Atheists and believers can get along: Here’s Exhibit A

November 10, 2008 | By | 18 Replies More

I’m not claiming that non-believers and believers always get along, but I do know that they can get along.  I know this for many reasons.  Here’s my newest evidence:  Last night I spoke about my lack of religious beliefs from the front of a packed church, during the religious service.

How this could possibly be true?  Here’s a bit of background. I previously wrote about a church in my neighborhood called The Journey.  (here’s the website of The Journey).

After I wrote that post, Darrin Patrick, Pastor of The Journey, posted a comment at DI inviting me join him for lunch.  We’ve had two lunches now, and we’ve traded quite a few e-mails and phone calls. I now considered Darrin to be a friend.  We have many interests in common.  He’s also an intelligent, curious, sensitive church leader who is an exquisite reader of people and who has an undying commitment to funnel the energy of his congregation toward improving his community. Like most friends, Darrin and I have differences of opinion on topics we consider to be important. Like all friends of mine, however, we both realize that we have far more in common than those things on which we disagree.

About two months ago, Darrin asked whether he could interview me on videotape and then play portions of my interview for his congregation. I agreed and I sat for an interview of almost an hour, talking about Dangerous Intersection, my family, my concerns about my community, my beliefs and my opinions regarding religion.  Darren has already played portions of my interview (and the interviews of other skeptics) during church services to illustrate various types of skepticism and to promote a willingness to interact with skeptics. The Journey has also sponsored several Tuesday night discussion groups at which members of the church further consider the role of skepticism in the lives of members of the church.

A few days ago, Darrin called to ask whether I would appear live at one of the church services. I readily agreed. Last night, after 15 minutes of music, we walked together to the front of the church, where we sat down on stools and talk about my thoughts on religious belief. Again, this extended discussion was included as part of a church service. I would estimate that there were several hundred people in attendance.

I started off by speaking of my admiration for Darrin.  I noted how extraordinary it was that a church leader would invite one who does not believe in God to sit at the front of the church to talk to the congregation about his lack of belief in something they hold dear. I didn’t pull any punches.  I told the congregation that, in my opinion, the God of Christianity was no more likely to exist than Zeus.  It was an awkward thing to hear in a church, I’m sure, even though all people have had doubts along the way (yes, you too!).

As part of my introduction, I mentioned that I sometimes go to empty churches to meditate and write.  I covered that topic here, in a post called “How to love going to church: a guide for atheists. Sometimes I go to live church services, to see what they are like.  That is how I learned of The Journey.

Much of my talk focused on the many things all of us have in common.

I spoke of the continuum of belief that ties us all together. In my view, all believers have doubts that they can’t resolve and all skeptics have beliefs that they cannot ultimately justify (at least they can’t justify them through rigorous scientific forms of proof). I periodically write about of these unproven beliefs of nonbelievers.  For example, one of the annual questions of, asked participants to discuss things they believe what they cannot prove to be true. My favorite example of this sort of believe is free will, to which many die-hard non-believers cling despite the total lack of evidence supporting it (despite that “feeling” that we are “free.”).  Though I didn’t have time to mention it in church, I would have liked to mention recent research regarding such feelings of certainty.  This research strongly backs up our common sense that being “certain” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with being right.

All of us grapple with meaning.  Even though we intellectually articulate this grappling differently, all honest people experience awe, humility, and an inability to fully come to grips with our own existence on planet Earth.

I urged the people in the congregation that they not lump together all nonbelievers. There are many types of nonbelievers.  We are not all as harsh toward religious moderates as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.  It is equally important that non-believers don’t lump together all believers.  Not all believers are right-wing fundamentalists.  Most believers and non-believers have many things in common, and relatively few things that divide us. We live in communities full of serious challenges and we desperately need to work together. Furthermore, we can work together, as long as fundamentalists aren’t running around vilifying nonbelievers–telling them that they’re all going to hell; and as long as shrill nonbelievers aren’t running around making sport of calling kind, decent and sincere religious people “stupid.”

I wish I had enough time to tell the congregation about a highly literate atheist who posted a DI comment indicating that he wouldn’t have been willing to march with MLK in the 60’s because King believed in God and based his mission on his religious beliefs while the atheist didn’t share those beliefs.  It truly made me sad to read this comment.

