On a whim, I invited the theists who regularly post over at Bill Tammeus' blog to meet me last Saturday evening for a discussion about Richard Dawkins' latest book, The Greatest Show on Earth. I first announced I'd be there on Tuesday of last week, so that anyone wishing to show up would have plenty of time to schedule it. I even specifically invited the "Master Debater" Jim Christensen (or at least, I told the kids he mentors to invite him). Given the aggressive and offensive nature of the juveniles posting over there, I wasn't surprised to see vitriol and insults.
Clearly, just the thought of meeting an atheist is frightening and worrisome to the youngsters. So when polite invitations didn't work, I tried challenging their courage. As expected, they declined, as only cowards and fools will do. I predicted over there that only Jim would have the balls to show up - and sure enough, he was the only one who did. All the kiddies ran away to Lawrence, instead. (I have to wonder about the ethics of allowing teenagers to go to a college fraternity on a Saturday night). Ho, hum. Too bad they didn't show, maybe they would have learned something about tolerance, ethics and genial conversation.
As it was, there ended up being quite a lively crowd at Borders last Saturday. I really wasn't expecting much (again). Instead, when I arrived I saw Cole Morgan, Iggy Dybol and Greg Swartz sitting waiting for me. "Uh, oh." I thought. I worried that Jim wouldn't come over to our table with all four of us sitting there. Glad to see I needn't have been concerned. A few minutes after I sat down, I was tapped on the shoulder by the man himself, Jim Christensen. A quick round of introductions and a trip to the coffee bar (I bought Jim his first coffee, like I said I would), and the conversation took off.
Of course, I was hoping to focus more on Dawkins, and less on the theological arguments of atheism and belief. For better or worse, Iggy and Jim started to go astray almost from the start. I was impressed by some of the admissions and concessions that Jim made -- he's not a Young Earth Creationist, but a "Gap Theorist". He does accept most of evolutionary explanations, he just thinks there must be a "guiding force" (Star Wars Jedi Masters, perhaps?). While I tried several times to get the conversation back to evolution and the evidence from the book, it was futile. Jim and Iggy (and the rest of us, I'll admit) had too much of a good time arguing atheism vs. theism.
I do have to wonder, though. Jim made several comments about ethics and whether we thought it was right to be posting on a blog (Bill's) where perceived threats and offensive language were used. Of course, he didn't have much to say when I pointed out that his "kids", Adam and Will, were also on there and posting insults, personal attacks and slander. I guess being unethical only applies to atheists, because a good Christian can always ask forgiveness, right?