Recently, I manned a table in front of our church building in downtown Phoenix during a large art festival. This festival happens every month on the First Friday and we usually do a corresponding outreach event. This time we did something rather different and invited an atheist acquaintance of mine to sit beside me at the table. We had our large signs (“BIBLE QUESTIONS?” and “QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD?”) as usual but we also had a new (smaller) sign in front of each of us which read: “Ask An Atheist” and “Ask a Christian”.
Amazingly, we had a consistent stream of inquiring people for nearly 3 hours. The environment is very secularized and “enlightened”, so this is rather significant. A formidable part of our conversations revolved around the nature of God’s activity in the universe over/against sheer materialistic naturalism.
My atheist friend and I discussed manifold things directly related to this chapter such as “what is science?” and “is God obvious?” and “which worldview better accounts for the data we see in front of us?” and “how far reaching is the arm of science?” These are just some of the issues we discussed; as you can imagine, the subject of intelligent design came up frequently. My atheist friend wanted to know (in his own words) if there really is a “bridge between science and theology”. This, of course, is the subtitle of a book I am reading by William Dembski titled – surprise! – Intelligent Design (one chapter is called “Naturalism and Its Cure” and much of the content herein played a role in many of our conversations).
I say all of that to say this: that the contents of this chapter will be in the back of my mind (and perhaps even in my debate notes) as I interact with him in front of an audience made up of skeptics, those whom are sometimes called “seekers” and even members of my own congregation. Many of the latter group have big questions about these issues and/or want to know how to better articulate a Christian worldview. They will be listening for a model of Christian clarity, wisdom, and yes, even charity. I pray that the Lord uses all of this not only to “cure naturalism” but, if the Holy Spirit should see fit, to even cure some souls.