One thing I have come to immensely appreciate about formal graduate education is the high volume of “counterpoint” reading I am required to do. What I mean is, I have to read many articles and full-length books by prominent thinkers that I completely disagree with. As an apologist-in-training, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you’d better know your opponent’s argument AT LEAST as well as you know your own! I can say with sincerity that I have an enormously improved understanding of several major apologetics issues after a thorough reading of works from non-Christian authors (some rather hostile towards the faith) such as Bart Ehrman, Tom Harpur, Charles Darwin, Michael Ruse, and Peter Bowler.
Unfortunately, many folks tend to read (and carefully study) only what they like and agree with, and then attempt to defend their points of view based on what they know about the opposing argument from second-hand sources. Bad idea. I continually encounter atheists and agnostics of this type, and when I try to point out to them that they are arguing against a distorted version of my actual viewpoint (remember our lesson on the Straw Man?), they simply evade my questions and comments, usually by making disparaging remarks about my faith or about me as a person. This frustrates me because it’s truly a waste of time trying to have productive communication with someone who isn’t even listening to the clarification you’re trying to gracefully offer.
For my Darwin, Evolution, and Intelligent Design course I’m nearly finished reading Ruse’s Darwin and Design. Ruse is an agnostic Darwinian evolutionist that you’ve encountered before if you’ve seen the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Here’s a fun little refresher video:
Anyway, one thing that regularly becomes glaringly obvious about folks like Ruse is that they either don’t fully grasp the opposing argument or they don’t want to grasp it. Today I watched an EXCELLENT video debate between Michael Ruse (agnostic and ardent Darwinian evolutionist) and Stephen Meyer (leading figure in the Intelligent Design movement). Both Ruse and Meyer have distinguished credentials from top universities. I would love for you to view this debate, paying careful attention to the dialogue. I think you’ll see exactly what I mean about this phenomenon. (Note: you only have to watch the first 25 minutes.)