A Lesson From Dr. Dan Lambert on Dealing With My Book

Dr. Lambert is a professor for John Brown University; what looks like a good Evangelical college. He's using my book in a class titled: "Capstone Seminar in Christian Life." He sent me an email about the class:
The class I’m using your book for is a special May Term class. Only 4 weeks long and about 30 class hours. I have chosen to only use your book and no others since it’s such a short class. You give readers enough to digest without adding in others like Flew, McGrath, or Dawkins (yea, I chose you over them!). It’s a senior-level class and we typically have 5-8 students take it in May. I have 15 students this time due to the topic. We have met twice already and they are engaging well, so I am excited to see where we go.
He also sent me his syllabus where he offers some great advice to his students and to Christians everywhere who want to deal with the arguments in my book. I consider his advice to be a model for Christian would be apologists:
Reading Reflection Papers: Read VERY thoroughly the assigned chapters for each day. Use a highlighter or pen to mark in the book. Write one page on each chapter about what you read. Do this in a format as if you were having lunch with Loftus and discussing his book with him. You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily. THIS WILL BE MUCH HARDER THAN YOU ANTICIPATE!
Whether it'll be much harder than they anticipate I don't know, but read again what this Christian professor said:
You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily.
I especially like the fact that Dr. Lambert did the reasonable thing by forbidding Bible quotes to refute my points, since if they did so it will not have an effect on someone who doesn't believe the Bible. Kudos to him on that. I think this is the difference between ignorant Bible thumpers and intelligent Christians. Lambert wants to educate and train intelligent Christians for ministry, not Bible thumpers.

I appreciate his intellectual integrity and congenial spirit toward me on the issues that separate us, which is also something Christians can learn from him. We have a somewhat shared background but we have never personally met. He's sending his students here to DC to check us out. Welcome to you all.

6 comments:

jbudrdanl said...

Thanks for the mention, John. I think we have a lot to learn from each other. Not just you and me personally, but "we" in the sense of atheists and Christians who want earnest, civil dialog.

To my students -- dive in!!

Landon Hedrick said...

That sounds pretty neat, a university class devoted to studying the material in your book! I began reading it some time ago but haven't had a chance to continue due to other academic obligations. When I get back to reading more, I'll post any comments I have on my blog.

Alexis said...

It is very humbling to see how people from different ideologies can argue together in a civil manner. May be we can finally start to understand each other. I am an atheist and although I think that Christianity is a delusion, I understand why people would not want to let go of God (especially in difficult times). May be we can persuade each other to reach some common denominator and get some conservatives to become more liberal. I have no problem with liberal Christians, it is the bible worshipers (right wing evangelicals) that scare the sh@#$% out of me.

Albert Ip said...

I will be most interested in the outcome of this exercise. Would Dr. Lambert be able to publish a few of the students' reflective papers (names and grades withhold)?

edson said...

While the approach of not using the bible at answering atheist argument but rather using critical thinking and logic may be good at the beginning, I think this is not a sustinable and effective way of debunking atheists. What sustained Christianity for millenia was not logic or critical thinking but the spirit that led to the development of the bible.

I cannot see how logically atheists and christians can discuss the subject of the miracles surrounding Jesus or end time scenarios. Or discussing where christianity falls or stands using critical thinking. Therefore right wing Christianity has a point in putting the trust in bible to be a key of faith. Christianity was not constructed by logic but seemingly illogical puzzles that became what we know today as Christianity.

Evan said...

What sustained Christianity for millenia was not logic or critical thinkingCould not have said that better myself!