“How to Talk to Atheists” – Review
Patrick Coffin w/ William Lane Craig, Fr. Robert Spitzer, and Jennifer Fulwiler
Catholic Answers, CD or MP3
Since launching StrangeNotions.com, I’ve been inundated with requests. Most take the same form: “Can you help my atheist son?” or “Can you respond to my atheist friend on Facebook?” or "What do I say to my anti-Christian professor?"
I respond as much as possible but I can't reply to all of them. There's simply no way to personally engage every atheist argument. But that doesn't mean I ignore them. Even if I can't respond to the atheist myself, I point people to good resources that will help them to respond. I believe the old adage is true: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime."
Patrick Coffin’s new CD set, “How to Talk to Atheists”—also available as MP3 downloads—is a great new way to "teach a man to fish." A former atheist himself, Patrick brought in three of the top Christian experts on atheism to discuss the most common arguments and issues.
The first interview is with William Lane Craig, an Evangelical philosopher and today's top Christian debater. Each year, Craig visits universities and conferences around the world to debate atheists on topics like the existence of God, objective morality, and Jesus’ resurrection. Friends and foes alike respect his acumen. One atheist praised Craig’s performance against the infamous Christopher Hitchens, saying, “Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.”
In "How to Talk With Atheists", Craig unpacks some of his go-to arguments, like the Kalaam cosmological argument and the moral argument. He also probes the concept of infinity, using analogies and philosophy to show why an infinite universe is logically impossible.
Patrick' second interview is with Fr. Robert Spitzer, a true Renaissance man. Fr. Spitzer is a Jesuit priest, a gifted poet, a world-class physicist and philosopher, the former president of Gonzaga University, author of several great books, and a strong advocate of both faith and science.
Building on Craig's philosophical points, Fr. Spitzer take a scientific approach, covering quantum physics, multiverses, and complex scientific theories. He spends a good amount of time on the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, which shows how all models of the universe must have a beginning—a beginning that points to God. What makes this interview so fruitful is that Fr. Spitzer explains tough scientific concepts in easy, down-to-earth language.
Popular blogger Jennifer Fulwiler rounds out the interviews. She offers the unique perspective of an ordinary, educated laywomen who also used to be an atheist. Jennifer grew up in a non-religious home where she was raised to pursue truth through science and reason. However, through online comment boxes, discussions with her husband, and books on Christian apologetics, she later came to believe both ultimately pointed to God. In 2007, she entered the Catholic Church.
Her background allows her to speak from firsthand experience about talking with atheists. She gives practical suggestions like not assuming that someone has denounced God for intellectual reasons, or that a particular apologetics book will resonate with all atheists. It may be true, for example, that the book doesn’t speak the same “language” as the atheist—it may be too scientific, too basic, or too pejorative.
Jennifer spends much time on the emotional and social elements of atheism. Often, she says, people embrace atheism because of their environmental conditions or personal experiences. To effectively dialogue with atheists you first need to understand why they became atheists.
Overall, the audio set brings tremendous value to anyone hoping to talk with non-believers. Patrick Coffin has gathered three top experts who each focus on one facet of atheism: Craig on the philosophical, Fr. Spitzer on the scientific, and Jennifer on the personal. Together they cover atheism from many angles and give the listener an array of practical insights and strategies. If you're wondering what to say to an atheist friend or family member, this audio set is for you.
***Listen to a short sample clip:***
Download the interview here (1 minute)
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Each guest has written at least one book on their primary topic. From William Lane Craig check out Reasonable Faith, or the popularized edition, On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision. From Fr. Robert Spitzer you'll want the challenging New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. And while it hasn't been released yet, Jen Fulwiler's spiritual memoir recounting her conversion will be published by Ignatius Press in early 2014.