How Not To Talk to Atheists

The Daily Telegraph has an alarming story about wildlife documentary maker, David Attenborough.

Sir David Attenborough receives hate mail from viewers because he does not credit God in his nature programmes, he has disclosed.
The BBC television presenter and conservationist said he expected to be sent more such letters when his latest project, a documentary about Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, is broadcast on Sunday.

“They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance,” Sir David said, explaining that he is regularly asked why he does not “give credit” to the Lord for creating the flora and fauna featured in his programmes.

Of course it is appropriate to challenge people like Sir David on his views; but since when did sending hate letters and saying that it would be good riddance if someone burned in hell form part of Christian witness? I don’t suppose that these sorts of letters to anything to make Jesus Christ more attractive to the recipient.

Mind you, being polite is not enough either. Sir David also receives some rather naive letters which are unlikely to convince him of the rightness of the Christian case:

“They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in East Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”

If we are to be good witnesses to our Lord we must avoid the temptation to give simplistic statements and answers. It’s no good talking about the beauty of creation if we fail to do justice to the ugliness of the fall. But above everything else, our attitudes must reflect the grace and love of Christ Jesus. Hate letters from Christians? There is something seriously wrong here.

By the way; our family knows all about worms in eyeballs: Sue suffered from this back in late 1989 when we first lived in West Africa. It’s not fun, but the ressurection of Jesus provides us with hope of a new and better world.

Read the full Telegraph article here.

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4 replies on “How Not To Talk to Atheists”

Yeah, Christians are losers. Unfortunately we think we aren’t. I would be totally happy to disown the kind of people that write letters like this. However rather anoyingly Jesus told me that I was their brother too. It’s easy to understand why Jesus chose to spend time with the “sinners” rather than the “righteous”. Much more pleasent.

I apologise if I came across as thinking Christians are losers. Far from it. Though, sadly, we sometimes project ourselves as such. The thing is, Chris, it’s not just our brothers and sisters that we are called to love, but we are also called to love our enemies. I take that to mean that we shouldn’t send hate mail to people who say things we don’t like.

Hi Eddie. I don’t think I came across clearly. It’s me that thinks Christians are losers, especially when they send hate mail to people. So, in my loving brothers and sisters line I meant that I have to love the people sending such letters. So, I totally agree with you. I’d rather spend an evening with the “sinner” David Attenborough rather than the “righteous” hate letter writers.

Is that any clearer?

Thanks for the clarification Chris. I’m with you on this one. Interesting, the automatic Amazon advert at the side of the page is offering David Attenborough DVDs at the moment.

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