Atheists and Believers – Join Us at the Breakfast Table

From About Pascal:

Why have this conversation?  Why have it in public?  Why adopt pseudonyms?  We don’t think that we are alone.  Many in our generation need a safe place to come and reason together.  My orientation to the skeptic, agnostic, and even atheist has changed.  It has changed like a compass needle with the orientation of my heart.  As I follow Christ I realize . . . he loved me, I will love them.

From About Russell:

Now, let us let down our defenses. Let us grow past the “us versus them” classifications that tear this world apart, and seek instead to learn about one another. Only then can knowledge lead to understanding, and understanding lead us to love those who disagree with us.

In an effort to fulfill these common goals, I’d like to invite our readers to join the conversation as we push against the barriers formed by our differences. My friend, Pascal, experienced a change of heart toward people like me after hours spent in conversations and thousands of written words. Through that investment of time and reasoned discourse we found a way to respect, understand, and love one another despite our fundamentally different worldviews. It is our desire to help atheists and believers alike realize each other’s value. Pascal and I recognize the importance of dispelling false assumptions about one another’s beliefs. This is an important part of our breakfast meetings, and we invite you to join us at the table.

Atheists – What are some things you wish believers knew about your position? What misconceptions or false assumptions would you correct?

Believers – same question for you. What would you like atheists to better understand about your beliefs or the reasons for them?

What questions do you have for each other? What questions do you wish others would ask of you? We look forward to your responses and to addressing them in future posts.

Gentleness and respect,
–Russell

8 comments

  1. I would like to see both sides of the atheist/christian divide leave science alone. Science is a tool that does not automatically indicate atheism, nor is against God. It is the manipulation of science that is the key – and I would contend that if you are to do this, at least be aware of it. Many atheists I know are not aware of this – when I told them the Catholics are huge supporters of science, the atheist’s constructed a narrative to say the church had ‘changed its mind to keep up’. There is no a priori fact that makes science anti-religion. I wish more Christians and Atheists thought about this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Rafols. You’ll find no disagreement from the authors here. Our guests, of course, are welcome to disagree. Russell and I are trained in different branches of STEM. Like most educated Americans, our education was quite narrow and is now thankfully continuous. The intimidating excitement of our age is that virtually all ignorance is vincible for the curious. So both Russell and I continue to read and learn. I now have a favorite physicist – – Sean Carroll. What kind of nerd has a favorite physicist? Silly question. What kind of nerd doesn’t?

      Carroll is an atheist. Fair enough. Russell is an atheist. Carroll is also a brilliant teacher and I am at least a curious student. I won’t leave science alone and I’ll explain my thesis briefly: truth is truth. I don’t think it is faith or science. If God made the universe, then we can learn about the universe and its laws with confidence and wonder. If God authored order, then mathematics is indeed beautiful – – even if my mind stretches only as far as arithmetic.

      From my reading of your blog we have both left certain aspects of our childhood faith. Only you can correct me if I misrepresent your view – – and I beg you to do so. The blessing that I did have in childhood was a father who was an engineer and a mother who was a writer. Two very different looks at the scriptures and physical reality. I was privileged to have parents who wanted and loved me. So there never has been a dichotomy for me. My parents may have represented right and left brain dominance, but the corpus callosum was intact – – there was communication between an appreciation for faith and science.

      No my new interlocutor – – we will not leave science alone. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 both say that much can be learned of God through the witness of nature. Again – – welcome. I’m enjoying your blog and I’m hopeful that you’ll join me in the subtle and patient outreach to those who disagree.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such eloquence in your response, it’s a pleasure to read. I would be interested to hear about how you think your training in the STEM field has influenced your belief (or lack of). I come from a Philosophy/Arts background and I know that that has had a massive impact on my beliefs. I would also like to hear more about your truth is truth thesis. Could make great topics for posts?

        By way of my background, I have a mother and father who are christian, but are not intellectually inclined. They tried to instill a love of God, but science was something they did not know about. They are loving parents, but they know I ask questions that they cannot answer.

        However, I do enjoy science. I studied physics for a time, and still like to read about astrophysics and such. Coming from a Christian background, science allows you to understand the natural world which is God’s creation. I can appreciate that. I don’t appreciate people miss-using science however.

        I can also see how my injunction to ‘leave science alone’ can be unclear – it is poorly worded. Science is fine and does good work. But it is important to be aware of the epistemological framework that science fits into (this is where my philosophy influence is most active in my belief). Science is not the be all and end all of human knowledge – scientific claims cannot engage directly with a transcendental God.

        Perhaps what I originally meant was “be aware of science’s limits”. That better catches my sentiment. I’m glad you are enjoying my blog – a mutual feeling.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Welcome Rafols!

          There is so much more I want to say in response to your incisive comment but I really must keep this short. I’m at my in-laws until Monday and I’m making a strong effort to be technology-free and accessible all weekend. If I read anything it will be their decorative books in their floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. I’m on “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” and “The American Historical Documents.” I may read your comments but I likely won’t respond adequately until Monday.

          One thing I will say now is that we agree. It’s been a topic that Pascal and I have spent many hours sorting out and there is much work yet ahead of us. I’ve studied the philosophy of science and its limitations and seen many scientists blow past those barriers to the detriment of its stock in the minds of the common man. On the other side are those who would say science can’t ever address issue X, to which I have sometimes urge caution. I’ll leave this for a later discussion.

          In the footer (or sidebar if your device has a wider screen) you’ll find our recent book/resource list. In mine is a link to a Great Courses lecture series called, “The Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It.” If you’re interested, I highly recommend it for both you and Pascal. I’ll be happy to discuss it and your point in a future post.

          Thank you so much for your comment. I hear them talking about me in the other room. Time to go be with family. Have a great Thanksgiving, my new friend. 🙂

          Like

  2. First off, I want to say…wow! It is a real joy for me to have come here and witness something I have been longing for…intelligent, loving, non-judgmental conversation between people of starkly different viewpoints. I only wish I have found you sooner as there is so much to read here and I doubt I will have time to read it all and catch up.

    I am a believer. My beliefs have slowly changed…hopefully evolved and is evolving over the years. I think what I would wish Atheists to understand is that not all who call themselves Christians believe in the same things. I do not believe for instance that the bible is something that is literally true but that the bible is a guide to teach deeper truths. If you read parables and myths you will notice that there are deeper truths to be gleaned from the stories. When I first heard of this perspective of the bible, it challenged my faith and I floundered. Eventually, I found this to help my faith to grow even stronger. It gave me the freedom to trust God’s love even more and to ask real intelligent questions and not just believe something that seemed inconsistent with God’s love because somebody decided that is what the bible teaches. I also believe (and many Christians feel the same) that the ‘Kingdom of God’ is bigger than Christianity. God invests His time and love to everyone not just a selected group of people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are welcome here. I agree, following Christ can be no more monolithic than can the absence of belief. I do have non-negotiables, but never non-discussables. We both look forward to learning from you.

      Like

  3. Hi again you two, I wanted to let you know I nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog Award” 🙂
    Please don’t feel under any pressured to accept the award, it is simply a way for us to share great blogs with others.
    Here’s the post to the link:http://wp.me/p3H3dQ-zi
    I am thrilled to be sharing a link to your blog. I feel so many others need to read what you both have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

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