Darrin Patrick, Pastor of The Journey, with Erich Vieth

Believers and non-believers have so many things in common!  The list goes on and on, as described in this post on the extraordinary sameness of humans. Here’s a tiny sampling:  We can drink beer together.  We can contribute to flood victims together. We can throw muggers in jail together. We can celebrate the beauty of parks together. We can make sure our children learn to appreciate Shakespeare, mathematics and history together at school.   As I’ve already said, the list goes on and on.

In the quiet of their bedrooms, all skeptics wonder about life’s meaning and their proper role in the world. In the quiet of their bedrooms at night, all believers do the same. We differ in that believers make use of traditional religious stories to illustrate and attempt to comprehend life’s mysteries. Recalcitrant skeptics (I am one of them) are more cautious about claiming knowledge in the lack of scientific knowledge. As a result, many skeptics are proficient at uttering a phrase that is most unsatisfying to many believers: “I don’t know.”

We can revel both in the beauty and elegance of great scientific findings (as long as we non-believers don’t stretch them beyond the evidence).  Thoughtful believers and non-believers both know that science doesn’t have all the answers.

Many of the problems arising between believers and non-believer arises from the sloppy use of labels.  That topic came to the fore when Darrin asked me how I would describe myself.  I told him that I’m not a theist, except in the sense that Einstein was a theist. I don’t call myself an agnostic in public because most people don’t know what it means or they assume that it means that I simply need to sit down and think a little harder to make up my mind, as though the problem were that I haven’t been giving serious thought to the issue. I don’t call myself an “ignostic,” although I am sometimes tempted to do so. I don’t call myself an “atheist” because this word has been so thoroughly co-opted that to use it is essentially to call one’s self an amoral self centered egotistical person who’s proud of these qualities.    Calling myself an “atheist” gets too many people in such a mental froth that they are unable to continue the discussion.  They erect a huge wall and they lose all trust in you.  It doesn’t happen with all believers, but it happens with most of them, in my experience (the father of a woman I once dated (a philosophy professor nonetheless) cast me out of the family house, telling his Catholic daughter: “Never again allow that God-damned atheist step foot in our house.”)  I know that many atheists disagree with me and insist that atheists should use the term “atheist” and take back that word.  I don’t disagree with that approach as a long-term strategy.  Here’s my short-term approach, though.  Why end what might turn out to be a fruitful discussion when words other than “atheist” are easily available. Lately, I’ve referred to myself a “skeptic” and a “non-believer,” terms that clearly convey the necessary ideas, yet tend to keep the blood pressure of believers relatively low.  In my view, we need to be extremely careful about the labels we use when we describe our religious beliefs (or the nonreligious beliefs) of others.

There is a similar problem in the context of “race.” Not long ago, many people incorrectly believed that racial essentialism was justified. They thought that color of skin served well as a token for various characteristics relating to a person’s intellect, character and culture. Now that Barack Obama has helped shatter many of those stereotypes in an extraordinarily public way, it is clear that a person’s “race” has almost nothing to do with the content of a person’s character.  Similarly, I would hope that someday soon, we will all understand that a person’s “religion” will no longer be used as a form of essentialism. Calling a person “religious” has, for too long, served as a crude and oftentimes false token to designate that person to be moral and upstanding and heaven bound. There are thousands of types of religious people out there and they run the gamut. Many of them are deserve to be in prison, many others are world-class scientists, and most of them are kind and decent people. The same goes for the nonbelievers. No longer should they be scorned as a group as “damned atheists,” as though they are all immoral and untrustworthy nihilists. I know many of them, and so do you.  Most of them are deeply dedicated to their families and communities.  Overwhelmingly, they want the same things that “religious” people want.

Will we soon see a day where religious people agree that there’s no evidence for God or where nonbelievers fall to their knees in fervent prayer? Hell, no.  We all take our preferred expressions of the ineffable seriously and we cling to those narratives in exquisitely personal ways.  Will there come a day, however, when people of all types of beliefs (and all types of lack of beliefs) look past traditional labels and judge each other by the content of character? That is my hope and my dream.

I had an opportunity to discuss many of these things before a packed church last night.  I was honored to be a guest at the journey.

