Post #100

Using fiction to explore Christianity and atheismWelcome to post #100!  It’s time to see how far this blog has come since I started last August.

Many of you know that this is actually two blogs.  Galileo Unchained (“For Those Who Have No Use for Faith”) is the doorway aimed at atheists, and Cross Examined (“Clear Thinking About Christianity”) is aimed at Christians.  The content is the same, so hang out wherever you feel more comfortable.

In December, I launched my novel, Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey.  My goal with both the book and this blog is primarily to encourage Christians to think.  Whether they become atheists or stronger Christians isn’t the issue but rather that they think about the intellectual foundations that support their faith.  Too commonly, in my opinion, Christians act out their faith on autopilot, not thinking much about what they claim is life’s most important issue.

And, of course, I hope to have provocative content for atheists as well, both in this blog in the book.

If you haven’t poked around in the toolbar, that’s been gradually updated, with a page listing all the posts, a glossary (with each of the Words of the Day), and a summary of the book with the first couple of chapters.

Here are some of the stats for the blogs:

Alexa ranks web sites by global popularity, and a smaller number is better.  It says that 0.00034% of global Internet users visit CrossExaminedBlog.com.  (Woo hoo—look out, PZ Myers!)

There’s no easy way to figure out word count, but all the posts add up to roughly 50,000 words.

So what’s next?  I’m thinking about podcasting the blogs.  That is, the same content, just spoken.  I hope that will provide a new audience.  I’m also thinking about consolidating the blogs, which would mean focusing on Cross Examined and no longer updating or creating links to Galileo Unchained.  (Your thoughts on these changes?)

Here’s where I need your help.

  • Who do you think would find the book useful?  Do you know of any thoughtful Christians comfortable enough in their beliefs who would be interested in exploring the foundations of Christianity?  Please pass on a link.  I’m also looking for blurbs (brief recommendations), so let me know of anyone with interesting credentials—a pastor or professor, perhaps—who might share my goal of encouraging Christians to think and who would like a free review copy.
  • Who would find the blog interesting?  Please recommend it to anyone you think would appreciate plain talk on Christianity.
  • What recommendations do you have for the blog?  Any changes in format?  Topics ideas?  Add your thoughts to the comments below or email me.

Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you find this a worthwhile destination on the internet!

Bob Seidensticker

Photo credit: kslavin

What to Get the Atheists on Your Christmas List

Book cover for "Cross Examined" by Bob SeidenstickerThe toughest people on your Christmas list—it’s always the atheists, right?

You can give a Jesus Dressup refrigerator magnet.  Or a Darwin Fish car sticker.  Or a Buddy Christ dashboard statue.  But let me suggest something that’s a little more intellectual.

My new book, Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey is now available at Amazon.  I wrote my first notes about this project over eight years ago, so I’m pretty excited to finally be able to share it with you.

While many books defend the atheist position, this book takes a fictional approach to tough counter-apologetics arguments.  Indeed, the intellectual debate nearly becomes another character within the story.

The book targets two audiences.  First, I want to give thoughtful Christians something to think about and to encourage complacent Christians to critique the foundations of their religion.  Many Christian leaders make exactly this point, that they too want to push Christians to think.  I think of the book as an intellectual workout—a taxing project, perhaps, but one that leaves the reader a stronger person.

Second, I want to reach atheists who might enjoy approaching these intellectual arguments in fiction rather than in the usual nonfiction form.

The book is set in Los Angeles in 1906, in an odd new church that is suddenly world famous.  The pastor’s prediction of imminent disaster had been front-page news the day before the great San Francisco earthquake—true story.  Here’s the back-cover summary:

In 1906, three men share a destiny forged by a prophecy of destruction.  That prophecy comes true with staggering force with the San Francisco earthquake and fire, and young assistant pastor Paul Winston is cast into spiritual darkness when his fiancée is among the dead.  Soon Paul finds himself torn between two powerful mentors: the charismatic pastor who rescued him from the street and an eccentric atheist who gradually undercuts Christianity’s intellectual foundation.

As he grapples with the shock to love and faith, Paul’s past haunts him.  He struggles to retain his faith, the redemptive lifesaver that keeps him afloat in a sea of guilt.  But the belief that once saved him now threatens to destroy the man he is becoming.

Paul discovers that redemption comes in many forms.  A miracle of life.  A fall from grace.  A friend resurrected.  A secret discovered.  And maybe, a new path taken.  He realizes that religion is too important to let someone else decide it for him.  The choice in the end is his—will it be one he can live with?

Cross Examined challenges the popular intellectual arguments for Christianity and invites the reader to shore them up … or discard them. Take the journey and see where it leads you.

Buy copies for those hard-to-buy-for friends who would enjoy a different approach to the Christian/atheist debate.  It’s guaranteed to be far more intellectually stimulating than a refrigerator magnet or a Buddy Christ dashboard statue (and less cliché than frankincense or myrrh).  Thanks!

Bob Seidensticker

Word of the Day: Apologetics

Dictionary or Bible, we can ask: Does God exist?Apologetics is the discipline of defending a position using reason.  The word is so tied to the defense of Christianity that “Christian apologetics” is almost redundant.  An apologetic is a specific argument (the Design Argument or Pascal’s Wager, for example).

Though “apologetics” has its origin in common with the word “apology,” the apologist does not apologize.  The original Greek work apologia meant to make a spoken defense, such as you’d give if you were the defendant in court.

A Christian could argue for Christianity in an emotional way, but that wouldn’t be apologetics.  These nonapologetic claims might be “Christianity makes me feel good” or “I just like the worldview” or “You’ll love the community.”

Counter-apologetics uses reason to rebut specific Christian apologetic arguments.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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