On March 24th, the masses are expected to descend on the Washington Mall for what is being labeled as "largest secular event in world history." The ill-named "Reason Rally" will celebrate atheism, complete with live music, food, comedians, and a speaker line-up that includes famed atheists like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers.
I don't know about you, but it strikes me as strange that people - like the members of Missouri State University's atheist club known as the "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" - are gathering to revel in their shared bond of not believing in something.
It might sound like nonsense to you or me, but maybe not too many Americans in the under-30 crowd. While there are no hard facts on how many young Americans don't believe in God, we do know that atheist - or non-theist - groups are on the rise on college campuses, filled with kids who grew up in Christian homes.
According to the Barna Research Group, three in five "Christian" kids abandon the church after the age of 15. Eighty-four percent of 18- to 29- year olds who call themselves "Christians" admit that they have no idea how the Bible applies to their occupation.
It's no understatement that the church has done a poor job in teaching our young people that reason and faith are not opposites, and that atheists are far from being on the side of reason. You can find on our website a chart which I use to demonstrate the various worldviews work out, and which one, Christianity, is rational. Many kids, however, who grow up huddled in a Christian environment find themselves in the university setting completely unequipped to defend the rationality of the Christian faith against the secular humanist worldview so prevalent on college campuses.
Well, there are several Christian groups doing something about it. Last September, I heard about a new group called "Ratio Christi" - Latin for "The Reason for Christ" - that is starting up student apologetics clubs to reclaim the intellectual battleground on college campuses.
The first club began at Appalachian State University in 2008; it has since grown to 65 chapters, including one in South Africa that draws over 200 students. By coming alongside campus ministries, not starting their own, these grassroots groups are filling a very obvious need. At weekly meetings, students can interact with trained apologists who give them with credible answers and deal with the crucial questions of life, like "Does God really exist?" and "Is Christianity consistent with science?"
Let me share what one student said after participating in a Ratio Christi club at North Carolina State:
"Ratio Christi has given me something that I did not know exists - a rational and logical defense for my faith. When I dialogue with atheists, they are shocked I have a defense. When I run into skeptics, they are overwhelmed by the amount of evidence supporting creation. Last but not least, when I talk to Christians with questions about this, they find that their belief has a strong, historical foundation that cannot be shaken."
Folks, this is music to my ears. A young, bright, college kid who gets it - and who is willing to defend the faith and make the case that Christianity is truly the only reasonable worldview there is.