Preaching to the Choir (1997)
Review of E. Calvin Beisner, Answers for Atheists, Agnostics, and Other Thoughtful Skeptics : Dialogs About Christian Faith and Life (Crossway, 1993, ISBN 0891077006), 191 pp, $12.99 paper
By its own admission, “Answers for Atheists” was originally written with a specific audience in mind: those Christians who would travel as missionaries to former Soviet Union countries, and who needed philosophical ammunition with which to convince their citizens to give up atheism and convert to Christianity. Most of these people were, of course, raised as atheists as a matter of state policy, and not well-researched, deeply held personal philosophy.
Unfortunately, the arguments the book raises have all been answered and soundly refuted by well-educated atheists for many years. Only someone who took its arguments at face value and did not think about them or research the well-documented refutations would end up convinced.
Fortunately for the author of “Answers for Atheists,” he chose to structure the book as a series of dialogs between two fictional friends: a Christian and a credulous, uneducated atheist. Although reluctant to believe at first, the atheist’s responses to the Christian’s arguments are weak and ineffective, and at each turn he simply caves in. While reading this book, I found myself repeatedly saying, “Wait! But what about…?” Is it any surprise that by the end of the book the Christian has managed to convert his fictional friend?
“Answers for Atheists” is preaching to the choir, plain and simple. By posing only “first level” arguments and weak refutations, it ultimately insults the intelligence of its readers, Christians and atheists alike.