Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Antagonistic Atheism: David Robertson vs Mike Lee

Here is a fascinating discussion from a recent Unbelievable? Radio Program between Mike Lee (aka "The Religious Antagonist") and David Robertson, Pastor of St Peter's Free Church, Dundee and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity. David and Mike debate whether Mike's antagonistic approach is a helpful one. An interesting look at emotional atheism as well as a critique of those mocking Christianity. Subscribe to the Unbelievable? Podcast here. Don't forget about the Unbelievable? Conference 2012 here.

Full MP3 Audio here.


Anonymous said...

Mike Lee got skewered.

Birdieupon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birdieupon said...

Mike Lee proves himself to be cringe-worthily ignorant and caught in a messy contradiction between both celebrating the anti-intellectualism of American culture and lamenting it (depending upon whether it's convenient for his cliched anti-theism rants of course). David wiped the floor with him, and I wonder whether this "religious antagonist" will really put his money where he mouth is (or should that be "mouth where his money is") and attend church for the next 20 years?

dgfisch said...

Robinson was rather effective at showing how ignorant Lee was of authentic Christianity, but the moments when Justin brought up the idea of grace was the time that Lee seemed the most befuddled. Antagonistic atheism fails because it is constantly employing strawman fallacies, engaging in ad hominem attacks. They speak at times of what they truly don't know, and have been the purveyors of alot of misinformation. But with Lee, antagonistic atheism is the lowpoint of the New Atheist Movement.

If aggressive atheism is using ridicule and scorn to lampoon the opposition, what is agressive Christianity? Oh yes, it's the Great Commission (Mt. 28: 19, 20)

Anonymous said...

The Great Commission isn't in and of itself an aggressive act. And I see nothing in the verse you quoted to suggest otherwise.

dgfisch said...


Perhaps there is a touch of irony in my ideas of what "aggressive" Christianity must be in light of what antagonistic atheism practices. After all, go make disciples ... baptize ... teach is hardly threatened when contrasted with ridicule ... scorn ... lampoon. The Great Commission is the practice of the committed, convinced Christian.

Still, I would offer that to the secularist, such a Christian who shares his/her faith comfortably has the problem of being one "out to get" people. I also see the humor in Paul's enthusiatic defense of his faith and manner of life as a missionary to the Gentiles to Herod Agrippa in Acts 26. Her, a scruffy prisoner in chains invites the king to be as much a Christian as Paul is "except for the chains." (Acts 26:29). The king may be puzzled at such a man, and put off by one who's demeanor shows a joyful individual who could not be put off by restrictive prison routines. It is to such a one that the governor Festus would write off as mad (Acts 26: 24). So what the New Atheist engages in today is rather old hat. Presume to know better. Belittle. Totally misunderstand. All this in the practice of the Great Commission.

I appreciate the point made by D.A. Carson in his The Intolerance of Tolerance is that he sees a distinction between proselytizing and evangelitizing. The sharing of faith is never to be high-pressure sales but a gentle convincing. The baptizing of whole realms by converted monarchs was examples of wholesale folly. This is not the goal of the Christian engaged in the Great Commission.

Carson goes on to defend the need for the Christian to have the fullest bounds of religious freedom so that his ideas can be shared. The secularist view of Church-State separation (also touched on by Mike Lee in the Unbelievable? podcast) is a terrible dichotomy where an overly expansive State could remove an unwelcome competitor. A better solution sees a trichotomy of Church-State-Society, where the first two have equal right to influence the third without domination of each to it (society) or each other. State has a set role, Church its set role, and it is feasible that each supports the other as it supports the third.

Anonymous said...

This was fantastic. David is a really genuine guy. His 36:27.00 comment was just awesome! I sincerely pray that Mike will listen to himself and reconsider his position.

Correction: The title says "David Roberts vs. Mike Lee", but it should be "David Robertson".


Brian said...

Thanks for that correction, Joshua.

Anonymous said...

If you say to me, 'there is a God' and I say 'where'? am I being antaganistic or simply asking you to back up your assertion?

Neil Shenvi said...

You're not being antagonistic. You're just making a category error. No Christian claims that God is a physical thing present in some location. Asking a Christian 'where is God?' is like asking a logician 'where is the excluded middle?' or like asking a mathematician 'where is the number three?'

Anonymous said...

am I being antaganistic or simply asking you to back up your assertion?

I'm not sure what your point is. No one has suggested that asking for evidence for a claim - any claim - is inherently antagonistic. Indeed, the whole point of apologetics is to provide answers such questions. Of course, everything really depends on the motive behind the initial question. Is it a genuine attempt to enquire? Or is it a "gotcha" tactic.

Either way, I don't think that Mike, the Religious Antagonist, was asking much in the way of questions.

Neil Shenvi said...

Anonymous, you wrote: "am I being antaganistic or simply asking you to back up your assertion?"

As I said, if you're asking 'where' you are neither being antagonistic nor are you asking me to back up my assertion. You are just making a category error.

"Either way, I don't think that Mike, the Religious Antagonist, was asking much in the way of questions."

I agree with that. But the subject of this debate was 'Where will antagonistic atheism get us?' not 'Does God exist?' So the focus of the discussion was the inherent inconsistency and immaterity of Lee's position.

Even then, if you listen carefully, Robertson shows that Lee lacks any ontological basis for using words like 'right', 'wrong', 'good', 'just', etc... while continually appealing to these concepts. That's a powerful argument against the coherence of Lee's worldview and in favor of the Christian worldview.

valentin said...

I believe Mike was on Matt slicks show. Carm radio 5/03/12. I think it was this Guy.

Anonymous said...

Neil, I agree with all of that. The other Anonymous seems to be asking an unrelated question.

The lack of moral absolutes reduces the new atheist critique of a God to an often angry rant against a Being they don't believe exists with a standard of morals they know can't be universally true. "Dachau is wrong" is not a fact, it's an opinion. I wonder if Mike got this point?

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