Looking back, it was a huge step for me to actually feel comfortable in a church.  Perhaps it has never before happened to me.  I am who I am, in significant part, because religion was shoved down my throat (by my father) while I was growing up.  The last several years have seen much of that pain and frustration melt away.  Considerable evidence of that melting-away can be found in my writings at this blog.   I have moved from being a person who was angry and suspicious about religion to one who now intensely wants to understand what it is that divides us.  There are many days when I think the “divide” is almost entirely the errant use of labels.  Perhaps the “problem” is merely that we give different labels to that which is attributed to God or that we confuse poetry for literal truth.  Perhaps there are often ways to translate our differences meaningfully, if only we’d show more patience.

After the church service at The Journey, I really enjoyed getting to know many of the parishioners. Many of them walked up and introduced themselves to me after the service.  They thanked me for coming.  They said that they were glad that I shared my views with them.  Some of them told me that they too experienced doubts. One of those church-going doubters was a chemist.  It was also clear that each of the people I had spoken to, each of them having taken a unique path through life, had each found a valuable spiritual home at The Journey.

That The Journey is sincere in welcoming skeptics to its services was reinforced by Darrin during his sermon (I sat among the audience to listen).  He proclaimed that “We’re a church that values dissonance.  There is such a thing as honest wrestling, and we do take these arguments to the bone.”  Darrin blended science into his sermon and he takes science seriously.  He is not shy about proclaiming that the universe is 15 billions years old.  He readily admits that “God is un-provable.”  He continued, “God makes honest inquirers of you.” He warned about “Band-aid Bible-verse Christians who offer simplistic answers to complex questions.”

Do Darrin and I completely agree regarding religion?  Absolutely not.  Although God is un-provable, Darrin strongly believes that God “doesn’t need to be proven; He needs to be discovered.”  Darrin is moved to believe in God based on such things as the anthropic principle, the transcendence of the beautiful, the strength of our experience of moral relativism and the strength of our desire for human rights. He made repeated references to a book by theologian Timothy Keller: The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.

As I listened to Darrin’s sermon, I thought of talking with Darrin someday about many of the thoughtful writers I have discussed at Dangerous Intersection, writers such as Frans De Waal (and here), George Lakoff, Mark Johnson, Robin Dunbar, Pascal Boyer, Daniel Dennett, David Sloan Wilson, Geoffrey Miller, Stuart Kauffman and Jonathan Haidt.  And yes, I find much of value (including many things of deep “spiritual” value) in the writings of new atheists, such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins.  Maybe someday Darrin and I will talk about more of these ideas.  In the meantime, I’m not trying to win a war.  I’m trying to demonstrate that we can all get along, if only we try a bit.  Part of the formula is to not try so hard so often to be “right,” the problem being that our imprecise language so often goes astray.  Instead of being “right,” we need to identify the 97% of things on which we agree and get to work to make those things a reality in our troubled world.

Here at DI, Lisa Rokusek once wrote “I am as sad as I am hopeful. We are faced with terrific challenges today. Yet we cling so tightly to the myths that separate us instead of reaching for the meanings that could unite us.”  As I said at the front of the church last night, we good-hearted and thoughtful believers and non-believers need each other badly.  There are too many ominous problems needing to be addressed, and we are, together, the best chance of getting the job done.  It’s time to take many of deep breaths and to consider that the poisonous air of the past eight years is dissipating.

Perhaps I’m sounding naïve.  Perhaps it sounds like I’m falling for a sucker play, where a savvy church uses me as a dupe, an avowed skeptic who they presented (behind my back) as a person on the verge of conversion.  After all, many church leaders are happy to talk with respect about skepticism, but only in private. I’ve personally heard this sort of rhetoric before.  I’ve heard it privately from several priests, but none of them were willing to publicly honor the value of deep skepticism.  None of those priests would dare present a live skeptic in a decent light during a church service.  I thus have proof that Darrin’s words were far more than words.  The proof is that I was allowed to sit at the front of the church and freely present my version of skepticism to hundreds of people.

Once you do it, reaching across the aisle seems so incredibly obvious and compelling, if not easy.  Something magic happened at church last night. Something so very Obama-esque, it would seem.


