This post from Internet Monk is generating some good conversation around the blogosphere. iMonk dissects a very funny interview with Ricky Gervais to show that in regards to the “competition” between atheism and Christianity in the West, particularly, in America, the game has changed entirely, and evangelicals are still playing as if this were the 70’s. Evangelicals like William Lane Craig and other similarly brilliant types are trying to score points through debates, as if the real thing pulling teenagers away from the church was that, after reading six or seven books on either side of the argument and carefully studying a number of televised debates, they each decided that atheism was, in fact, the more rational choice and that to continue attending church would be intellectually dishonest.
You see, evangelicals have made such outrageous assumptions and promises about happiness, healing, everything working out, knowing God, answered prayer, loving one another and so on that proving us to be liars isn’t even a real job. It’s just a matter of tuning in to an increasing number of voices who say “It’s OK to not believe. Give yourself a break. Stop tormenting yourself trying to believe. Stop propping up your belief with more and more complex arguments. Just let go of God.”
You can send an army against an army. What do you send against a group saying “None of this has any point. Give it up and go have a coke.”
One thing I would add is that atheists have a considerable advantage in that what they preach is largely what they practice. “Give it up and go have a coke” may not be an especially profound or compelling message, but for all appearances most atheists seem to be happy, well-adjusted people (with maybe a bit of a chip on their shoulder for organized religion) who lead normal, fulfilling lives. They say, “give yourself a break,” and give themselves plenty of breaks. Their behavior, in short, is consistent with their message. That’s attractive.
Not so with Christians. “Jesus came that you might have life,” we say, “and have it to the full.” “Accept Jesus into your heart and you’ll never have to worry about a thing.” But of course, for all appearances most Christians worry about plenty of things—401(k)s, mortgages, insurance payments, the Jehovah’s Witnesses moving in next door. And most of us don’t lead lives that are any “fuller” than anyone else’s. To use a marketing metaphor, we advertise that our product is the best on the market, getting results far superior to our competitors’, yet in the end we end up about the same.
Both products get you the same results: why spring for the pricier name brand when the generic stuff works just fine?