David T. Lamb

Is the God of the Old Testament…?

Behaving Badly at Bucknell 2

Judging by the comments to my last blog, some people felt like I behaved badly at Bucknell.  (And I thought the title was a joke.)  But people love controversy so my previous blog set a record for daily hits.

To the atheists at Bucknell: I am surprised that you read my last blog.  Thanks for engaging and contributing to a record.  Thanks also for coming on Monday night and asking questions.  Thanks to those of you who commented to my blog.  (Unfortunately, I had to remove two of the harshest comments from an anonymous person–if comments don’t have a real name and are harsh, they disappear.  Notice I kept Sheldon’s.)  Most of my blogs get no comments.  The last one got 6.

Here are some of my responses to comments:

To Sheldon (“While you are praying for us, I will think critically for both of us.”).  I don’t know if we met personally on Monday, but I’m sorry if you felt like I wasn’t thinking critically.  If that were really the case, and I were you, I would have left the talk after a couple of minutes.  If you are a non-theist, I assume you don’t care whether or not I pray to a being that you believe doesn’t exist.  As a theist, I believe that praying is the most loving thing I can do for someone.

To Apathetic: I like the Harry Potter and evilness of Snape analogy.  I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion.  So did I.

To Intrigued: I also wish we had more time to discuss the Old Testament and problematic stories.  Much of the discussion focused on philosophy and religion generally.  Those are not my areas of expertise, and I never claimed that to be the case.  The Bible, the Old Testament, and problematic passages, those are my areas.  I would have loved to talk more about them.  But that wasn’t what the atheists wanted to discuss, which is surprising to me because Richard Dawkins talks about the OT a lot.

To Miffed: I’m sorry you felt like I gave no answers.  If you re-read my initial post, you’ll notice I put “answers” in quotes.  If I did it over, I wouldn’t call it questions and answers, but perhaps questions and more questions, or questions and responses.  If you were expecting me to give satisfactory answers to questions that atheists and theists have been debating for thousands of years, I think that’s unrealistic.  There were 150 people in that room, about 20 questions were posed, many people didn’t get to talk who wanted to.  I was trying to be brief in my comments, so as many as possible could ask or comment.  And yet I repeatedly called upon the row of non-theists, ignoring other people’s raised hands.  I even asked the non-theists questions, giving them more opportunities to talk.

If the non-theists were frustrated by my brief responses or questions, I can understand.  When I emailed Richard Dawkins with a reasonable question, he give me no response, not even an automatic email reply, despite the fact that I am an Oxford alum and have personal connections to his college, Christ Church.

My friend Jesse North, InterVarsity staff at Bucknell shared this quote with me, which I think is relevant.  Cornell West: “People cannot live on arguments. They might be influenced by them…but they live on love, care, respect, touch, and so forth.”

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6 comments on “Behaving Badly at Bucknell 2

  1. Good Without God
    February 19, 2012

    And the reason us non-theists argue with you is to show that one does not need god in order to live a fulfilling life of “love, care, respect, touch, and so forth.”

  2. This Time My Name is Totally Not Offensive
    February 19, 2012

    I was commenting simply because I found some of your answers insufficient. I also implied that you sold 10 more copies of your book to us, the skeptics. I’m deeply sorry that you found my comments offensive and deleted them.

    By the way, there is no personal reason that Dawkins didn’t answer your e-mails. People generally just empty their spam folder without looking at it.

    If you want to receive a response, you should really send him a handwritten letter. If it’s written in the same style as each of your arguments, then he is sure to respond; Dawkins is extremely partial to crayon.

  3. This Time My Name is Totally Not Offensive
    February 19, 2012

    I was commenting simply because I found some of your answers insufficient. I also implied that you sold 10 more copies of your book to us, the skeptics. I’m deeply sorry that you found my comments offensive and deleted them.

    By the way, there is no personal reason that Dawkins didn’t answer your e-mails. People generally just empty their spam folder without looking at it.

    If you want to receive a response, you should really send him a handwritten letter. If it’s written in the same style as each of your arguments, then he is sure to respond; Dawkins is extremely partial to crayon.

    By the way, this comment is here twice because I’m awaiting moderation on my other e-mail address.

  4. This Time My Name Is Totally Not Offensive and This Comment is Actually Kind of Nice
    February 19, 2012

    By the way, none of our snarkiness is directed AT you, persay. You really are an enjoyable speaker to listen to and a valuable addition to campus dialogue. I simply did not find your arguments sufficient, and so I was making fun of them. Obviously, I have the maturity of an 8 year old. Please don’t take me seriously.

  5. David Lamb
    February 19, 2012

    To GWOG (aka, Miffed) and THMNITNOATCIAKON: Great names. The last one made me laugh.

    I appreciate your comments. Personally, I don’t find my arguments completely satisfying either.

    Again, I’d prefer “Questions and Questions” over “Q&A.” I really did enjoy talking to you (assuming you are who I think you are from Monday). You both make good points, and I particularly appreciate the toned down rhetoric, which makes it easier for me to engage with you.

    I’m sure there are many non-theists out there doing wonderful things. Personally, I think there’s a lot of evil also, being performed both by theists and non-theists.

    I wasn’t shocked that Dawkins didn’t reply and I’m sure he received 100’s of emails daily (most of the emails I receive are from colleges since my son put my email down when he took the PSAT). I just hoped that mine would make it through because I was supervised by one of his colleagues at Christ Church, Oxford, so I had a personal connection.

  6. Kyle Reese
    February 26, 2012

    I have become particularly interested in the framing of questions, particularly with regard to validity, honesty, and ‘personal wrestling’ of questions. Specifically i noticed Dr. Zacharias response to questions tends to focus on the honesty of the questioner, where honest refers to someone who is struggling with a sick parent asking a question about the nature/existence of suffering or similar. This has me wondering if there should be a ‘cut-off’ that is dependent upon the forum for what questions earn responses and others simply earn encouragement. Do you find that such a cut-off should exist, and for what forum? Is there a forth category of questions that would be acceptable to answer? And, even further, in personal (1 to 1) conversations, where would such a line lie? I have been considering this, as I find myself jumping to formerly ‘flushed’ lines of thought that fail to answer the question asked, instead of considering the ability of the questioner to respond to the response.

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This entry was posted on February 18, 2012 by in God Behaving Badly, Old Testament, Trash talking and tagged .
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