This past week, Aaron Gardner and his wife, both Evangelicals, went to the young earth Creation Museum in Kentucky to witness a curiosity: not animatronic people riding animatronic dinosaurs ala The Flinstones, but to get a glimpse of something even more, well, strange: 300 atheists ogling their way through a group tour of an anti-evolution museum! Here’s how Aaron put it at his blog:
What would it be like to be a Christian and a fly on the wall as a group of atheists peered at exhibits that attempted to prove them wrong?
The group tour was for the Secular Student Alliance (SSA), and Aaron and his wife had a really good idea. To get an even closer look at the strange creatures on exhibition (that is, the atheists), they decided to actually join the atheist group tour:
To ensure that we would be able to be included with some of the SSA members in the tour (and because we got $12 off on each of our admission prices) we signed up with the group. What we did not know was that we would also get name tags with the SSA logo printed prominently on them.
Uh oh. That’s where things started to go decidedly wrong, for by putting that name identification tag on their clothing, the other Christians at the museum (who didn’t know Aaron and his wife from, well, Adam and Eve) assumed that they were atheists bearing on their bodies the equivelent of Hester Primm’s scarlet letter “A”. Here’s how Aaron describes his experience, and what he discovered:
[I]t was obvious that there was a distinctive way that we were being treated because of the shared identification. There were hateful glances, exaggerated perceptions, waxing surveillance by security, and anxious but strong ‘amens’ accompanying a lecture on “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” by Dr. Jason Lisle. Is this how Christians treat people? Is this how we follow Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? I cannot help but think that many Christians are fearful of atheists. It is a sort of xenophobia that runs along lines of faith and belief. What we tend to forget is that atheists, agnostics, and evolutionists are people too. If our attempt to preserve our belief means that we are treating these people like animals, are we really holding up principles that are based on a creation worldview? There have rarely been times in my life that I have been ashamed of people that I call “brothers and sisters in Christ.” This was one of them. To be judged by people that share my beliefs because of the name tag I wore was appalling. We forget that Jesus not only commanded that we love our enemies and pray for them, but he also sought out people who were rejected by the religious order, embraced them, spent time with them, and partied with them.
I’m an agnostic, but I can’t help but wonder if Jesus didn’t mischievously set Aaron and his wife up for a lifelong-to-be-remembered lesson in human alienation, and to tell their story to others. At his blog, Aaron offered this observation:
Do not miss this: belief must not be a reason not to engage in relationship. This is not about being right or wrong. This is not about having the answers. This is not about their tactics and how they have been rude or dismissive. This is not about a fundamental difference in the way we approach the world. What this is about is relationship. It is about listening to other inhabitants of the planet, regardless of what we believe about how we got here. It is about having dialogue and getting to know one another. It is about sharing a cup of coffee, a glass of beer, or a soda and enjoying one another’s company. It is about realizing that we have more in common than we have in opposition. It is about being like Christ, which in fact is the largest issue that keeps us apart.
As an agnostic, I have one response to this: Amen.
Here’s part of an atheist’s video recounting the same day at the Creation Museum that Aaron describes: