Recently my colleagues and I attended a debate on the topic “Does God Exist?”. The primary audience for the debate was private high school and middle school students. In our post-debate debrief one of my friends stated, “If you are going to put on a debate like this for a group of kids, you’d better be sure you win.” Unfortunately, it was none to apparent that the pro-God side won. At best it was a draw.
Dinesh D’Souza was the voice of theism in the debate. I have heard him many times and he is quite competent in such a forum. However, the voice of atheism, Dan Barker, was also quite effective in planting the seeds of doubt. And, I am convinced that many a student left the auditorium with the suspicion that Barker was what he claimed to be — the voice of “reason and kindness”.
The school planned follow-up discussions with the students in their classrooms. Hopefully, that time was used effectively in exorcising residual suspicions and fears. Even now I am praying for those who were in attendance.
That is the background, now let me get to the point. Students need to be confronted with arguments against their own beliefs and worldview. If they are not exposed to opposing arguments and claims in an environment where those arguments and claims can be effectively debunked then they become prime targets for sophists and philosophical snipers. Thus, it is a GOOD thing to expose your children to error. If you are doing so in a controlled environment you are inoculating them against many dangerous viral ideas.
HOWEVER, when attempting to inoculate the young, you must make sure that you exposing them to error in a controlled environment. Or, as my friend said, you’d better make sure you win. Truth has nothing to fear in the marketplace of ideas. But, truth poorly defended when error has a fully loaded arsenal can be as harmful when presented in a Christian environment as it is in the homeland of error.
Careful, careful, . . .