Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Three questions to ask an atheist

A friend of mine is about to debate an atheist in a public forum tomorrow on the topic "Which makes more sense: Atheism or Christianity?". The planned format of the event provides each speaker a chance to ask three questions of the other (thirty seconds to frame the question and then three minutes to answer it). Whichever side you might identify with, what question(s) would you ask?

Here is a suggestion to kick off the discussion (remember, I'm more interested in hearing questions than answers at the moment): "I find in the best kind of atheism a protest against superstitious explanations and self-interested religion. What do you find most attractive about Christianity?"

For those in Sydney, the details of the event are as follows.

Participants: Alan Conradi (a member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia)* and Michael Paget (Anglican Chaplain to UTS and Executive Pastor at St Barnabas' Anglican Church Broadway)
Topic: "Which makes more sense: Atheism or Christianity?"
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2008
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Union Theatre Gallery Lounge, University of Technology, Sydney
Cost: I assume it is free, but I could be wrong.
*Based on the definition of atheism found at this website - "Atheism is the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural." - I hereby call myself an atheist (depending what one means by "factually reliable", a slippery tautology).


Anthony Douglas said...

I like the question "Why do you care what I think?"

We're hoping to convert atheists, and have a self-consistent reason to do so; I'm always interested in whether an atheist can provide a similar one.

It's hard, because they probably don't want to call you nasty things to your face. And stereotypes so often break down when applied to an individual.

Anonymous said...

My main objection to atheism is practical.It seems to me that people simply don't live as if there is no God even if they don't believe in God. That is to say, people live life as if their life were more than simply material As if their love were more than something chemically derived. What then does something like love mean in an atheistic paradigm and how do YOU live that out?

Glen said...

Mike Reeves, Theological Advisor to UCCF, is fond of asking this question: "Which god don't you believe in?" The follow up is that whatever god the atheist describes you say 'I don't believe in that god either - I believe in the God of the cross...'

Drew said...

"What do you see as the main difference between us?"

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. sounds like a good idea, this three-questions thing. I think I'd ask: "What do you make of Jesus?"

Unknown said...

For natural beauty I praise God: what is the atheist's response to the beauty of nature? Do you enjoy it? Does that enjoyment have any meaning?

Bruce Yabsley said...

Without meaning any offence to your colleague: what exactly is an "Executive Pastor"?

byron smith said...

Great questions everyone. Bruce, not sure whether yours is a question for Mike to ask the atheist or vice versa... ;-)
Seriously, though, I think the idea behind having an executive pastor is to allow larger staff teams to distinguish between the staff team leader and the senior minister. The former is an executive pastor (rather than someone who ministers to CEOs, aka "eye-of-the-needle ministries"). This means that the senior minister is freed up from running a staff team in order to focus on other things (e.g. vision, teaching, whatever else might be a strength).

Lisa Foreman said...

So what were the final 3 questions he asked? And what did the atheist ask? Would be interesting to know what they thought were the most important issues!

byron smith said...

Hi Lisa, great to hear from you!

I remember hearing what the questions were, but can't remember them now. You could ask Mike, he would probably remember.