Richard Dawkins has helped the faith debate, says Christian pastor
Propelled by the "arrogant, dismissive attitude" of new atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Australian pastor Karl Faase has created a series of short videos which look at some of the biggest apologetics issues of our time.
Hearing Dawkins' dismissal of Christianity as simply "not true", Faase says he felt compelled to help Christians respond.
"You could say he [Dawkins] just annoyed me or you could say it was the call of God, but I just felt like there's a major shift in the way we're talking to the community," Faase explains.
He says new atheism, championed by the likes of Dawkins and Sam Harris, has "moved away from a period of post modernity and back towards modernity – so now it's a question of what is true, whereas under post modernity it was about experience, and what works for the individual."
This, Faase contends, has actually helped shape the debate, and moved apologetics firmly into public discourse.
"I actually think they [Dawkins, Harris et al] have been very helpful, because it's been put on the agenda. When it was that grey, no man's land, where it was 'whatever works for you, whatever you believe, is fine' it was like we were fighting in the fog. They've defined the discussion in a helpful way."
However, he says, the attitude put forward by these men is "enormously unhelpful", having been picked up by the mainstream media commentators such as Ricky Gervais and Bill Maher.
"All [the average person] reads and all they hear is this arrogant, divisive, dismissive attitude towards anything to do with faith and belief," Faase says.
"Basically, the Church needs to respond, and I want to help."
Faase, who lists the existence of suffering as the top reason people don't believe in God, says apologetics needs to be done differently to reflect the new way that conversations are happening.
"The trouble with apologetics as its been done up to now, is that everybody, regardless of whether they have a degree or even if they've finished high school, asks the same questions. And the trouble is that apologists speak as if they're arguing with Richard Dawkins, and we pitch our responses way above the head of the average person," he says.
Towards Belief, a series of ten 30 minute documentary-style videos, uses interviews and an interactive discussion guide to help people get to grips with some of the biggest questions surrounding the Christian faith, in what Faase hopes is an accessible way.
Nicky Gumbel, Amy Orr-Ewing and John Lennox all contribute to the series, which addresses topics such as religious violence, the exclusivity of faith and homosexuality.
Faase believes that many Christians have been "badgered into fearful silence". Towards Belief aims to help people begin to engage positively.
"We need the apologists who go to incredible lengths and depths to argue at the highest level, but that's not going to help somebody in their first year of uni who ends up in a philosophy class," Faase says.
"We need to offer a set of responses that anybody can use at least to give a ground to stand on and start a conversation from."
Toward Belief is available from Authentic Media now.