A pastor friend of mine hosts an apologetics radio show here in Phoenix. I listen weekly. One week, I heard a local atheist call in to disagree with my friend’s claim that materialists must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to do science. Unfortunately, the discussion was not as productive as I hoped. I felt that the atheist could have been given more time in order to develop his point, for example. I also thought the back-and-forth dialogue could have been more nuanced than it was. But I understand the nature of radio, so this is not meant as a criticism.
Wanting to do some personal follow-up, I found the atheist caller on Facebook and contacted him. A week later, we were having a friendly discussion on the phone, followed by a personal meeting at a coffee shop near Arizona State University. In the beginning, we just took some time to get to know each other personally. I asked him if he would be interested in telling me what he had originally wanted to say on the radio show. He was more than happy to oblige. I listened quietly - for the most part. There were a few glaring misrepresentations that I did not want to let pass. When he was done, I asked a few follow-up questions. The conversation quickly turned to … Intelligent Design.
I have read in this area but do not consider myself an expert. Furthermore, I am tentatively a young earth creationist (in the vein of Paul Nelson) and therefore have not totally figured out how to reconcile my theological commitments with the ID movement. Yet I know that these are bright men and women and that they have done some of the most insightful work in the whole origin debate. Therefore, I felt that I must draw on what I knew about this from their work, all the while attempting to remain consistent. Many of the things I relayed to my friend I had received from the pen of William Dembski. In fact, I gave my new atheist friend a copy of William Dembski’s book called The Design Revolution in which he answers major objections to ID.
Afterwards, my friend asked me to watch a documentary on the Dover trial (which I did) and then we could talk again (which we have). Our follow-up discussions have primarily been on Facebook. And there yet again I drew heavily from the resources provided by The Discovery Institute, especially Stephen C. Meyer and William Dembski.
I am aware that many people in my congregation pay attention to my interactions with unbelievers on Facebook. How? They either “like” certain comments or they mention it to me when I see them. To me, this is a certain kind of modeling - or discipling even. This is why I tell this story (which just happened within the last two weeks) because I believe I will not only use some of this information in the chapter in the future but I am actually using it right now. For this, I am thankful.