By “showstopper” they don’t mean the typical showbiz definition of a performer winning prolonged applause for an exceptional performance but rather the third definition from Websters: “one that stops or could stop the progress, operation, or functioning of something.”
Part of the complaint can be stated this way: “Why bother investigating the nature of anything if God can be invoked at will? If ignorance presents any obstacle whatsoever, pull out the God card and magically acquired knowledge fills a gap that demands painstaking learning.” Commonly called “god of the gaps” reasoning, these appeals to the supernatural might be permissible in religious services, but not in science labs or classrooms.
Ruth Padel, great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin, said of the influential naturalist: “He had the most amazing sense of wonder. He was always thinking, ‘How does that work?’ And that led him to everything.”
The perception––deserved or not––is that Christians seem more interested in churchly matters than in solving world problems. Further, how can Bible reading help solve world hunger, cure cancer, and end wars? In fact, skeptics might even go the Dawkins-Hitchens route and say the Bible poisons everything.
I’ve shared a Subway sandwich or two with the scientists here at RTB, so I think I know how they’d respond to this charge, but I’d like to hear your comments. But first, let’s add this obvious recent complication.
Certainly, ignominies like the Camping affair don’t help. The ultimate showstopper. Atheists have planned Rapture Parties to mock the event and to promote other worthy causes instead. Some clever searching on the Internet can divulge a history of failed predictions. And if they happen to turn on “Christian” television what they see there might leave them preferring infomercials.
The show must go on, but not in that way. The face of American Christianity often appears as a Halloween mask, but there’s a genuine, attractive countenance there somewhere that needs to show itself to a nonbelieving world of people probably more awestruck by the entertainment value of what passes for Christianity than the incredible truth claims that have always changed lives, communities, and societies for the better.