I have been given the terrifying and exciting challenge of presenting a seminar at an upcoming humanist / atheist conference. An atheist friend of mine has recently begun the Free Society Institute, and together with an international humanist organisation (IHEU) is hosting a small day-long conference here in Cape Town. After I bemoaned the fact that public Christian voices so often do more harm than good, he invited me to do better, which left me no option but to accept, as daunting as the prospect is.
I’m intending to speak on the subject of lessons that Christians can learn from Dawkins’ God Delusion. There are some, and the book has become something of a symbol of the rise of secularism, which makes it a prime enemy from a Christian perspective, but illegitimately so in many ways. The book has a far stronger emphasis upon opposing abuses in the name of religion than religion per se, and these lessons are being consistently ignored by Christians to the detriment of our public moral credibility. Dawkins and I seem to fighting the same battles often enough, just from opposite sides. Hopefully I will also be able to use Dawkins as a platform on which to explain the true spiritual and social mandate of Christianity.
Seeing as it’s a humanist conference, I would like to express solidarity with many of the concerns of such humanist organisations, seeing as Christianity really ought to excel in terms of love for people, but so often seems characterised by arrogance and even hatred.
As an example of discrediting arrogance, consider the unbelievable story of a recent Christian blog post in which this friend of mine (of the FSI) was embroiled (massive credit to him for his shrewdness in recording each stage of this mess):
For an example of intolerance (even hatred), you can check out the story posted recently involving the other conference organiser (IHEU) in Nigeria. They held a symposium to oppose the recent trend of hunting ‘child witches’ that has led to child abuse (and even deaths, if I’m not mistaken). Sure enough, a church (ironically named Liberty Gospel Church) burst into the venue, damaging property, stealing property, and allegedly beating one of the organisers. You can read about it and see some video of the attack here:
The church responsible is headed up by a woman called Helen Akpabio, who is fanning much of the child-witchcraft flame. Have a look at this ‘exposition’ as she calls it, a chilling drama that she has made to convince people that children are putting curses on them. There is a mountain of work to be done in African Christianity:
Clearly, secularism is not a bigger enemy than Christians are to themselves, and so I am pleased to be associated with the upcoming conference and grateful for the invitation. I hope that I will be able to represent Christ in winsome way, seeing as there is so much out there that understandably turns people off.