Hey look! The executive editor of the New York Times, the most liberal “newspaper” in the country is comparing conservative Christian beliefs to belief in space aliens!
If a candidate for president said he believed that space aliens dwell among us, would that affect your willingness to vote for him? Personally, I might not disqualify him out of hand; one out of three Americans believe we have had Visitors and, hey, who knows? But I would certainly want to ask a few questions. Like, where does he get his information? Does he talk to the aliens? Do they have an economic plan?
Yet when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively.
[…]Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.
Got that? If you’re a conservative Christian, then Bill Keller thinks that your view should raise concerns about whether you are able to separate fact and fiction – like the people who believe in space aliens.
Well – I am going to help Bill Keller with this problem. In fact, I’ll address the rest of this post to him.
Bill Keller – I know that in New York, you might never have to face questioning by anyone who disagrees with you. I understand that. But you really need to be more careful about hearing both sides of debates before you start talking about the issues in public. I can help you, Bill. I can point you to the debates where you will hear both sides. Many people get their impressions of Christianity from movies like “Jesus Camp”, “Footloose” and “Inherit the Wind”, and we don’t want you to be one of those people.
Below are some actual academic debates featuring an actual Christian scholar debating on topics like whether God exists, whether Jesus rose from the dead, and whether atheism is an adequate foundation for morality. You can watch those to find out what Christians really believe and why.
Formal academic debates for New York Times executive editors
William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens on the existence of God:
William Lane Craig vs Bart Ehrman on the resurrection of Jesus:
William Lane Craig vs Sam Harris on morality:
And here are a couple of extra ones on social issues: (yes, we’ve thought about those issues, too)
You recognize those prominent atheists, don’t you Bill? Hitchens, Harris, Ehrman? That’s right – those are the people you’ve read about in Time magazine and in Newsweek! But you don’t know who Willliam Lane Craig is, do you? Well you won’t read about him in popular magazines, Bill. Yes, he’s a scholar. You have to read about him in academic presses, like Oxford University Press, where he is published. Yes, Bill – evangelical Christians even publish on social issues in prestigious academic presses, like Cambridge University Press, too. No, I know you don’t read academic books right now. We’ll get there, Bill. Baby steps. Baby steps.
Well, now. Wouldn’t you like to watch those debates and learn how the ideas of prominent atheists ideas hold up under questioning? You wouldn’t? Oh, that’s just being intolerant and close-minded, Bill. Just watch them anyway. No, your side doesn’t win. No, the outcomes are not even close. But that’s good Bill – that’s how people form accurate views – by listening to both sides, not just one side. That’s how you gain knowledge, Bill. It’s good for you to know what you are talking about, instead of just forming your entire worldview based on mockery and prejudice, and isolated from all logical analysis and empirical validation.
And when you’re done with the debates, we’ll find you some nice books on these topics featuring evangelical Christians from top academic presses, like Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and so on. Just let me know when you’re ready, Bill.
To my regular readers: I’ve written before about what scientists know about bias in the mainstream media.