Can an atheist be close friends with a Christian—if that Christian thinks the atheist is going to hell?
What do Bruce Wayne and science have in common, other than being awesome?
Find out in this week’s buzz.
New Podcast with “Faitheist” Chris Stedman
The Humanist Hour, the American Humanist Association’s monthly podcast, interviewed Chris Stedman last week.
An atheist author and activist, he runs a fantastic blog you should frequent: Faitheist. Years ago, some militant atheists criticized his civil and pragmatic approach to interfaith dialogue by calling him a “faitheist.” Stedman appropriated the moniker. He’s currently the Yale Humanist Community’s Executive Director & Coordinator of Humanist Life.
Am I biased toward Chris because of his Yale connection? You better believe it. I’m even willing to forgive him for his past employment at Harvard.
For real, though, Stedman’s interview blew me away. A former fundamentalist Christian, his variety of atheism is remarkably humble and gracious. I love his take on the importance of storytelling: “Stories invite people to empathize with experiences different from their own.”
Stedman’s own narrative is fascinating. His Christian and atheist experiences have yielded a beautiful strategy for interfaith dialogue:
We believe that if you ground an interfaith dialogue in service work, you give people the opportunity to see one another as working toward the same goal, and being on the same side, and you ground it in a shared value.
I love how he advocates partnering service work with debate, since that humanizes the other person. It’s crucial to focus on the positives first, and then engage the differences.
In the podcast, he mentions a fascinating blog post he wrote, “My friend thinks I’m probably going to Hell.” He talks about how he was able to remain close friends with a Christian, after she was asked for her thoughts on his eternal destiny:
Over the next few years, we revisited the conversation. We decided to trust one another and to treat one another with respect. And as time went by, we got better at talking about it. We developed a kind of understanding, and learned to accept the discomfort of disagreement. This ongoing discussion challenged us to be honest, listen, and learn from one another.
You should really listen to the whole podcast. Stedman shows that interfaith friendship and challenging dialogue aren’t mutually exclusive.
Top Ten Anti-Religion TV Moments
Well, after talking about ideal interfaith interactions, it’s time for some less stellar examples. GenerationXeroFilms released a new YouTube video, looking at ten anti-religion moments on television.
Not surprisingly, many of the scenes—and the narrator himself—use caricatures of religion. Some of the shows featured are Good Times, The Simpsons, The West Wing, True Detective, and, of course, South Park.
The Colossian Forum Conference and Call for Papers
The Colossian Forum is a Christian organization that deals with divisive Christian issues in productive and thoughtful ways. They focus on faith, science, and culture.
Last week, they released information about a conference they’re holding in March: Re-imagining the Intersection of Evolution and the Fall. It looks like it’ll be a great event, since they’re asking great questions:
If humanity emerged from non-human primates—as genetic, biological, and archaeological evidence seems to suggest—then what are the implications for Christian theology’s traditional account of origins, including both the origin of humanity and the origin of sin?
You can find more information on their website, including speakers and their call for academic papers.
What are Science’s Limits?
Marcelo Gleiser, a Dartmouth philosopher and physicist, just released a new book, “The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning.” He wrote a brief article about it for The Washington Post last week:
Science is an incredibly successful narrative that we patch together the best way we can. But it should not be sold as perfect or all-powerful.
This is not a defeatist view of science. Quite the contrary, it’s liberating. Science is the only way to make quantitative sense of the physical world.
As Alfred told Bruce, “Know your limits, Master Wayne.”