Does New York Times executive editor Bill Keller understand Christianity?

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.

Further study

To my regular readers: I’ve written before about what scientists know about bias in the mainstream media.

3 thoughts on “Does New York Times executive editor Bill Keller understand Christianity?”

  1. David Haskell in his 2008 ‘Through a Lens Darkly: How the News Media Perceive and Portray Evangelicals’ analyzes Canadian national electronic media reported on Evangelicals from Jan 1, 1994 to Jan 1, 2005 plus surveys of their copy editors & writers. This PhD dissertation has likely not been read by most of our Canadian national electronic media copy editors & writers. They seem to be too busy reading liberal copy editors & writers like themselves.

    On that basis they tell Canadians what intelligent Canadians are thinking.


  2. This reminds me of an article I really liked at – it talks about what christianity and alien abductions have in common – “…based entirely on anecdotal stories without a single shred of physical evidence. …”

    Anyways, with all of the conservative publications out there, why then do you waste your time reading one that will offend your christian values? You can stick to all of the news sites started by the conservatives as an antidote to the liberal view or even just read the fountainhead and atlas shrugged over and over. But, if you want to keep reading these sites that so offend you, why don’t you take time to actually understand what they’re saying. While this particular article might be questioning something you believe in dearly so there is little need to question it yourself, with the possible exception of Romney and Paul (my favorites so I’m probably biased though I have read some bad things), the two far right conservative candidates (bachmann, Perry) are a mess of contradictions and stupidity. If those bachmann or perry end up winning the primary, I have little doubt Obama will win again.


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