Yesterday I was interviewed on Bob Dutko’s radio show on WMUZ in Detroit. You can hear the interview here. This is my third time on the show, and this time it was to talk about my new book with John Loftus, God or Godless. Mr. Dutko has a conservative Christian radio talk show and conforms to the set of assumptions that likely come to mind when you hear that description. He is a Christian apologist, but his approach to apologetics is a bit more combative than mine. For example, he has a picture on the website with a pair of boxing gloves hung over his shoulders. So yes, we approach matters from somewhat different directions. But I’ve found Mr. Dutko to put on a good interview.
In this interview he first wanted to talk about John Loftus’ deconversion from Christianity. This was a difficult topic to start with because from my perspective it was a bit of a rabbit trail. I don’t know John’s story, and he has declined to offer me a copy of Why I became an atheist for review in this blog (and I ain’t paying for a copy!) so I haven’t read his story first hand. But I did observe that people have rational and psychological reasons for belief. And I noted Paul Vitz’s argument that atheism could be a projection based on one’s personal history (a reversal of Feuerbach’s famous claim).
While I think it is important to consider the non-rational grounds that cause people to deconvert from one set of beliefs and convert to another (in this case John’s deconversion from Christianity was a conversion to atheism), we have to be careful not to treat our speculations about the psychological grounds for deconversion/conversion as an excuse to ignore the rational grounds one provides (even if that provision is after the fact) to justify one’s change in belief.
Sadly atheists are often guilty of doing just this. Remember when Antony Flew announced that he’d become a theist? Immediately the online skeptic communities exploded with speculations that Flew must be senile or hedging his bets in fear of his own mortality. Such speculations were offered as an excuse to marginalize Flew and the reasons he offered for his deconversion from atheism and conversion to Christianity. Christians should be equally careful about offering psychological speculations to explain away those who deconvert from Christianity and to something else.
Next, I’ll note that Dutko asked me to address the one debate in the book on child sacrifice in the Bible. Given that I knew I only had about two minutes to do this, it was an impossible task. Give me a small group of attentive people, a roaring fire, and overstuffed couches in the corner of a trendy coffee shop and we can hash that topic out for a couple hours with our Bibles open on the coffee table. You just can’t say much of substance in a couple minutes while knowing the next commercial break is rapidly bearing down on you.
But such as it is. You take the interviews as they come.