Sunday, January 07, 2007
Conversation with an Atheist
Last night I had the privilege of being interviewed on a community radio program in the Nashville area called "Brightly Speaking". "Bright", just FYI, is a new euphemism that some atheists are trying to appropriate for themselves, and "Brightly Speaking" is a radio talk-show done by an atheist friend, Wendell, that I met this past year through the Off the Map message boards (where he goes by the handle isaone).

We had a great conversation and a lot of fun. The hour was over far too quickly. We started out talking about the emerging church, and I got to share with Wendell's listeners how it differs from the kind of Christianity he is mostly familiar with (especially down there in the Bible Belt). He even commented that if more churches were like ours he would have a lot more respect for Christianity - which I take as a huge compliment and is part of the reason that we do what we do.

The second segment of the show was about various points of disagreement between myself and atheists. For instance, we started out talking about the soul, but I made it clear that I don't believe in the popular (yet unorthodox) Christian conception of the soul as some separate spiritual entity that inhabits our body (I think the word soul is a term that, biblically speaking, instead simply refers to the totality of our whole being - mind, body and spirit - not as some separate thing from these other components.) That led us into a discussion about the bodily resurrection (the orthodox Christian view of the afterlife). I think I did an okay job of representing this view, though I was sadly unprepared for Wendell's question about why I believe in the resurrection. I told I believe it because the Bible teaches it, which is true, but that's kind of an inadequate answer IMO. In retrospect (hind sight is 20/20 right?) I wish I would have told him that I believe in the resurrection because I believe that God is just, and if there is no resurrection then there truly is no justice for those millions who live lives of unrelenting oppression, poverty, and suffering, and never receive any recompense in this lifetime. If "life sucks and then you die", end of story, then God is not just. I wish I would have said that I believe in resurrection because I believe in justice. Ah well... :)

I also didn't do as well as I would have liked in the final segment. We got into why some people (like Brights), don't believe in the supernatural, while others (Supers like me) do. I wound up arguing that things like miracles and healings do exist, and that this is evidence for the supernatural - which I do believe to be true. However, again in retrospect, I wish I would have taken a different approach. I should have made the point that even if there were no supernatural events in our world, that there would still be ample reason to believe in God simply by looking at the complexity and beauty of our natural world. It's like Francis Bacon said:

"God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because His ordinary works convince it."

Of course, not all are convinced. But for me at least, the greatest proof for the existence of God is simply this natural world we live in. I wish I would have said that instead of getting into a fruitless argument about the reality of miracles (how could I offer any corroborative proof on a radio program?) Again, ah well...

But all in all, it was a worthwhile experience. Wendell claims that he only has a very small audience (the radio station only has a broadcasting radius of about 10 miles), so I don't know how many people heard the program. However, he has a podcast of the show up on his website, so you can download it and hear it yourself if you're interested. Just click here.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 10:16 PM | Permalink |


At 1/08/2007 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Pat Loughery

Great notes, Mike. I'm going to try to make time to listen to the interview. I'm not sure I could have been nearly as lucid in my conversation as you were! :)


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