"Truth springs from argument amongst friends." - David Hume
The discourse between religious believers and atheists is once again publicly prominent, thanks to the "New Atheists" - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens - and their equally vocal religious counterparts. This discussion devolves too often into a rancorous exchange, and common ground seems hard to find when opinions are so diametrically opposed. However, I sincerely believe that this common ground can be found, leading to a new level of mutual respect between the debating parties.
I am a non-believer, but I grew up in an evangelical Christian home, participated actively in the Navigators and NLCF at Virginia Tech as an undergraduate, served as a missionary to Japan, Guatemala and Florida, and led music in several churches. Many among my friends and family are seminary-educated missionaries and clergy who are familiar with the best of Christian intellectual traditions. Although I left my faith through a long journey studying science, philosophy, history and religion, I maintain one of the principles I held as a sincere Christian: I will believe only what is true. The Apostle Paul described the value of truth to the Christian when he said that if hope in the afterlife is untrue, "we are of all men most to be pitied." As a non-believer, I espouse the related concept that if an idea is intellectually vacuous, it should be discarded. The religious and non-religious both believe that an idea is only as valuable as it is true.