How should non-believers respond to believers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
This chapter is rather refreshing in how it comes about as there are times in this book that Humphrys goes after the new atheists. In this, I want to highlight three points in this chapter that stands out to me. All of this comes after his interviews with the Archbishop, the rabbi, and the Muslim. (As far as we know, they sadly did not walk into a bar.)
The first is that Humphrys says like any complex work of history or philosophy, the Bible has to be interpreted for the ignorant, as well as for the informed. 100% correct. What new atheists do is think often that the Bible should just be read literalistically and that it should be immediately understandable to them. This is some of our consumeristic thinking at work. It’s also simply lazy.
Too many atheists and Christians both won’t bother reading something to help them understand the Bible. Even blog posts like this one I get pushback from atheists on as I will link something I have written on in reply and lo and behold, they won’t respond to anything in it. If you have a position that you do not want to read anything on the topic you claim to care about, whether to attack it or to build it up, you really don’t care about that topic.
He also says that too many times, atheists often because they don’t believe think themselves superior intellectually and morally. He does say he understands that as he went through the same, but it just isn’t so. This is a behavior that I see often in atheists I encounter and it really has the effect of convincing me they don’t care about truth as much as they think. They are brilliant by reason of being atheists and Christians are stupid by reason of being believers. I call it atheistic presuppositionalism.
It doesn’t hurt me at all, but it does great harm to an atheist wanting to spread their message. If you mock Christians for not studying and just believing everything and then do the same for anything you read, you’re no better. I still remember Victor Stenger on Unbelievable? saying that for his ideas on the Bible, he relies on Bart Ehrman. Yes. God forbid you read someone that disagrees with you at all. Even today I had someone give the quote to me that Magellan said of “I have seen the shadow of the earth upon the moon, and I have more confidence in the shadow than I have in the church.” Unfortunately, he never said this, but confirmation bias is just as real for an atheist as it can be for a Christian.
Finally, Humphrys writes about how the faith of believers has been a comfort to them and a benefit through struggles. He says that Dawkins and others can find that laughable and sneer, but they should be ashamed of themselves. He ends with saying believers should be treated with respect.
I agree entirely, and that sounds like a good note to end this on.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)