Day: February 18, 2012

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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