Thursday, January 5, 2012

Giving Christianity a Skeptical but Fair Hearing

After my linking in a Facebook forum to yesterday's introductory blogpost, someone made the following pithy comment:

"Steve, you have not been investigating Christianity. You have not been writing in a manner that admits to investigation. You have written in a way that shows that you have ruled it out. You have been seeking agreement from others to rule it out as well. Calling a non-investigation an investigation is like calling ad hominem argument debate."

This is how I replied:

"I admit that I begin my investigation with the strong assumption that traditional, exoteric Christian teachings are absurd and nonsensical, just as most Christians "investigating" atheism [or other religions] would probably begin with similarly strong convictions against atheism [or other religions]. Having said that, I do want to understand the arguments for Christian teachings as thoroughly as I understand their counterarguments and to be as fair to both sides in my blogging as I can possibly be. That's the best I can do, and I will try my best to do my best."

I think my Facebook critic raises a good point. When I read and write about Christianity, it's always with the intent of debunking the faith. But does this guarantee that I can't give the best arguments for the faith a fair hearing? Josh McDowell, one of the most popular Christian apologists ever, supposedly came to the faith after setting out to debunk it. No doubt many others have taken a similar path to Christianity. So, who's to say that I can't give the faith a reasonably fair hearing despite what my motives may be starting out?


  1. I think one can certainly be receptive to new information they wouldn't think of entertaining if it rises up in a compelling manner. As you mentioned, many who have set forth in trying to debunk Christianity have become Christians themselves. And, on the other side of the coin, many who have tried to secure Christianity as the bedrock of their faith by investigating it more thoroughly have come to the conclusion that it is not as solid of a belief system as they first imagined.

    To just study the other side is a step towards rational objectivity in my opinion. It is normal to have views...our views are only a problem when they get in the way of recognizing new valid information due to our biases. Just my opinion. :)

  2. I couldn't agree more with your excellent points, Jessica. People can definitely change their minds about a religion or anything else by studying it closely, regardless of why they commenced the study in the first place. And the better they know all perspectives regarding the object of their study, the more informed and potentially wise their resulting stance on it is likely to be.

  3. I hope that you enjoy the journey.