16 November 2011

I'm a little bothered by this

A few years ago, at the encouragement of my (devout Christian) older brother, I contacted the pastor of my parents' church just to see if he'd be interested in chatting. He replied that he would love to meet with me, and we eventually met and talked for about an hour and a half. At the end, he loaned me two books – one by Frank Tipler, a physicist, called The Physics of Christianity, which turned out to be one of the most loony books I've ever read. The other was a much more reasonable accomodationist tome by John Polkinghorne called The Faith of a Physicist. I originally tried to take notes on things I found questionable, but filled up pages so fast I had to stop.

John Polkinghorne
Anyway, some time later I contacted the pastor about meeting again. I wanted to talk about the books and about some of the issue we'd covered in our previous conversation. At the time, he had some medical issues, so I simply left a message. After he got through that, I contacted him again, through his secretary. After some time passed with no response from him (his secretary did reply), I contacted him yet a third time. No dice. I gave the book to my parents, and told them to pass the message on that I wanted to meet with him again. They returned the books to him, but he never contacted me.

Some time later, he added me on Facebook. We didn't correspond directly that often, but did exchange both friendly comments and butt heads on a few issues – though never uncivilly. I recently realized I hadn't heard anything from him in a while, so I typed his name in the Facebook search bar, went to his page and discovered he had unfriended me.

So, fine whatever, I'm not losing any sleep. But I don't get it. Christian doctrine holds that the fate of my eternal soul rests in my faith, or lack thereof. Why would he not even want to talk? And why on earth would he decide to cut me from his 600-plus friends roster? Obviously, as a non-believer, I occasionally say things that ruffle the feathers of believers. But goddammit, it's important to exchange ideas. It's especially disappointing because he's one of the few truly educated pastors to whom I had access.

A while back, my brother went to a dinner hosted by Francis Collins. It was a small affair with a round-table discussion, and he said he really wished I could have been there, for two reasons: one, because it would have given me the chance to directly converse with educated believers, and two, because my perspective would have been a welcome (to him, at least) counterpoint to what was an exclusively theistic audience. I lamented that, while I enjoy blogging, I find it quite frustrating that it's so difficult to find believers with whom I can engage in actual conversation.

And one of the few I had found decided that he didn't want to meet with me or even read what I had to say on Facebook. I'm a little disappointed, but I'm also simply bothered by the fact that someone educated is closed off to engaging opposing perspectives. If you were passionate about the truth, wouldn't you be interested in opinions that differ from your own? Otherwise, you're simply trapped in a self-deceiving bubble designed to protect yourself from the possibility that you could actually be wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.