This is one of those conversations you’d pay to see, but here it is on YouTube to watch for free, courtesy of host Peter Robinson and Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Robinson talks with Stephen Meyer and “New New Atheist” historians Douglas Murray and Tom Holland. The topic is not so much whether God exists but how and what to affirm in Christianity. Murray (The War on the West) and Holland (Dominion) are both subtle, maybe a bit evasive, in explaining what they believe, but in simple terms they are pro-Christian atheists. They can’t bring themselves to accept theism of any kind but they recognize the profound ways in which Christianity has given us the culture that we find precious and worth conserving, even as it’s under siege.
I was hoping that Robinson would push the two of them to say what they think of scientific arguments for intelligent design, of the kind Meyer offers in Return of the God Hypothesis. He does ask them, “Do you buy any of this?” But they don’t really confront the subject head-on. That’s too bad because as Meyer points out, theism without God, so to speak, is “unstable and even dangerous.” Holland’s theme is that Christian ways of thinking are permanently with us — with all of us in the West — but that they can take alarming turns when not grounded by tradition. Meyer thinks that’s just what happened with Communism and now with wokeness.
A Timely Discussion
I could add that the discussion is very timely for me. I’m also someone who is a pro-Christian non-Christian, not a pro-Christian atheist but a pro-Christian Jew. Yesterday I had the strange experience of meeting with a Lutheran pastor at her church to work out the details of my birth mother’s upcoming graveside service. My mother had no particular religious beliefs but she was pro-faith and proud enough of her Lutheran background that, on a trip to Stockholm, she took me to visit the church where she was baptized. She pointed out the baptismal font. This was the reason, when she passed away recently, for my choice of the Lutheran pastor to lead the service. I encouraged her (meaning, the pastor) to conduct it in as traditional a manner as she would like. I believe my mother would have enjoyed that.
Yet as Steve Meyer says, isn’t there something inherently “unstable” about this — being “pro-“ any faith that you don’t also affirm in objective terms, “that it really happened”? Perhaps so! What about “dangerous”? I hope not. In any event, be sure to watch this very thoughtful and stimulating dialogue.