Free Thought Exchange brings atheists to church for dialogue

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Jason Testerman is a pastor’s kid. He grew up in church. His wife is a Christian. He worked as a missionary in India.

But when people started asking him difficult questions about God and the Bible, he started struggling — there were some questions he couldn’t fully answer.

“I won’t say I felt guilty,” he said. “But I felt like I wasn’t giving sufficient answers.”

Soon, he just couldn’t handle it anymore.

“It was a rapid ascent — I won’t say decline — to my atheism from that point on.”

Now, he’s on a different mission: Get atheists into church. But it’s not what you might think.

Testerman is the founder of Free Thought Exchange, a Denver-based organization created within the past two years to foster dialogue and understanding between Christians and atheists.

Written By: Kellie Moore
continue to source article at religionnews.com

16 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #2 by rod-the-farmer:

      I can see there is some value of helping convince believers that atheists stopped eating babies some time ago. Even if none of the believers lose some of their other beliefs.

      Yes, I stopped many, many years ago. They never tasted that good anyway.

    • In reply to #3 by obzen:

      Pointless. Is this something we need, or theists need.

      Yes, talking to people who disagree with us is obviously not something we need. The fact that they disagree with us is proof that they are irrational and evil. That is exactly the kind of attitude that I think results from the philosophy expressed in this article About Thinking and that I think is the diametric opposite of what people who truly believe in critical thinking would embrace.

      • In reply to #4 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #3 by obzen:

        Pointless. Is this something we need, or theists need.

        Yes, talking to people who disagree with us is obviously not something we need. The fact that they disagree with us is proof that they are irrational and evil. That is exactly the kind of attitude that I think results…

        I just can’t see a rational exchange of ideas taking place. I can see an emotional standoff eventuating, where the participants become even more entrenched in their respective positions.

        • In reply to #5 by Nitya:

          I just can’t see a rational exchange of ideas taking place. I can see an emotional standoff eventuating, where the participants become even more entrenched in their respective positions.

          That is exactly what I mean by taking a moralistic as opposed to a rational approach. You are taking a moral emotional approach. You assume anyone that disagrees with you is by definition irrational. Clearly that isn’t the case. Even Dawkins says that plenty of Christians are good and brilliant people and I know many Christians who are quite capable of rational discussion and a few that I have interesting debates about religion with.

          • In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #5 by Nitya:

            I just can’t see a rational exchange of ideas taking place. I can see an emotional standoff eventuating, where the participants become even more entrenched in their respective positions.

            That is exactly what I mean by taking a moralistic as opposed to a rational approach….

            I don’t know many. The conversation may begin in a way that is respectful of individual ways of seeing, but an emotional element almost always manages to insinuate itself into the discussion. I’ve seen this happen repeatedly, even between distinguished debaters. It takes a cool head not to become emotionally involved when your point of view is challenged.

            Perhaps I could make an exception with The Malcontent’s Gambit. I enjoy listening to these podcasts precisely because he has such a cool head, and respectful approach. These podcasts are more of a discussion than a debate, however.

          • In reply to #6 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #5 by Nitya:

            Even Dawkins says that plenty of Christians are good and brilliant people and I know many Christians who are quite capable of rational discussion and a few that I have interesting debates about religion with.

            I have yet to see or meet any Christian who is capable of rational discussion. Even their most basic belief is far from rational. “good and brilliant” does obviously not refer to their rationality or their understanding of logic. Their brains are actually flawed due to their indoctrination, whether self-inflicted or caused by 3rd parties.

            Any person on this planet who believes that a supernatural being implanted his sperm into an unwitting 14 year old virgin living among donkey nomads so that the child could grow up as a human god and sacrifice himself because the whole human race were filthy rags/sinners that needed “saving” so they could eventually end up in heaven when they died after a lifetime of singing silly songs, bowing and scraping to “something” out there somewhere does not deserve my respect. Sorry, but they just don’t!

    • In reply to #10 by Stevehill:

      What is the point of this initiative? “We don’t believe in God”. “Well we do”. “Oh”. “Tea?”. “OK”.

      Isn’t it the same as in any public debate or discussion: people provide their own perspectives, clear up a few misconceptions, and let others come to their own conclusions? If you can’t persuade them, you can at least educate them.

    • In reply to #10 by Stevehill:

      What is the point of this initiative? “We don’t believe in God”. “Well we do”. “Oh”. “Tea?”. “OK”.

      In the US atheists are seen as more evil than those sodomite people. Managing this attitude is exactly what this is about, I think.

      “I feel like atheism is very much misunderstood in our society and culture,” Testerman said­. “My goal is to help destroy those stereotypes.”

      Rod had it.

      • In reply to #13 by phil rimmer:

        In the US atheists are seen as more evil than those sodomite people. Managing this attitude is exactly what this is about, I think.

        I am somehow reminded of the Biblical parable about the seeds that fell on stony ground.

        I applaud the sentiments, but the effort involved for the likely return (around zero) seems unjustified. I would do something more useful with my life.

  1. Many Christians, when asked difficult questions, resort to statements like, ‘god’s ways are not our ways’, or ‘someday all will be explained, or ‘now we see through a glass darkly’ etc. In other words, we don’t know but won’t admit it.

    Jason Testerman, however, did not know but wanted to and this led to his atheism.
    Maybe this will happen when atheists and christians meet and maybe it won’t ,at least not for a very long time.Still,no harm done and dialogue is valuable.Time and constant interaction and christians will at some point notice that we don’t have horns, cloven hooves and tails…

  2. In reply to #15 by Stevehill:

    In reply to #13 by phil rimmer:

    the effort involved for the likely return (around zero) seems unjustified.

    I guess. But its easy for us to say. We don’t live in the middle of some kind of Zombie movie….

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