To summarise it:
- 'Evidence' (e.g. logic, 'science', textual criticism) plays a relatively minor role in 'conversion to unbelief / atheism'
- Instead, the deciding factor seems to be that the narrative 'unbelief' offers is one of honesty, problem-solving, maturity in the face of our complex reality - more so than the person's previous / alternative 'belief' system.
- 'Evidence' is then offered as a supporting factor which integrates well with the preferred narrative.
- This implies that the church's mission attempts should not be primarily focused on 'evidence', even if we think we have lots which integrates well with our preferred narrative. This will only alienate people who are preconditioned (by their preferred narrative) to reject these 'evidences' in favour of their own.
- Instead, the church should seek to provide an alternative attractive narrative - one which is MORE honest, mature, and pro-active in the face of our complex reality, than the person's previous experience of 'belief'.
- The best initial step in evangelism, then, is to spend life with people, come alongside them, invite them to church. The goal is to help them grasp a narrative that can handle their complex reality in a way which is mature.
Some thoughts of my own - If we fail to provide a narrative which is attractive, there are several possibilities:
- Christianity is not real, and hence can't handle reality. If Christianity is real, an alternative MORE mature narrative must be possible.
- WE probably need to adjust our understanding of the Christian narrative, so that it becomes mature enough to handle the other person's complex realities. This requires humility, a Christian value strangely lacking in many evangelical strategies.
- Of course there are other things (besides 'maturity') which make narratives attractive. Some may be able to be superseded by Christ's narrative, but others may be fundamentally opposed to it. We can't provide a narrative which is exclusively attractive on all fronts, or exclusively supported by all the evidence. Whatever the case, our aim is the same - to provide a narrative which is SUPERIORLY attractive, and which is supported by evidence.
What do you guys think? Especially keen to hear from the atheists out there :)