how to approach a problem with mind wide shut

June 12, 2013

evolution marketing / darwin fish design

Alarmed by the growing number of atheists among the current generation of young adults, one organization of Christians decided to sit some down for an interview to learn why they became atheists, drew conclusions, summed them up, and respectfully posted them online. Unlike many other faith groups, they legitimately wanted to understand what atheists thought and why, and what prompted their de-conversions. Problem is that they didn’t want to understand if all those atheists they interviewed had a point when discussing the improbability of an omniscient deity in their lives, ruling the universe from afar, yet being involved in the fate of every living thing. They were running a focus group to see what it would take to put those atheists back in the pews in a classic example of listening but not hearing. In their worldview, the inability of a pastor to prove that their faith is based on facts rather than tradition is the failure of a pastor since the infallibility of the religion is assumed as an unquestionable given.

The tone of the summary is almost clinical, like a psychiatrist surveying his patients and dutifully describing their pathologies to be analyzed by others. And while listing the reasons why atheists leave churches or never enter one, the piece recited a mantra declaring that Christianity is hard to understand, difficult to live up to, and teaches us to engage with the real world. As if a belief that an omniscient, omnipotent being incarnated as his own son to forgive humans for what he declared to be sins through self-sacrifice is as scientifically well proven as the structure of DNA. This is why this so-called "interfatih dialogue" is a bad idea for atheists. They’re not participants with a voice who get to express their views in a debate. They’re either patients to be studied for the future, or potential new believers yet to be swayed as far as the faithful are concerned. Yes, they might act like the nicest people in the world, but they’re not listening to you. They’re looking at you like a biologist looks at a dolphin and wondering how to teach you to do a trick…

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  • Jypson

    Nice piece Greg. There are a few Faithful that genuinely want to know why you don’t believe the same as them, but from my experience, the majority have been just as you described.

  • Harold

    Biologists don’t teach dolphins tricks, you’re confusing seaworld employees with real scientists.