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Category: Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (18)

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  1. It is a turning point for all of us. Believers and non-believers don't get unconverted. We choose to forget what we were before, and too often, how to relate. Adopting a label or associating a symbol with a thing does not change it's substance. It has to die.

  2. Lee Williams says:

    Hi Erich,

    Enjoyed your visit to the Journey this past Saturday. Thank you for being so candid about your beliefs in front of complete strangers. I fully agree with you that there is much that God-believers and non-believers can share to make this a better world. So we should.


  3. Karl says:

    Thank-you for open dialog over matters of interest that are not scientifically discernable.

  4. Ben says:

    Although theists may disagree, I've never found Richard Dawkins to be anything other than logical, brilliant, well-spoken, honest, and poignant. Certainly not shrill!

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Perhaps "shrill" is the wrong word. I admire Richard Dawkins tremendously on many grounds. He is a first-rate scientist who has inspired me. The Ancestors Tale is one of my favorite books of all time.

    On the other hand, his tone and words when referring to religious beliefs surely amount to an accusation that religious believers are "stupid." Perhaps I am equally guilty when I call literal belief in virgin birth "absurd." The problem is that there are many believers out there who barely tolerate the claims of miracles themselves. They go to church for many other reasons, including the sense of community, the music, the chance to get away from their routines, the reminder to meditate.

    Speaking harshly across the board, to both troubled believers and to fundamentalists, tends (I believe) to polarize society into believers and non-believers. It causes skeptics to lose the ears of many who might otherwise be quite sympathetic to our concerns. I think harsh rhetoric actually creates fundamentalists. Consider the way Dawkins went after Ted Haggard (something which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I wonder, in retrospect, whether it gained a single convert). Here's a link:

    Not that we should determine truth by vote, but I'm not alone in my concerns about the rhetoric of Dawkins. See, for example, portions of this conference at La Jolla:

    But also consider this video, where Dawkins, while part of a group that is friendly to his ideas, is much more approachable.… If I wanted a Believer to consider the importance of deep skepticism, this is what I would rather they watch.

  6. When someone asks me I say, "A happy pagan!," and then everybody loves me. 😀 Ok, I've never done that, I'm probably too nice to do that… Or I haven't been provoked enough yet. It's in one of my profiles though. 😉

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    Who can really be too angry with anyone who says that she is "a Happy Pagan," when she says it with a big smile and lots of enthusiasm? It just doesn't seem that it should be a threat to anyone that someone honors the gods of the forests, for example, as long as that person is good-hearted.

    That is my attempted point, that each of our beliefs systems seem a bit odd to those folks who don't believe similarly. Is it possible that atheists would consider starting a recycling program while there are happy pagans on the same committee? Why not? Is it possible for happy Mormons to work with happy Christians to maintain a food pantry for the poor? Why not?

    Good-hearted people tend to get along, looking past each others' differences. That's the way it is in strong friendships. That's the way it is in marriages, where there are ALWAYS differences, sometimes huge differences. Good-hearted people look past those differences and seek commonalities.

    And so often, those "differences" amount to not much of substance, right? If you didn't know who was a Christian, or Hindu or Buddhist or Pagan (assuming that they are all "happy"), could you tell who was following what religion by tracking how they actually live their lives? How they treat others? How generous they are to others in need? How committed they are to their communities?

    For the most part, no, in my opinion. Every belief system has its slouches and saints, based on my experience.

    If there is a God, what's more important to God: the labels people use to refer to themselves or the way they actually live their lives? I would bet the latter. If I'm correct, those who tend to live the most moral lives are cross-cuts the various belief systems.

    I know that there are many fundamentalists who would disagree vigorously with this, calling everyone who doesn't agree with them "evil" or "a sinner." That's unfortunate, in my opinion.

  8. Beth says:

    I attend the Journey but, unfortunately, was not present at Saturday nights service. I so wish I could have been there but I was fortunate to hear of the evening during the Sunday morning service. I think it is wonderful that you were able to address the church and offer some light into skepticism for us "believers." I too, like so many others, have pondered the likelihood that there is this "all powerful" god out there somewhere. How can you be a rational thinking person and not question the existence of God from time to time?

