Atheists, 9/11, and Christian apologetics

So I’m headed into town, running an errand or two, and I flip through the local radio stations looking for something to listen to while I drive. It’s just after 6pm on September 11th, and the local Christian station is running The Bible Answer Man show. Hank’s guest this week is famous apologist and writer Lee Strobel, but before introducing his guest, Hank says a word or two about the terrorist attacks 6 years ago. I continue flipping through the stations, so I don’t hear everything Hank has to say, but before long I’ve looped around and am back at the Christian station again as Lee starts to speak.

Lee, not surprisingly, is there to plug his latest book, which Hank’s ever-vigilant “resource staff” is always ready to sell you via telephone order or on the web. First, though, Lee wants to thank Hank for remembering 9/11, which gave America and American Christians a much needed call to awake from their ease and luxury to confront the growing menace threatening us all. Lee then goes on to draw a parallel between the 9/11 terrorists, and atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, saying that just as the 9/11 terrorists attacked America and dealt us a serious blow, so too atheists were attacking the very foundations of Christian belief.

Yes, that’s right. Lee Strobel tried, on the air, to associate Richard Dawkins and other atheists with the fundamentalist fanatics who bombed the World Trade Center. Apparently Strobel thinks having solid, reasonable arguments against Christian dogma is the same as hijacking airliners full of innocent people, flying them into office buildings, and causing thousands of deaths and billions of dollars worth of damage. But the good news, according to Lee, is that just as America rebounded from the 9/11 attacks, Christians (he claims) are rising to the challenge and answering the atheists, with a rising surge of new books of apologetics, rising enrollments in conservative seminaries, and people, I dunno, flocking into churches or something.

At this point, Hank chimes in with a remark about his moral obligation to remind people how much a radio ministry like The Bible Answer Man costs, and to ask for more donations. Lee joins with a comment that, slightly paraphrased, is a very interesting observation. Lee wanted to emphasize the importance of ministries like TBAM, and the expense involved in maintaining a radio broadcast. Apparently Christians are spending literally millions of dollars to try and make Christianity sound reasonable and relevant in this day and age–and it’s not enough! They still need more cash!

At that point, I moved on. But I was struck by Stroebel’s observation. Millions of dollars, for just one ministry out of many, all spent in an effort to make Christianity sound real. I wonder, does Rupert Murdoch spend millions of dollars trying to convince people that Fox News exists? Does NOAA have a huge budget dedicated to trying to convince people that the weather is real? And how much money does, say, Privileged Planet author Guillermo Gonzalez spend trying to persuade people to believe in the existence of stars, planets, and outer space?

I’m sorry, does that sound strange? Why would people need to spend millions of dollars trying to “persuade” someone if the thing in question really does exist?

Yeah, my question exactly.

3 Responses to “Atheists, 9/11, and Christian apologetics”

  1. ausyoyo Says:

    I know , I know, but not a strong argument given the amount coke or nike spends promoting their very concrete products.

  2. The Professor Says:

    They’re not spending that money on trying to convince people that beverages and sneakers are real, though. 😉

  3. The Professor Says:

    It’s a good point though. Nike and Coke are spending big bucks trying to sell the products they manufacture. Is it really all that different with Christian radio and TV ministries?

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