Don’t know why I was thinking about this…but during the Off the Map Conference in Denver last fall, Matt Casper (co-author of the book Jim and Casper Go to Church) sat down with Jim Henderson (the other co-author) and had a Q & A session with the audience.
If you haven’t read J&CG2C (like the abbreviation?), it’s worth a read. Jim Henderson is a ministry veteran; Matt Casper describes himself as an open-minded atheist. Together they visited a cross-section of churches across the US, and the book is about their journey. An eye-opening look at church culture through the eyes of a non-believer. So you can imagine how intriguing it was to have this friendly, funny, atheist guy sitting in a room full of Christians at this conference, fielding all kinds of questions from us. My 18-year-old son, who’s grown up around the church culture, said of the experience, “That guy has more insight into the church than most of the Christians I know.”
One of the things I remember Matt saying was how he is suspicious of people who claim to be 100 percent convinced of what they believe–people who have no doubt, people who are adamant about their opinion. He said his father was a “fundamental” atheist, fully convinced there is no God; Matt claims to be a more moderate atheist, believing there is no God, but keeping the possibility open that he could be wrong about it. In his view, nearly all the violence and atrocity in the world comes from people who are know that they know that their way of looking at things is the “right” way. Especially concerning religion. I got the idea that he believes such people are dangerous. And so he is naturally a bit put off by Christians who express an absolute belief in God, or are dogmatic about their particular doctrine. He respects believers in general, but being an intellectual, he simply does not comprehend how someone could know for sure there is a God, or never entertain any doubt about Him. To him, doubt is part of the natural order.
So here’s the brain-hurting part of the post. Do you think Matt is right about belief and doubt? Or partly right? Or wrong? Do you think it’s possible to be fully convinced–to have no doubts about what you believe? Do you think someone can be fully convinced without becoming intolerant of other viewpoints?
Do you think it’s dangerous to entertain no possibility of doubt? Do you see doubt as healthy, or a threat?
I’ll weigh in with my thoughts on this at some point in the comments; for now, I’m interested in what you think. Pass the aspirin.
Okay, your turn. Hit it.