    Unlike you, I always come back to my core belief in God. I cannot say what it is that always brings me back to this belief but there seems to be something at my core that brings me back to God. Perhaps it hope that there is something more powerful out there that can save us from a world of pain and hurt. Perhaps its a fear that if there is a God and I question his existence what will happen to me in the hereafter?

    Perhaps while laughing and playing with my son I realize that there must be something greater out there that can bring something so miraculous into existence. I have heard many people say that if you have experienced childbirth you cannot question the existence of God. I cannot speak for all people but for me the experience was a miraculous one that opened my eyes to what it could be like in a world with an "all powerful" God that is the creator of all things. I along with my husband created a life and watched it come into this world in such a miraculous way. I always thought that I would think the birthing experience was disgusting and painful and to an outsider it might look that way but to two people (my husband and I) who brought a living being into this world by way of our love for each other…It was Miraculous.

    Anyway, I didn't mean to get carried away there in the story of my life. My point is that I BELIEVE but I continue to have questions. Life experiences take me in both directions in my faith. There are things of this world that make me seriously question the existence of a God of grace and goodness and there are moments like the birth of my child that make me believe that there must be some greater power that is responsible for these miracles in our lives. As a rational thinking person I continue to questions all the while I continue to believe. I have had my faith tested time and time again and I am sure that I will have it tested many more times in my lifetime. I have also had my share of skeptics come my way and I respect their belief system as I hope they would do the same for me. That is not always the case. Often times I find that skeptics hold the assumption that only ignorant naive people believe in God. I had an extraordinary experience with one of my professors in college that was a non-believer. He, much like yourself, was brought up in a very religious home and became an atheist as an adult. Unlike you I do not think he would call himself a skeptic. I believe he is pretty firm in his belief that there is no God and the rest of us believers are naive for believing in the existence of a God. Don't get me wrong I admire and respect this man but he was very quick to label me naive once he found out I was a believer.

    During a Psychology of Religion class we were discussing several things regarding religion and belief in God or a God and it came up that I was a Christian and he said he was very surprised and disappointed to hear that I could believe in the existence of a God. I was mortified by his statement. It was as though he could not longer see me as an intellectual equal because I believe in the existence of a God that he thought no rational thinking person could possibly believe in. Now don't get me wrong, this man is a brilliant man and a great humanitarian. He is one of the kindest and most forward thinking people I know but at that moment he could not except that someone that he had felt was a very rational and intellectual thinker could possibly have faith in a God that he had lost faith in many years ago. He had found evidence in science that led him to his disbelief in a higher power and I had found evidence in science that led to my belief in God (much like Pastor Darrin) but he could not accept that two people who study the same discipline and hold similar world views could possibly be so different in their thinking. Our belief systems did not come into question again and we were able to continue the remainder of the semester with the same discussion/debates regarding the subject matter. I have kept in touch with him over the years and I still consult him occasionally but I have never felt that he sees me in the same light as he once did.

    It is unfortunate when believers and non-believers cannot have open discussion without fear of how the other may judge them. Believers often times make assumptions that all non-believers are harsh, critical and immoral while non-believers label believers as irrational, less intelligent and naive. These labels limit us from having extraordinary relationships with people that in many ways are much like ourselves in that we all are trying to define what it is to be human in a world that we may not ever fully understand. Seeing you and Darrin share the relationship the two of you share, I am hopeful that the rest of us can follow suit and break down the labels that divide us and reach across the aisle to build wonderful relationships we would not experience otherwise.

  9. Darby says:

    I too was there Saturday night and was very appreciative of your boldness and honesty in the face of what could otherwise have been considered a roomful of enemies. I share your strong disdain for labels as a means to sum up someone's entire personhood. They just gloss over our manifest variety and individuality.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  10. Kate says:

    Erich, count me among those who were there on Saturday and were thrilled to see you up there. My family background is a mixed bag to say the least, with Baptist preachers, Jews and atheists all mixed in. Skepticism was my first religious language; I only later came to more fully understand that of Jesus instead.

    I can assure you as well that no promise of atheist-on-the-verge-of-conversion was made! 🙂 Your presence was extremely valuable to our church, and I hope that other churches and "skeptics" alike are willing to take a similar step.

