I doubt he’d recognize me today. I was barely twenty years of age when I began a series of appearances on KFYI radio in Phoenix on the radio program of one Tom Leykis, one of today’s best known “shock jocks.” I was “debating” in studio with one Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Barker is a genius, inarguably: a musician who helped to design the rail network for the entire Northeastern US (or so he told me back then). A tremendously bright fellow, I remember corresponding some with him after the appearance on Leykis’ show. I will also never forget the few highly unpleasant moments I spent with he and his “girlfriend” (I honestly don’t recall if they were engaged or just what). She was a true NARAL/PPoA/NOW “in your face” type feminist (the polar opposite of my wife, to be sure). It was quite an eye-opening experience for this young Baptist.
Well, I had recently purchased the debate Barker had with Doug Wilson, not so much because I wanted to hear another theist/atheist debate, but for the transparently honest reason that I like to listen to those I will be debating debate. It’s called being prepared. I happen to know Pastor Wilson is doing the same thing, and that quite wisely. (In passing, I enjoyed Doug’s presentation, I appreciated his willingness to affirm the truth even when Barker tried to make him back off by presenting his question in the absolutely worst possible light, and confirmed what I already knew: Doug Wilson wrote the book on the use of humor and, yes, sarcasm, in argument—and I mean that seriously, check it out—and will be a formidable opponent in debate, though I want to make sure everyone is clear on one thing: Doug Wilson and I agree on so much of the truth our disagreement, while important and worthy of discussion, should not, by any stretch of the imagination, be taken to mean we will be engaging this debate as anything but brothers but I mean “brothers” in the very sense I will be defending as the only meaningful use of the term in the debate!).
Listening to Barker brought back memories of the studio in central Phoenix and my encounter with Barker that day on KFYI. But it also reminded me that bright, intelligent, well-spoken individuals can still be utterly foolish in their thinking. As I listened to Barker vainly seek to define God out of existence I could detect, very clearly, the same insatiable hatred of God he had displayed two decades earlier. I do not know what the source of that hatred is (he was an ordained minister, however, he was so in a very anthropocentric, legalistic church, and in fact found Doug Wilson’s thorough-going Calvinism just a tad bit unsettling at times), but in the classic fulfillment of Hebrews 6 Dan Barker has been caused to love a lie. It is a sobering thing to hear such a bright intellect twisted and torn, vainly seeking to define out of existence the very God he knows so well is there. I can see how fellow God-haters would find his arguments compelling, limited, as they were, to the human plane. “God can’t exist because of this” and then he would go off into an argument that always had the same fatal flaw (which Doug very rightly pointed out a number of times): his entire argument would be based upon defining God in human terms with human limitations. I suppose those arguments might have value for those who have a very limited conception of God and who seek to argue from the creation to the Creator, but Wilson had presented a Van Tillian opening, and no matter where you fall in the apologetic spectrum, the fact of the matter is the Bible says men know God exists (Romans 1:18-22), and hence are active in suppressing that knowledge. Few people give a more stark, sobering example of that suppression than Dan Barker.