Friday, October 12, 2007

From the reptilian brain of Southern America

~From Opinion Journal
Perhaps Mr. Dawkins was surprised by this reception. He recently referred to the Bible Belt states as "the reptilian brain of southern and middle America," in contrast to the "country's cerebral cortex to the north and down the coasts." This debate marks the first time Mr. Dawkins has appeared in the Old South. Maybe his publishers suggested it would be a good idea. After all, "The God Delusion" and similar atheist tracts have been selling like hotcakes (or buttered grits) down here.

But why? Are Christians staying up late on Saturday night to read these books and failing to show up at church on Sunday morning, as Mr. Dawkins might hope? So far, the answer is no, according to Bill Hay, senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church just outside of Birmingham. He tells me that there hasn't been much of an exodus from his church as a result of these books. But he does think that his congregants are aware of them and want to know how to respond to such arguments. He notes that 200 men show up to church at 6 a.m. once a week for a class on Christian doctrine.

Lee Strobel, who used to be a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California, tells me that he thinks there has been a nationwide "resurgence in apologetics" among evangelicals in response to the recent spate of atheism books...

Defenders of the faith are drawing crowds of thousands in person as well. Next month, the Southern Evangelical Seminary will host a National Conference on Christian Apologetics, which will include a special segment for teens. Younger people are some of the most avid consumers of apologetics texts, according to Christian author Jonalyn Fincher, who speaks to college and high-school groups regularly. She says that in the 20th century, Christians often reacted to science's attacks on religion by "running away from culture." But in recent years more Christians have begun to take the attitude, "If our God is the God of truth, what are we afraid of?"

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