Saturday, August 02, 2008

Conversation with an atheist - TGIF

Yesterday I had the unique opportunity of being interviewed at TGIF, a Christian based coffee-shop meeting that occurs every Friday morning at Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria. The interview revolved around my journey away from Christianity, and my current beliefs as an atheist. Roger, who I’ve known for a number of years through blogging, and Thorsten, who leads the TGIF talks, originally came up with the idea as a way of presenting, through a non-confrontational discussion, some of the reasons for unbelief.

This is the first time that I’ve articulated my beliefs in front of such a large group of people, and naturally I was quite nervous. Thinking back over the interview, I thought I spent too much time on some of the answers, wasn’t too clear in others, and at one point I lost my train of thought (next time I will remember to bring notes!) But I think I did okay in terms of bringing the central points across.

The formal questions that were asked of me:
  • You were once a Christian. Tell us about your Christian story.
  • You say you are an atheist, but your position sounds agnostic. Why is this?
  • What do you do about Jesus?
  • What are the common theistic arguments you come across, and why don't you accept them?
There were many more formal questions, but we were running out of time (probably due to me), and I think Roger decided, quite wisely, to spend the remaining time on questions from the audience.

There were many questions from the floor, but these are the few that I remember off-hand:
  • Isn't atheism just like any other religion?
  • How do you find meaning in life as an atheist?
  • Do you think your current beliefs about God are influenced by the relationship you had with your own father?
  • How do you make sense of evil and good?

I want to thank Roger who prepared and conducted the interview, and for Thorsten for providing the opportunity. And also I want to thank everyone in the audience who asked questions, and who spoke to me afterwards.

If you are reading this, and you attended the interview, please comment below and let me know your thoughts. What was the most interesting part of the interview for you, and was there anything that I wasn’t too clear about? And if we did something similar again, what could be improved, in terms of the way it was conducted?

The interview, as well as the resulting discussion, was recorded, so a podcast of it might appear on-line soon.

9 comments:

CyberKitten said...

KP was asked: What do you do about Jesus?

What a truly bizarre question. How did you answer that one?

Kudos for putting your beliefs up for public scrutiny like that...

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Cyberkitten

What do you do about Jesus?

This is how the question appears in my notes, but it wasn't asked exactly in this way. The question was aimed at finding out what I currently believe about Jesus, in a historical sense.

CyberKitten said...

KP said: This is how the question appears in my notes, but it wasn't asked exactly in this way. The question was aimed at finding out what I currently believe about Jesus, in a historical sense.

Thanks for the clarification.

Edward T. Babinski said...

The "Friendly Atheist" blog guy got to address an entire church. They let him in the pulpit next to the preacher in the other pulpit.

Being a member of a non-theist group in Greenville, S.C. we've had a few curious Christians attend a meeting or two. Usually some of us give the Christian our testimonies of entering and leaving the fold. (I also edited a book of such testimonies that includes some by prominent writers, titled LEAVING THE FOLD: TESTIMONIES OF FORMER FUNDAMENTALISTS)

By the way we have a woman from South Africa in our non-theist group. Just a coincidence I'm sure.

See also the DEBUNKING CHRISTIANITY blogsite which features a group of bloggers who have all left the Christian fold. Several of them have written books as well.

webmdave said...

I'd like to hear that podcast. Hopefully you'll be able to post a link to it here.

P3T3RK3Y5 said...

sounds like a great time.

wish i could've been there.

Cobus said...

Thanx for helping the conversation along by distancing yourself from what I perceive as Atheist fundamentalism, the idea that nothing good can be found in religion.

Yesho said...

Rhaa, no recording.

iPod glitch, or SINISTER CONSPIRACY?

Kevin Parry said...

Yesho wrote
iPod glitch, or SINISTER CONSPIRACY?

I don't think there was a human cause regarding the glitch. I strongly suspect it was a Divine Conspiracy! :-)