Faith and Reason: Part 1
Last Sunday, I went to church.
DigitalChicken over at Internet Infidels had posted a message on that board announcing that he had been asked to appear as a member of an atheist panel for a class that's held at a church in the Dallas area. Upon reading that notice, I thought it might be fun to show up, if nothing else than to give some support to the invited atheists and to see what kinds of questions would be asked of them.
I showed up a little early and took more than a few minutes to find where the class was being held- the church complex is, as is typical of North Texas, very large. I was eventually directed to a room near the back of the complex, where I helped myself to doughnuts and orange juice. I recognized DC by his description, and walked over to introduce myself to him, and then took a seat near the front. The atheists, current and former members of the North Texas Church of Freethought, were warmly welcomed by all attending the class, including its leader, Kevin Harris. Kevin interviewed them for about an hour, asking them about their views on atheism in general, the perception of atheists in society, and the separation of church and state. All three had the ability to speak at length, and were treated very politely by Kevin.
After the first hour, Kevin opened the floor up to any of the class members who wanted to ask questions of the guests. Most were relatively predictable, including questions about intelligent design, the emotional appeal of religion, and the atheistic context of morality. That last issue was raised specifically by a young, athletic guy who asked, "If there are no eternal consequences, what's to stop me from raping or molesting children?" This was answered by DC, who asked in reply, "Let's say there aren't any consequences. Would you go out and rape somebody?" The questioner squirmed visibly for a few minutes, and tried to avoid answering the question, but eventually admitted that no, he would not. To which DC replied, "Then you don't need eternal consequences to be moral, do you?"
I spent some time afterwards talking with DC and the other atheists, after which Kevin walked up and introduced himself to me. He told me that the class is called, "Faith and Reason," and its purpose is to expose Christians at that church to more than just theology, and they plan on covering topics such as evolution, atheism, and science. They're also planning on screening Brian Flemming's "The God Who Wasn't There" in a few weeks. Kevin told me that I am more than welcome to come back, and I think I will. I'm extremely encouraged that there's a group of Christians that are open to hearing things that most others wouldn't dare to consider, and I'd like to observe the class and comment on it here. I'm looking forward to it!