Leveling the playing field

In response to the criticism that I’m picking on the atheists without picking on the literalists enough, I want to make it clear that there are plenty of people calling out the televangelists.

For starters, Michael Zimmerman of the Clergy Letter Project (Latest post here) is a tireless fighter against creationism. For a scholarly but readable approach to the interplay of evolution and Christianity, nobody beats John Haught’s God After Darwin. For similar ideas pitched a little more to the “average churchgoer”, Kenneth Miller’s Finding Darwin’s God is excellent.

For evangelicals who are teetering on the edge of literalism, James Barr’s Beyond Fundamentalism is a great little book; so is John A.T. Robinson’s Honest to God. For those who are a bit more radical, John Shelby Spong’s work is very accessible. A really lapidary short essay on literalism is Conrad Hyers’ Constricting the Cosmic Dance. To go into much more depth in a very short book, I found Hartshorne’s Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes to be very thought-provoking.

Now, none of these are making a case for atheism; they’re taking on the various problems of literalism, and doing so honestly, claiming only what they are actually achieving in their arguments. When it comes to atheism (or at least a refutation of Christianity), it’s hard to surpass Bertrand Russell’s Why I am Not a Christian. He shows that you can be straightforward and still take the opponents’ arguments seriously.

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