That sums up the conundrum of a female believer who goes by the name Kell of a problem she’s facing with an atheist college professor who teaches her Classical and Christian backgrounds to English Literature class. The folks over at The Raving Atheist came across Kell’s message forum post and offer their views on the irony of a believer who finds herself on the wrong end of the Argument from Authority.
Those who wont be bothered with justifying their religion frequently resort to the argument from authority (discussed here), asserting that thereҒs some wise Holy Man somewhere who could win the debate on their behalf. But I dont know how to classify the argument I found on this discussion board. It comes from a college student who’s trying to figure out how to deal with the atheistic lecturer of her “Classical and Christian backgrounds to English Literature” course whoҒs been trashing the Bible for three weeks. She’s never experienced anything like this, having attended Christian schools from “prep to year 12,” but knows her teacher “has to have a massive change of heart of else he’s gonna be lost for all eternity” for corrupting the youth in violation of Matthew 18:6 (“it would be better for them to have a big stone around their neck and be thrown into the sea”). Since hes a “nice guy” she wants to confront him, but:
Here’s the reason why I’m holding back. He claims to have read the Bible many times, having studied it in depth for most of his life. So if it comes down to a debate with him, I’m almost certainly going to loose [sic]. Also, anything I say to him has probably been said to him before. I’d be pretty stupid to think I’m the only Christian to have ever taken this subject. If he’s not a Christian by now after all he knows then I really shouldn’t bother. He has no excuse for not believing in God, given his extensive knowledge of the Bible (Not that that’s a reason to not talk to him, because according to Romans 1:20, all men are without excuse, and yet we are still commissioned to reach out to them).
I’ve prayed about it and I still don’t know what to do. But the feeling that I have to do something keeps pressing in my mind. It’s driving me nuts and really upsetting me. I leave each lecture completely emotionally drained.
What’s worse still is that a lot of the stuff he says really makes sense . . .
In other words, the fact heҒs much more of an authority on the very book that she say proves him wrong—and that he could beat her in a debate about it and is already starting to convince her—proves that hes enough of an authority to know better.
The entry goes on to highlight some of the typical responses Kell has garnered so far including the ever popular “pray harder” suggestion. Reading the message board entry itself makes for no small amount of amusement at some of the advice being dolled out, but I must admit that I find Kell’s responses the most interesting such as this first bit from her on what she’s going to do:
I really don’t believe debating is the right thing to do. It’s clear to me that he knows the debate. Alll I can do is pray, let him know what I believe and show him love. And I really need your prayers because I tend to obsess over these kind of things. All the little facts floating around in my head really play on my mind and stop me from focussing on God and what he wants me to say.
Cause ya know you wouldn’t want facts getting in the way of your faith. Seriously, though, Kell seems keen on discussing the topic of God with her professor (who apparently has also indicated a willingness to speak with her on it) but she clearly understands that trying to debate him on the topic would be fruitless. She feels his knowledge of the Bible coupled with the likelihood that she won’t be the first to bring the topic up with him is probably not going to win him over. Interestingly enough when the thread she started gets involved in a debate of some of the very concepts involved in any potential discussion, Kell opts not to participate as she doesn’t feel she can get her “head around this philosophy stuff.”
Anyway, I thought it made for an interesting read and it was another opportunity to point out some of the fine reading to be had over at The Raving Atheist.