It was a robust but respectful discussion on air with Dan Barker for the Freedom From Religion Foundation this morning. If you missed it and would like to hear it, click here.) I wanted to share my initial thoughts in hopes we can learn from the discussion:
First, notice how Mr. Barker came out swinging calling God evil. What he was trying to do was to get us to react out of instinct (an animal thought process) instead of thoughtfully and logically. Many humanists will attempt to frame the discussion on their grounds in order to make us look reactionary, indiscriminate and hateful—just like they view God.
Second my goal was to be respectfull and look for contradictions in Mr. Barker’s beliefs and motive. God revealed three huge contradictions:
First, Mr. Barker stated he was not opposed to people practicing religion according to their own beliefs—that his organization only stepped in when government attempts to impose any suppression or support of religion. He stated he thought the government correctly charged a couple with manslaughter because as “Christians” they refused medical attention for their sick child, resulting in her death. So contradiction number one is that Barker claims to fight against government interfering in or supporting a privately held religious belief, but they contradicted themselves by urging the government’s involvement in the above case. This shows a selective application of their methods to suit their own anti-religious beliefs.
The second contradiction revealed was in regards to a case out Easy where an atheist girl protested a prayer mural on a public school wall. Barker earlier claimed his organization was only interested in intervening when government put itself into the religious circle. According to Barker this girl was threatened—and if this was the case—that is shameful! But his organization got involved when local florist businesses refused FFRF’s request to send the girl flowers after she won her court case. So FFRF claims to not oppose an individual’s right to live their religious convictions—unless it contradicts FFRF’s “values” and motive.
The third contradiction ties in with the first one. The same case where the parents allowed their child to not receive medical attention and subsequently die was attacked by Barker. He said no person had the right to impose their religious or personal beliefs on another if it harmed the other person. Now I do not technically disagree with Barker on this point if addressed rationally, but Barker and his organization proved its hypocrisy when it refused to apply the same standards to the murder of babies in this nation. He pulled out the tired old argument of a “woman’s choice” and that we cannot possibly know when life begins. He went on to state that “the fetus does not have the same rights as a child”. This proves that Barker’s religion is humanism—individual selective morality. Under that belief system morality would cease to exist as people could do anything they want when they are guided by their own code of morality.
It reminds me of the tried and true statement that there are really no atheists—they just believe in a different god–and it is them.
We can learn much from our discussion with Mr. Barker. First, do not let people cloud issues with emotional appeals and irrational conclusions to hide the real issues. Second, when discussing an emotional subject, listen to your “opponent” and listen for contradictions in their rationale and thought process. Do not let them frame the issue with smoke screens meant to distract and discredit you.
Lastly when dealing with people who claim to be atheists, understand deep down there is something in them that is pointing them to the existence of God (Romans 1). A true atheist has to abandon the laws of cause and effect and support no standards of morality whatsoever. Their insistence on some code of morality outside of a personal one for every person proves they know there must be a higher moral authority somewhere. It is just a question of who or what governs the laws of morality.
While Mr. Barker and I obviously see things from completely different perspectives and belief systems, I appreciate his willingness to come on our show. I hope we as Christians learned something about the importance of understanding thought process when we talk with atheists or unbelievers. The stated issue is usually not the real issue. When we can allow the Holy Spirit to be our ears and stay in the peace God wants us to experience we can prove their thought process illogical. Maybe, just maybe, we plant a seed for other Christians to water if it ever sprouts.
- Freedom From Religion: An interview with Dan Barker (standupforthetruth.com)