Atheist Jon Curry’s words will be in blue.
Reports and rumors and bald assertions that I supposedly can’t get along with any atheist or that none would possibly put up with my alleged arrogance and disingenuous polemics (I was accused of those two things just two days ago), are (like Mark Twain’s death) greatly exaggerated. Here are some facts (for those interested in such trivialities).
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It’s gonna be a great night. I was invited by my friend Jon Curry, who is a former evangelical atheist. This is the same group where I did a Q & A all by myself, with 16 atheists / agnostics, in August or September 2010.
I consider it to have been the most enjoyable evening of apologetics that I ever experienced in 34 years. Jon later wrote about it:
A lot of atheists regard Christian belief as extremely easy to debunk and I thought it would be fun to bring in someone that has thought through common objections and is able to turn it back on atheists. Make them exercise their brains a bit. We had a great time with Dave.
In October of that same year, I invited Jon to come to my house to try to prove that Jesus didn’t exist. About 7 or 8 of us Catholics were present. It was another very fun and congenial evening spent. He kindly wrote about that:
Dave [is] one of those people that is able to sit down and disagree with me strongly, but do it in a way that makes for productive and friendly dialogue. Not all Christians can do this, nor can all skeptics.
In my experience Catholics are largely among the most kindly and empathetic of Christians.
I return those warm compliments. Jon is a very friendly and considerate guy: a prime example that not all atheists are mean and ornery and arrogant (some are that, but many if not most, are not). Maybe one day he’ll be back in the fold. Pray for him!
In the meantime, we Christians can talk as friends or friendly acquaintances with atheists and at least find what common ground we may have (the ecumenical aspect); and I will defend theism, Christianity, and Catholicism in my usual low-key, relatively “non-confrontational” fashion, as opportunity arises. There is no shortage of questions asked when a lone Christian is present with many atheists, so those opportunities are abundant. I need not initiate anything.
But (speaking particularly as someone who loves dialogue and debate), I think it’s fun to get with folks, occasionally, who have very different belief-systems: as long as it is friendly (not interested in shouting matches and mudfests).
This group is that, so it’s pleasurable hangin’ out. I look forward to the next time.
* * *[report afterwards]
I had a great time. We talked for four-and-a-half hours. I was just getting over a severe cold. I feel exhausted today after putting out so much mental energy last night!
Also had a great time Dave, and I’m sure Anamika Michigan, Glenn Gayer, Steve Sonntag, Bruce Townley and Bargava had fun as well. Glad you were able to join. How late did you stay? Normally I stay late and can’t pull myself away, but knew I had to get moving last night.
Well, we went right up to closing time at 11; not long after you left. I was trying to listen to the basketball game all the way home: some sports commentator was talking about it, but not doing play-by-play, which was weird. I actually saw the very end at a party store near my house.
Then I got to hear my son Michael vent at home. He despises LeBron James!
[Glenn Gayer] Lots of fun. Thanks for putting up with us Dave. Always interesting to hear your perspective.
Likewise, Glenn! We could have easily talked an hour on any one of the 17 or so specific topics brought up . . .