Jeremy Paxman is an English broadcaster who is regarded as something of a bulldog, a British bulldog if you like. You can watch the famous BBC clip of him locking-jaws with former British Home Secretary, Michael Howard. Determined to get a straight answer to a straight question he makes the same point over a dozen times, and his perserverance raises a smile – and earns your respect. (https://youtu.be/Uwlsd8RAoqI)
Fast-forward to his BBC interview with Richard Dawkins, talking about his book The Magic of Reality, and you would expect another rabid engagement. Watch the clip – and you’ll be disappointed. Surprisingly, Paxman chooses to roll over and act like a playful puppy. (https://youtu.be/3t5y0bdpA_c).
Why the soothing tones? Why the stroking of the ego?
The answer: Dawkins and Paxman look at the world the same way. When you bring two people together who share the same worldview, asking them to talk about things that really matter, don’t expect the fur to fly. Instead expect one of them to roll over. It’s hard to ask tough questions when the answers may threaten your life and how you live it. Worldviews run deep, which is why we often bleed when others criticize them.
The media regulary asks tough questions about Christianity – questions we ought to be prepared to answer. However, when people like Dawkins or Paxman point a mocking finger at a biblical outlook on life, we need to remind them about the four fingers pointing in the other direction. Removing God from the equation doesn’t solve the problem. It creates more chaos and confusion. For example, a godless outlook on life leaves no basis for rationality, morality, meaning, value, purpose or hope in life.
CS Lewis wrote an essay titled, “God in the Dock,” and every Christian needs to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have. Yet, we can ask questions as well as answer them. When someone puts you on the spot, be ready with the retort: “Thank you. I’d like to share how my Christian belief helps me deal with that, but based on how you see the world - how do you deal with the same question?”
Atheists like to throw stones despite the fact they live in glass houses. The interview I’m really waiting for is Paxman on Paxman, Dawkins on Dawkins, or perhaps my favourite would be Ricky Gervais on Ricky Gervais. It would be terrific to hear these people asking the tough questions, trying to defend their own godless worldview. That’s not going to happen, nor should it, because the Bible says it’s not their job. It’s ours.
So, remember this: the atheist’s bark is typically worse than his bite, and you are not responsible to make anyone believe anything. Just share the truth with love, gentleness and respect, and whatever happens – even if someone walks away - the Bible says you haven’t failed. You’ve been faithful.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
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