A Theist among the Atheists

Dominican Foundation, Robert Barron

Last week, another friar and I participated in a panel-discussion on religion and secularism at George Mason University. The event was sponsored and organized by the local chapter of the Secular Student Alliance. The panel consisted of three Christians—two Dominicans and a Protestant—two representatives of the Bahá’í tradition, and two atheist-secularists.

During his presentation, one of the atheists was bold enough (and sincere enough) to put up his contact information, in case anyone should like to present him with evidence for the existence of God. Of course, I took his info down. The discussion itself was only so long, and we Christians only so competent witnesses. And I myself am the beneficiary of so many wise and inspiring teachers and authors—real conduits of God—whose work I am always excited to pass on to anyone interested.

The question then arises, what to recommend? This particular fellow, judging by his argumentation, is a devotee of the “New Atheists”: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, et al. The obvious choice, therefore, is the number of books recently written in response: e.g., Ed Feser’s The Last Superstition, David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions, and Thomas Crean’s God is No Delusion. Perhaps, too, he might benefit from more generic polemicists, like Peter Kreeft, C. S. Lewis, or G. K. Chesterton. He might also enjoy an engaging hour-long interview with a member of the clergy on a wide variety of topics. In which case, the recent interview with Bishop Robert Barron (part 2) on Dave Rubin’s popular internet program, the Rubin Report, would do nicely.

Barron is well known for his excellent documentary series Catholicism and also his short video-commentaries on theology, current events, and (pop-)culture. The interview with Rubin conveys a lively Catholic mind, devoted to God, zealous for the Church and for souls, and interested in everything. Surely, Barron is one of the most accessible, knowledgeable, and engaging spokesmen for the Catholic Church today. And he interests the atheists. Brandon Vogt, Barron’s colleague at Word on Fire ministry, has written a short piece giving the backstory to the interview and also collecting a large number of positive responses to the bishop’s words from non-religious people. For example, “Slasher Chick” said, “I’m an atheist but I could listen to this guy for hours. He has great energy and you can see that his heart is filled with love.” “Obo299” said, “Dave Rubin got me to listen to a priest for the first time in years.” And Nick Nash commented, “I believe. This episode was incredible.”

Whatever my atheist interlocutor’s particular concerns, it’s likely that he’d benefit from an encounter with Bishop Barron. His is a rare combination of warmth, intelligence, and devotion. May God continue to prosper his work.

Image by Dominican Foundation

You May Also Enjoy:

The Love of God? A couple weeks ago, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece entitled “What Religion Would Jesus Belong To?” The title, I suppose, is meant to be ironic—the suggestion being that Jesus, a great spiritual leader, should be able to see beyond religious differences to an alleged essential core—something Kristoff calls “a loving way of life.” For Kristof, doctrine and ritual mostly get in the way of what is really important about relig...
Love’s Hatred Some Christians have misgivings about the slogan “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” For them, the slogan seems “judgmental” and, therefore, fundamentally unchristian. I can understand a certain amount of suspicion. We don’t want to turn into fault-finders or to excuse ourselves from dealing with our own faults. But the ideas that the slogan expresses are basically sound, even rather important. And we wouldn’t want to throw out the baby with the bat...
His Eucharistic Heart A little over a month ago, the bishop of Legnica, Poland, announced that the relics of an apparent Eucharistic miracle would be made available in his diocese for the adoration of the faithful. The episcopal approval comes at a propitious time, when Poland is set to host World Youth Day in Krakow, July 25-31. The episode, reported by numerous Catholic outlets (e.g., here, here), began on Christmas day 2013. During the liturgy a consecrated host...
Newman on Vatican II This December 8th will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The Council treated a wide range of themes, many of which were anticipated by the nineteenth-century convert to Catholicism, Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman. Recently, Newman’s preeminent biographer, Fr. Ian Ker, has written a short book on how Newman would have understood the Council: Newman on Vatican II. Here are three areas, drawn from Ke...
Br. Alan Piper, O.P.

Written by:

Br. Alan Piper, OP, was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is the oldest of four children. He earned a BA in philosophy and theology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and a PhL from the School of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. Before entering the order in 2011, he taught at Holy Family Academy in Manchester, New Hampshire. On DominicanFriars.org