What do I recommend in way of reading? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
As someone who frequently debates atheists online, I meet a lot who think they know so much but really know so little. In all fairness, this can happen to Christians as well. When this kind of situation comes up, I usually issue my reading challenge.
This challenge is for people who go out and regularly debate subjects. It’s not for Joe Christian who is not an apologist and not into the debates. It’s for anyone who goes to any debate page on Facebook or anywhere else and regularly challenges people who are of a different persuasion.
The question I ask is simple. “When was the last time you read an academic book on this topic that disagreed with you?” I find it quite fascinating that hardly anyone if anyone has been able to answer this simple question. Most people stick to just what they read on the internet or watch on YouTube videos. There isn’t really any major research going on of any kind.
Just yesterday I had someone shoot the question back to me. I was able to quickly respond that I just recently finished reading Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. That was easy enough. I have some other atheist books on order at the local library and I’m waiting for them to come in.
When you’re on a forum or on Facebook it’s not that easy for anyone to give the entirety of their worldview on any subject. Many of us spend years learning and reading and it’s ridiculous to expect us to be able to sum it all up in a couple of paragraphs. I am fine with giving some tips on where I go with things and leading people in the right direction, but normally I will refer to other works that will back my case further.
If someone doesn’t mention any such book, then I think that they are not taking matters seriously. It’s easy to remain an atheist or a Christian as well if you just stay in your bubble and don’t let your own worldview be challenged. As a Christian, I enjoy the freedom of being able to read whatever I really want to. This also includes the holy books of other religions. If a Muslim tells me he hasn’t read the New Testament, I can assure him I have read the Koran.
Unfortunately, with the way our culture is going, yesterday for the first time I went a step further and just asked what the last book someone read was. A culture that doesn’t read and sticks to the internet is not going to be informed. It doesn’t matter how much access to knowledge we have. If we do not know how to sift through information and separate the wheat from the chaff then we’re often just looking for information that will confirm our own biases and stopping as soon as we have what it is that we want.
The reading challenge is a simple challenge I issue to people who debate seriously. It works with all worldviews and it is something we who debate need to hold ourselves accountable to as well. I have it that I want to know my opponent’s side better than he does.