow, or dogmatic, perspectives: “no, atheists are not anarchists;” “no, they aren’t all ‘liberal;’” “no, atheists don’t hate Christians.” Etc. It’s caused me to be more compassionate, to understand the reasoning for disbelief, and it’s sharpened my own ability to articulate what I believe in a non-aggressive way. All that to say, I love the debate. I love the dialogue. And, I’m also convinced that my students ought be exposed to other views. Cognitive dissonance has to be part of the learning process.

We have chapel every week, and this month we are focusing on technology … how it affects us. One of my goals always is to talk about the good and the bad, and to give the students something to think about which can make them a bit uncomfortable. What I was hoping the gentleman from theoreticalbullshit could do would be to send us a clip where he talks (for 2 or 3 minutes) about his views on technology and innovation … maybe why he thinks it’s vital to the human condition. I also wanted to know what he thought about Christians’ approach to technology and innovation … do we stick our heads in the sand, metaphorically. Is religion a hindrance to technological progress, etc?

I’ve not heard back. I don’t want to ask my atheist friends to do it, because I try to keep boundaries, there. I reference their views regularly, but I try to respect the nature of the relationship that we have and not give them reason to think that I’m trying to put them on display. Yet, I’d still love an atheist to answer such questions. Keep in mind that I, in no way, want this to be a “bash the atheist” type thing. I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to find someone that we can argue against. I’m trying to find someone that could give us a critique that might actually call us to be better thinkers. Quite often, it’s best to hear what others think of you … I’d love our students to hear that.

So, is there any way that I could talk you into doing something like that? Or, do you have a friend that would be willing to. It really doesn’t need to be long at all. And, maybe it could turn into a cool relationship somehow. Any thoughts / interest?

Many thanks,

Noah Brink

I agreed to make him his video.  I did let Mr. Brink know that 99 times out of 100, when a Christian asks for material without the author there to defend it, it is so they can twist what is said without anybody holding them accountable.  I told Mr. Brink that I didn’t know enough about him to absolve him of the crimes of his predecessors, and suggested that he allow the students to make response videos to me and that I would answer them.  He agreed.

So, here’s my video on how I think technology and innovation look through the eyes of atheists and Christians.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • RuQu

    A good video in general. I hope the teacher uses it honestly as his email suggested.

    Is he planning to record his lecture and let you see how it is used?

    I would point out that some of your facts are a bit off. Life expectancy has largely increased due to child mortality, not late-life medical care. Throughout the Middle Ages and among hunter-gatherers, those who make it to 20 frequently live to 70.

    Studies of hunter-gatherers have also found that they have far more leisure time than us, with about 15-20 hours per day needed to cover their needs. Of course, we could absolutely cover the basic needs of everyone (food, simple shelter, water) for less using modern technology, but our lust for profits requires that we work more.

    None of that argues for the existence of a god, but we should always strive to be accurate.

  • ewok_wrangler

    Excellent tone; clear delivery. Thoughtful, measured, balanced content that is very nicely pitched to the level of the audience. I hope the recipients appreciate it. If they make response videos they’ll be good ones, because, you have set the bar high for them.

    May I offer some nit-picky comments on presentation? You will probably make more videos in future, and they could be visually better. Spend some time setting up a nicer background for yourself. That blank wall and off-center door look very random. It looks like you are recording in a corner of your bedroom (probably the case?). There must be nicer walls around your place, something with a less-bleak wall color, maybe a plant, a bookcase, a painting?

    And then — oh, how can I put this without sounding like a jerk, or your granny? — grooming. Your voice and expression and gestures project a decent, thoughtful, caring person — good! But your general appearance comes across as a slacker who just climbed out of bed. You’re on your way to being an influential figure with a national audience, dude! You need to look as good as you think and talk — and these videos last forEVER. Before you make another, perhaps you could ask the GF for advice on the hair, the choice of shirt, etc.

    • RuQu

      Some good points there.

      I’d also add, find a friend who is a photographer and get some help with your lighting. You look rather washed out and pallid in this video, and no one trusts zombies as educators. They know you are just trying to fatten up their brains for the slaughter.

      My grandfather worked largely out of his home, and the front living room was kept very formal and professional for meeting with clients. Perhaps you could find a space in your house, even if its just a corner of a room, that you can set up as a mini-studio. Proper lighting, the background exactly as you want it, enough room between you and the camera that you don’t have that typical leaning into the camera look that most webcams produce.

      It wouldn’t take a lot to really up the production values.

  • Robert Klauka

    Well done, JT! I believe your presentation was very gentle and realistic. It was to the kids level and you have certainly challenged the status quo.

  • Makoto

    Great video! One thing – I’d always suggest doing a watermark with the timestamp YOU expect to be there is in some corner. That makes it much more obvious if anyone is doing some dishonest editing.

  • neatospiderplant

    Good job!

  • Peter N

    I really don’t know how anyone could still be a Christian after watching this video.

  • Pingback: Live-stream of my video to ECS.

  • Will

    Hey JT!! I’m a student at ECS and was blessed to see your video this morning. Thank you so much for taking the time to create the video, exceptional thoughts and I would love to hear more if you are willing to talk. You are genuine and that is something to admire. (which indeed I do) I’d love to know if there is anyway to contact you! My email: