This is a guest post by Christian blogger, Bill Ball. I hope you’ll take the time to visit his excellent blog and give it a read. Thanks goes out to my friend Bill for taking the time to write this article.
A while back, my friend Mike asked if I would be willing to do a guest post on his blog dealing with the topic “Why should Christians engage or not engage atheists? or something along those lines. In other words, why is it important that the different world views continue to talk and engage one another?”
Mike said he would do a similar post for my blog. I agreed and we laid some ground rules, especially that we would simply publish each other’s posts and avoid attack or criticism.
A bit of background. Our first contact was when my wife Uni posted a Christmas greeting on my blog. I was surprised to receive a greeting from Canadian Atheist in the comments. This was the beginning of a long conversation, usually congenial, but occasionally getting a bit heated. We exchanged personal information and I feel that I can call Mike my friend even though we’ve not met in person.
Now to the topic at hand. I must confess that it is difficult for me not to make this personal. I have many personal reasons, a few being my natural curiosity and talkativeness. But why should Christians, in general, desire to converse with those with whom they disagree?
Well, first of all, because of what we believe about truth. Contrary to much modern thinking, we agree with Atheists that there is such a thing as objective truth and that that truth can be known. We simply disagree on which particular matters are true. I believe that I as a Christian have much to learn from Atheist thinkers, and that they have much to learn from Christians. There seems to be much ignorance on both sides and dialog goes a long way to clear it up.
There are literally billions of people who profess or have professed to be Christians and their behaviors and beliefs span a broad range. It is easy to attack or criticize Christianity itself based on some or many of these. But the truth of a worldview is not dependent on the behavior or even beliefs of those who profess to be its adherents.
Hence the necessity for the Christian (as well as for the Atheist) to make clear what our worldview is. Please forgive me for oversimplifying, but here it is in brief.
· God, who exists eternally in three persons, created “the heavens and the earth” — i.e. everything.
· God created humankind in His image, but our first ancestors rebelled against God, and the human race today is fallen.
· God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, became human to take on himself the penalty for this rebellion. Those who trust him have eternal salvation.
· God has revealed sufficient truth about himself in the Bible so that he may be known.
· There is much more to it and there are of course many variations on this view, probably as many as there are Christians, but as I stated, this in brief is our worldview. In a sense, Christianity is about communication; we have a message and this is it. I make no apologies for my worldview.
As I see Atheism presented today, I see at least three areas of disagreement between us, which usually ar areas of contention. I see a need for conversation — dialog — on these areas and feel that I have a responsibility for clarifying them.
First, of course is the big one: God. The Atheist, of course denies His existence. To the believer, the fact of our own existence and the existence of all things is evidence of a Designer — of someone who brought this entire amazing universe into being. Science doesn’t disprove God; it simply attempts to explain how God’s creation functions, even how God did the creating in the first place.
Then, there is the Bible and the picture it gives of God and reality. What is ironic to me is the way it is criticized without much, if any attempt at understanding: its 1,500 years flow of history, the use of figures of speech, the tensions between the Old and New Testaments. I know of no other document that is criticized in such a manner. We Christians attempt to base our lives on this Book and any efforts at dialog will include our rationale for our acceptance of this Book.
And of course, there is the behavior of those who profess Christ. While I make no apology for my faith in God and the Bible, I find myself often in agreement with my Atheist friends’ criticisms. Too often those who claim to follow Christ live lives in contradiction to the ethics Jesus taught. This is sad and frustrating. We who follow Christ often behave as does the rest of the human race, and at times worse. I am at times more critical than my Atheist friends, with the one major difference being that I criticize from within.
As a follower of Christ and as a believer in God and the Bible, I do not profess to have it all put together. I struggle with biblical and ethical tensions in a way that a non-believer doesn’t.
I do attempt and desire to understand the thinking of the Atheists, as well as that of those who hold other religious persuasions. I ask that they do the same for me.