Here in Australia, considerable attention was given to the recent Global Atheist Convention held in Melbourne. The event generated a lot of interest in the local media, particularly focusing not so much on the arguments made but on the (allegedly) unnecessary insults handed out by prominent platform speakers. One Australian, Christian senator was described by Richard Dawkins and Robyn Williams as having
the intelligence of an earthworm
a comment which was met with rapturous applause by the delegates.
It's interesting that atheist commentator I reference above considers this sufficient demonstration that
we were all open to rational debate
I leave it to the reader to decide whether such pejorative language is “rational debate”, because I have other fish to fry.
I think its important for Christians to understand what arguments and assumptions atheists are bringing to the table. We live in a world where atheism is, as the conference organisers right claim, on the rise. If we are to provide reasonable and coherent answers to the challenges that this brings to the Lordship of Jesus over all things then we must, at the very least, understand what the nature of the objection is.
So, as the Atheist Convention progressed, I started listening to the atheist. Actually, more accurately, I started reading them talk to each other. On Twitter. The hashtag used was #atheistcon, and it makes for fascinating reading. What comes across straight away is that these are intelligent, articulate people who have, in the main, begun to think at more than a surface level about these things. They are, it has to be said, hostile towards religious expression and many communicate in their tweets the same disdain that Dawkins and others communicated from the platform.
But none of that, I suspect, is news to many of you. So why write this post?
Well, because yesterday someone tweeted a link to a video on youtube entitled “10 questions that every intelligent Christian should answer“. Watching it, it comes across as a good example of the level of objection being raised in the popular arena against Christianity and therefore the sort of things Christians are going to hear at the water cooler, the coffee machine and down the pub. It certainly reflects the sorts of challenges that I'm hearing regularly.
So my intention is to work through those 10 questions (whether or not I might be considered an intelligent Christian) in an attempt to both provide answers to those genuinely seeking them and also to help you think through what responses we can make.
I'll hold back, for now, making any comments and observations about the video until I begin the answers. For now, have a watch and let me know what you think about the general approach here.
This Post Has 6 Comments
David: I’ve not had opportunity to watch the video (I’m presently on “hold” on the phone) but I like your willingness to work through the questions. Are you going to write up responses or create a video for each? I’m wondering whether a video could be more helpful given it all began on YouTube.
I was thinking of writing up responses. I think I can be clearer and more detailed that way.
Good point though – might be worth considering.
I have a video camera you can borrow anytime.
Great post. It does make one wonder about just how many educated (or non-educated) Christians would be able to answer these confronting and recurring questions.
Some of the questions are good ones that I don’t have an immediate answer to. Others are answerable, such as:
-Why didn’t any of Jesus’ miracles leave behind any evidence? What about the evidence of contemporary documents (whether the Gospels or others) that mention such deeds? The writer appears to be defining evidence as physical evidence, and the passing of two thousand years has removed that, as the miracles of Jesus recorded in the Bible are ones that wouldn’t leave much evidence two thousand years later – healing the sick, driving out demons, feeding multitudes, walking on water, raising people from the dead.
– Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Who said that they’re good? The Bible tells us that all humans have rejected & rebelled against God. In judgement, God has allowed all of creation to be corrupted & twisted, so we shouldn’t be surprised when bad things happen.
– Why does the Bible demand the deaths of so many innocent people? As with the previous answer, the writer is using his own definitions of “good” and “innocent”, but how does he know that his definitions are right? The possibility that God might have his own definitions of these terms doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind.
– The writer also reveals a level of historical snobbery. The writers of the Bible are dismissed as “primitives”. On the subject of slavery, the writer made a comment along the lines of “all intelligent people oppose slavery”. All intelligent people? What about the Burmese generals using forced labour? Or what about those in the underworld who engage in forced prostitution? They might be evil, but I doubt they’re stupid. It also ignores the fact that the evil of slavery has only been universally accepted by Westerners for the last 150 years. Repulsive though it may be to us, we have to face the fact that for most of history most intelligent people had no problem with slavery.
I doubt that these will satisfy the author, but he hasn’t convinced me to give up my faith.
David, I have an invitation for you on the Standfirm blog:
I replied to your blog on SF, if you’re interested…