Re: [asa] Responding to Atheists, Agnostics & Apatheists

From: <>
Date: Tue Oct 28 2008 - 17:39:20 EDT

Welcome from the world of "lurkage" --many of us watch and learn from the
recesses most of the time, and occasionally venture out. I'll respond below to
some of your points.

--Merv (ASA member)

Quoting Schwarzwald <>:

> * How would you approach an atheist, agnostic, or apatheist about
> christianity? Would the approach differ from how you would approach someone
> of another faith, or a lapsed member of your own faith?

I liked C.S. Lewis' reference to this (I wish I could remember which of his
letters) in which he compared the difference between someone who had never heard
the good news and someone else who has heard it many times (or has fallen away)
to the difference between a young virgin and an older divorced woman. The
former will readily dive into a relationship or try something for the pure
adventure of it, and the latter, having been burned, will demand a slow and
earned building of trust before they make themselves vulnerable again. I think
our "info/cyber saturated" society makes most non-Christians to be more like the
latter sort. It would be rare to encounter someone who hasn't heard all the
"proper answers" already and probably dismissed them as quaint aphorisms. So my
default approach is to try to get to know a person, actually listen to and
consider their take on life, and hopefully earn my way into a conversation or
context where something I have to share may help them. I cringe when
circumstances demand that I "announce myself" as a Christian up front, because
then I start out being watched to see how I will stumble. I would rather earn
somebodies trust and respect, and then have them later discover "Oh --and he's a
Christian". (I should probably take the fish off the back of my car --whenever
I pull a boneheaded, yet unintended traffic maneuver, I cringe to think of the
negative witness that goes with a Christian bumper sticker.) Anyway --this is
getting rather long, and I have no idea whether you number yourself among the
AAAs you describe. But either way, here is my candid response. I also try to
respect such people (who often are very good and decent people, making this easy
to do --and I acknowledge that Christians can learn a lot from them.)

> * Do you see science, or an understanding of science, as having a role to
> play in such a conversation?

Only if the person speaking sees it that way. I wouldn't start with science,
though, unless that is where that person is.

> * What common misconceptions or misunderstandings do you think exist among
> AAAs about Christianity?

I think many of them only see the Ken Hams or Kent Hovinds of the world and
assume that is the common Christian face. (If it statistically is, then I
cringe with embarrassment.)

> * Have you seen any effective targetting of AAAs by any particular person,
> ministry, or even faith?
> Mind you, I'm talking less about emotionally/politically charged AAAs - more
> about passive ones who, for whatever variety of reasons, just hold the views
> they do. I have my own views on these things, but I'm hoping others will
> chime in with their thoughts before I add my own.

Thinking of such people makes me thing of the Apostle Paul. He would probably
have been labeled that way one time until God got a hold of him. There is hope
for anybody, I think. But especially the militant ones who, after all, care
enough that they are at least angry about something.

Thanks for your thoughtful questions.


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Received on Tue Oct 28 17:40:02 2008

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