"I don't primarily see apologetics as the winning of arguments or converts," writes Randal Rauser, associate professor of historical theology, in his new book, The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails. "Rather, apologetics is the discovery of truth through a winding, weaving, honest, aimless, pointless, and completely purposeful conversation to which two or more people desperately want to understand the way things really are."
But how does one strike up such a conversation with an atheist? Rauser offers an imaginative attempt, where he and the Reader decide to visit a local, college town coffee shop. "Let me share a tip for getting the grande conversation going," says Randal. "Employ strategically placed conversation starters. For example...." he reaches into his book bag and pulls out a shiny silver copy of Richard Dawkins's bestseller The God Delusion. "No atheist can walk by without sharing a comment on Dawkins." With that, he places the book prominently on the edge of the pitted coffee table, slightly propped up by the corner of a couple of Mother Jones magazines for better visibility.
"Here's another conversation starter," he says as he opens his laptop. Pasted on the back of the case are two stickers, a Darwin fish and an ichthus. He taps the stickers. "Great catalysts for conversation since many people still pit Darwin against God. Whatever your views on that topic, these two stickers are bound to get people talking. That's the great thing about having a laptop. You can treat it like a portable billboard. Set up shop pretty much anywhere, pop the lid with your evocative stickers, and wait. The possibilities are endless. Just imagine the inquiries if you plastered on an 'Anarchists for Jesus' bumper sticker!"
Needless to say, Rauser's tactics work. He hooks an atheist, reels him in and begins the grande conversation of two people who desperately want to understand the way things really are. I haven't finished the book, but so far, it's been a good read.