How can there be a God when people are suffering through floods and fires? How can God sit back and allow bad things to happen to good people? A new online resource from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne offers answers to these and other difficult questions as the Church seeks to engage directly with the rising “New Atheism” phenomenon.
"It's not surprising that Christians will be asked hard questions like these as we watch the devastation of the Queensland floods," said Bishop Barbara Darling, chair of the Christianity and Atheism Committee for the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. "We should not be afraid of such questions, but should welcome the opportunity to talk with those who ask them".
The committee seeks not to criticise the existence of such a movement, but to engage with the propositions put forward by people such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. It will do so via its new website, at www.melbourne.anglican.com.au/atheism, where members of the public are encouraged to submit their own questions for the committee to consider, and through a free downloadable brochure designed to assist Christians in answering the tricky questions. The site also features summaries of over fifty books covering a wide range of perspectives on atheism.
Prominent scientist Professor John Pilbrow, also on the committee, says that rather than lamenting the rise of “New Atheism” personalities, “We can welcome this as a wake-up call to be better prepared to engage in debate and conversation with them.”
"Our conversation with atheists should always be conducted with courtesy, recognizing that we are all men and women in the image of God. We need to listen with grace, humility and love and to respond to with the best arguments we can muster.”
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