I attend a small, local college in Northwest Florida, right along the southern part of the Bible Belt.
The college isn't very big, and just recently upgraded from a simple community college to a full four-year college. Many of us call it 13th grade, and it makes for a very tight-nit feeling with many of the students and professors, which is nice.

For as long as I've attended (over three years now, including dual-enrollment during the latter part of high school), there has always been a Christian Apologetics club on campus. For those who don't know, the Apologetics are the ones essentially "argue for Jesus" and the Bible and God, and all of those things. They hold events such as a bible study group, and bringing in special speakers, such as the laughable Frank Turek, one of the co-authors of "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist," (the title alone makes my head hurt just thinking about it).

There was recently a sort of "Meet the Clubs" event on campus, where all the clubs set up tables, and tried to convince you why you should join their club. The three biggest groups (out of a total of only a handful) where ROTC, the Apologetics, and the Forensics Team, in that order. Ironically, the Student Government itself seemed to be one of the least interesting of the groups.

I passed up the ROTC table (didn't do it in high school, see no reason to join now) and went to the Forensics' table, while somewhat nervously eyeing the Apologetics. While I did have an interest in Debate, I mostly just wanted to know what time they were meeting, and didn't have any actual questions.

The main reason I was so interested in talking to the Apologetics was because I was interested in starting a Secular/Freethinker/Atheist group, and wanted to know how they were started (aside from the god part, I imagined we would be pretty similar, with charity events, discussions on our beliefs, and hopefully bringing in important and influential speakers. Of course, or beliefs would be in science, and our speakers about talk about things which actually existed, like biology or archeology.)

The girl behind the table was one of three or maybe four sisters that I often see around campus who look almost identical. This is helped immensely by their similar garb, which looks vaguely Amish (although I've been assured it's not.) I was not planning on immediately announcing my atheism, as I was only looking for information, not a debate. However, it eventually came up, in a question of their tolerance. She had mentioned how they were a non-denominational and very diverse group, and then proceeded to list off all the different christian denominations they had, plus the claim that both a Jew and a Muslim had once shown up.
I tried to explain to her how 'non-denominational' wasn't really diverse, and all the people they'd had visit were in the least all Abrahamic, and the majority were all Christian. Unfortunately, it was too loud where we were for a proper conversation.

Eventually, she convinced me to try and go to her group's meeting the next day, to "help show them where they needed improvement." I truly liked the idea, and agreed, albeit somewhat nervously at first.

That first meeting has appeared to set a nice precedence for I should expect in the likely continuing conversations with this very interesting and mostly crafty group.

I have had two more conversations with the Apologetics since that first meeting, which I will cover in my next two posts (hopefully soon, before I forget too much) But for now, I need some sleep.

Until then, I hope everyone finds this to be an interesting premise, and sticks around to find out how it all turns out. Also, over the course of this blog, and advice on how to deal with key talking points, or even just Apologetics or Christians in general would be greatly appreciated.

Views: 2

Tags: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheists, Christians, Creationists, Debate, School

Comment by Nix Manes on September 24, 2009 at 8:05am
I wish you the best with this. You may get nothing out of it other than frustration if you are looking to change minds. You could learn a thing or two about them, but changing anyone's mind is probably not going to happen. I would go in with no expectations of anyone going "you're right!" or even "I'll think about it." (Actual thinking would be rare.)

The best way to "deal with them" is to be unemotional, polite, and be yourself. Don't get visibly upset or raise your voice. It'll only result in them doing the same, which hardens one's stance.

One of the things that they will do is try and interrogate you with questions. What I would do (at first) when this happens is simply say that you're just there to observe, learn, and introduce yourself.

Don't get sucked in to their technique of getting you to admit some minor thing that they will jump on, twist around, and manipulate in an attempt to make you uncomfortable. Many people will simply agree with them just to get them to shut up and leave you alone. This is a common interrogation technique--to annoy you or get you upset enough so that you'll admit to anything to get it to stop. Practice saying something like "thank you for your interest, but I'm just here to observe for a while."

If you go just for the experience, I think that would be best.
Comment by Prazzie on September 24, 2009 at 8:49am
Good luck with this. I think you're right about the upcoming headaches.

You mentioned Turek, so I'd like to recommend Evangelical Realism. The writer has been reviewing I don't have enough faith to be an atheist for ages now, but apart from that, there are some other arguments and answers you might want to add to your arsenal.

Don't have any expectations and wear flame-retardant clothing.
Comment by Dave G on September 24, 2009 at 11:20am
Good luck with your subsequent conversations. I look forward to reading the followup reports.
Comment by Reggie on September 24, 2009 at 8:30pm
I agree with everything NixManes said but I would add one thing. Ask questions. In fact, the best way to avoid those interrogations is to answer their questions quickly and IMMEDIATELY follow with a question. It's a sales technique used for controlling the conversation. Let them dictate your questions (i.e. follow the subjects they bring up with relevant questions) and they will be pleased at your interest and you will learn more about them.

Good luck and I look forward to reading more!

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