    Thanks again. Your conversation, thoughts and posts are all much appreciated.

  11. Craig says:

    I did not get to see you live but we saw the video of that sermon on Sunday at one of our other campuses and I can second Kate that there was no conversion promise. I hope, to steal from "Casablanca", that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship and you would join us often.

    I think it would be extremely healthy if every church had both a pastor and a skeptic in residence. Looking at the life of Jesus as recorded in the Bible you see modeled a deep respect, courtesy, and love for people who were very different from him. Actually he seems to love them far more than the "religious" people of the day. Even the originally highly bigoted Saul respected diversity of thought, as exhibited by his sermon on the Areopagus, after his experience with the Gospel message. When we shun, ridicule, or persecute the skeptic it's hard to not conclude that we pretty much missed the whole point of the life that Jesus lived (as presented in the Bible, of course).

    I'm glad to see that not all skeptics feel the need to polarize themselves. I must beg to differ with Ben on how Dawkins and Hitchens can be perceived (I reference them simply because they represent the limit of my experience with the new, more vocal Atheist thinkers), regardless of what their original intent was. I tried to listen to the audiobook of "The God Delusion" which was read largely by Dawkins himself, but his tone came off as condescending and self-satisfied to the point that I could not finish. This was very disappointing because it was not necessary to be denigrating to anyone – he seems to have special disdain for many in the United States – to prove his point. Hitchens, as I have seen him on Bill Maher's show, also seems more intent on exercising his biting wit than actually convincing anyone of anything. I got the strong impression that he considers most people far too stupid to even be worth convincing of anything. It saddens me that these thinkers feel compelled to borrow from the same play book as the religious right to condemn us (albeit of stupidity or psychosis rather than sin) when we disagree with the "inarguable obviousness" of their position.

    We can wrestle with our differences while we work together to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the lost, comfort the heartbroken, and improve a world I think we can all agree could use our concerted attention. Disagreements lose much of their force when you both are sore and exhausted from shared labor.

  12. Dom-Kalamazoo says:

    Erich, I enjoyed reading your blog and hearing your interview with Darrin. I attended the Journey once with my brother, who was a regular worshipper there,

    I grew up in a Christian family and am also a chemist by career. I have always found the idea of origins to be very fascinating and have struggled with doubts about God and ideas about creationism and evolution.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers! God Bless!

  13. I appreciate the tone of your post. It's very thoughtful and very gracious. I would like to see so much more of the kind of dialog you and Darrin are having.

    I'm curious about something, though. How do you feel about the fact that someone like Darrin may believe that nonbelievers are "all going to hell" whether or not they make a point to say it? And if a Christian friend believes that, but doesn't even bother to tell you, is he a true friend? If I believe you are in grave danger and point you to the only means of escape, I'm not vilifying you, I'm expressing my deep and genuine concern for you.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Barry: great question. I'm sure Darrin could turn that around and wonder whether I'm simply hanging around for an opportunity to convince him that his religion is a waste of time (though that would be a grotesque caricature of my views). I suspect that none of us has anything approaching perfect knowledge of anything. That leaves us all bumping around on the planet trying to figure out what we're supposed to be doing. That's how I see it. In my world view we all have a lot in common: probably 90% of what we do, no matter how sharp we might disagree verbally. Therefore, dialogue (trialogue, etc) is always a worthy thing among people who share communities. I also believe that Freud was certainly right about one thing: the existence and depth of the unconscious.

      Yep, maybe Darrin is thinking that I'm hellbound (though that would be a grotesque caricature of his views, based on our conversations). Maybe he's at least concerned about that. Maybe I'm concerned that he should be more skeptical about his beliefs. No matter what the rhetoric and deep concerns, though, actions speak the loudest. Show, don't tell. In Darrin's church I see a vibrant community of people who are considerably concerned about more than just themselves, and that inspires me.

  14. Thanks for your response, Erich. I hope you and Darrin continue your constructive dialog. Blessings!

  15. Paul Torrez says:

    Thanks for your essay, "Atheists and believers can get along: Here’s Exhibit A". I am a Pastor in Los Angeles and its great to read about warm discussion with Derrick Patrick. I love to see that tolerance goes both ways and that there seems to be a warmth in your dialogue.

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