This morning I did an interview with the hosts of “Faith Radio Mornings” in Minnesota. The topic was my book You’re not as Crazy as I Think. (You can listen here.) The interview started with a question regarding the opening illustration of my book, drawn from the Woody Allen film “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. Truth be known, I was still emerging from the fog of sleep (the interview began at 5:40 AM MST) and for about twenty seconds I couldn’t even remember what I had said or why! I was like a carbureted motorcycle that sputters for thirty seconds after a cold start until it gets warmed up.
Fortunately the interview improved from there (I think). At one point I was asked what I’ve learned from other people with whom I disagree. I was tempted to say “I’ve learned from them how to accept defeat humbly when encountering a superior intellectual force”. But then I thought that might be misunderstood, so instead I said that I’ve been challenged by atheists on the depth of the problem of evil and in particular on the morally problematic areas of scripture.
I noted as an example Joshua 6-11, one of those genocide passages which most pastors and congregants assiduously avoid. But not atheists. They tend to be more familiar with these problem passages than Christians who confess the Bible as God’s Word. And even if their treatments of these problem texts can often be uncharitable, uninformed, and flat out wrong, at least they’re confronting them, and thereby highlighting the fact that Christians tend not to.
It’s a well established fact that when people read a text, they tend to read the parts they understand slowly and with care. And then when they come to parts they do not clearly understand they speed up and gloss over them. Needless to say, things should be working precisely in reverse. We should spend the most time carefully reflecting on the parts of the text we don’t understand, not glossing them to get to the parts we do understand.
The same goes with our worldviews, whether they be theistic, or atheistic, or anything else. When you get to the aspects of your worldview that trouble you the most, don’t skip right on to the next chapter. Instead, take a deep breath and start reading slowly…