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A conversation with Eric Metaxas - S9.E11


WORLD Radio - A conversation with Eric Metaxas - S9.E11

Evangelical author and talk show host discusses the challenges atheists face continuing to reject God, despite the scientific evidence in his favor

Eric Metaxas Photo by James Allen Walker for WORLD

WARREN SMITH, HOST: I’m Warren Smith, and today you’re listening in on my conversation with Eric Metaxas. He’s the author of a new book called Is Atheism Dead?

ERIC METAXAS, GUEST: I think we're in a paradigm shift right now. I think that the science is so clear about the existence of God, that we have to have a recalibration. And so I think we're gonna see a paradigm shift, because some people are gonna be really angry. But science is science. This is well established stuff. And I think a lot of people in the church are going to be emboldened in their evangelistic efforts, once they familiarize themselves with what is true. I think a lot of people are going to be shocked. So I really do think even though we're living in tumultuous times in all kinds of ways, I think we're going to see a paradigm shift where faith will be taken more seriously even by people who don't agree with us.

WS: Ten years ago, Eric Metaxas was the belle of the evangelical ball. Indeed, his evangelical bona fides were nearly impeccable. Early in his career he wrote for Veggie Tales and worked for Chuck Colson. He wrote humorously but piercingly about Christian apologetics. His biography of Bonhoeffer was named the book of the year by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and received honors from WORLD Magazine, as well. His keynote address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012 became a viral sensation. With great wit and rhetorical flourish, and with President Barack Obama sitting just a few feet away, he gave a passionate defense of the unborn. Eric Metaxas was becoming what many evangelicals claimed the movement needed: An intellectual Christian, someone who took the Bible and doctrine seriously, but who was also taken seriously in the secular public square.

Then, Donald Trump happened. After being initially skeptical of Trump, Eric Metaxas became a full-throated advocate on his then new Salem radio program, which was syndicated nationwide. He wrote two children’s books about Donald Trump. And, in an infamous incident caught on video, he punched an anti-Trump protester at a rally at the White House in August of 2020. Metaxas has gone on to use his radio program as a platform to have guests who promoted the notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and that the COVID vaccine is dangerous.

All of this has caused a lot of Eric’s former friends and admirers to ask: “What happened to Eric Metaxas”?

As you will hear, it’s a question I pose to him as well. But we begin our conversation with a discussion of his new book Is Atheism Dead? The book is a reference to a 1966 Time Magazine cover that asked the question, “Is God Dead?”

Support for Listening In comes from Samaritan Ministries, a community of Christians who care for one another spiritually and financially when a medical need arises.

Patrick and Melody liked the idea of a group of people coming together to share medical costs, and joined Samaritan Ministries in 2017. When they welcomed twin daughters, fellow members sent money directly to them to help them pay their medical bills. When the body of Christ comes together, burdens are lifted, and God is glorified. This applies to all areas of life, including health care. More at samaritan ministries dot org slash world podcast.

WS: [01:40] In some ways, Eric, this book is kind of a return to form for you, I would say. Isn't it? You've done a lot of books on apologetics. And over the years, but the last few books have been branched out, you've gone into other areas. And somewhat I think this is back into apologetics.

EM: I'm all over the place. I started out and about, listen, I love all these different genres. Apologetics to me is about as important as it gets. And I never thought I’d write a biography. That's the irony. My first book was called Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God But Were Afraid To Ask, which is Q&A, apologetics, fun stuff, which I still recommend. It's you know, but I wrote a sequel called Everything Else You Always Wanted to Know About God. And then another one, Everything You Always Wanted to Know about God, But Were Afraid to Ask: The Jesus Edition. And those are all apologetics. And if you want kind of light apologetics, that's why I wrote those books. But when I was asked to write a biography about William Wilberforce, I thought, hmm, I don't know. I don't think I'll ever write a biography. Why would I want to write a biography? But of course, I did write that. And then I thought maybe I should write another one. I wrote the Bonhoeffer book. And that changed my life. I mean, I never dreamt it would have the reception that it did. It's been translated now into 20 languages, and will soon be translated back into English so we can read it again. Which is very important. No, but seriously 20 languages, I'm thinking it's crazy. We're making a film with a $20 million budget. It's a big deal. And I'm assuming that it's going to be, you know, around the world, because it's a story that unfortunately, speaks to our time. So, that book changed my life. But I yeah, I wrote about America called, If You Can Keep It. And this book, I never planned to write this book, Warren. The, it came to me right at the beginning of COVID. I've always been interested in apologetics. And I met two people over the last few years - one a genius scientist and the other genius archaeologist. And I met them seemingly by happenstance, although I don't believe in that. And they both told me stories and gave me apologetics information that was so mind blowing. I said, Okay, this is really, really, really mind blowing. And then of course, the second thought is, it's mind blowing that nobody knows this. How is it that I didn't even know this stuff? This is crazy. So I thought maybe I should write a book that tells these stories that most Christians don't know. And that led to me thinking, you know, I know much more about biblical archaeology and about science and apologetics. And maybe I should just write a book that deals with all of that. And the title just came to me because of, there's so much evidence for God that most of us don't know. I said, I want to put it in this book. But the question is the opposite of the question asked in the 1966 Time magazine article, ‘Is God dead?’ The real question today, with all this evidence is is atheism dead? And I think it is dead. I think agnosticism will always be alive. But the kind of atheism we've dealt with, I think it's no longer intellectually tenable. If you want to be really serious, intellectually serious, you can't go there anymore. And I try to make that case in the book.

WS: Well, you made a couple of, you said a couple of words that I want to unpack just a little bit. One is atheism and one is agnosticism. Agnosticism basically means that you don't, you know whether there's a God or not. But atheism really it makes a makes a definite definitive statement that there is no God.

EM: Right.

WS: And it is that statement that you say is just scientifically, archaeologically, intellectually, logically untenable. Is that, am I getting that right?

EM: I mean, you can't, you can't prove it from archaeology. The middle of the book is about archaeology. And in a way, I'm making a side wise taste there for the historicity of scripture. But the larger case, the first part of the book is from science. And then the end of the book is looking at atheism itself. And I think when you honestly look at what atheism really is, and the implications, if you're honest intellectually about it, it is untenable. If you look at the science that we have now that we didn't have in 1966, you have to say that science, which is very ironic, because everybody pretends like science is at odds with faith. On the contrary, science came to us via Christian faith, which is something I didn't really know until I wrote the book. And then really, ironically, science in the last 50 years has been pointing extremely dramatically to the idea that everything that exists - the universe, our solar system, our galaxy, the the world, the earth, and then life itself - none of that could conceivably have come into existence via random processes, via naturalistic processes. It doesn't make any sense. It's not that it doesn't make a lot of sense. It doesn't make any sense. We couldn't have known that 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago. Today, science makes the case dramatically, but most people don't know it. And I said, I've got to put in the book, and we have to recalibrate.

WS: Well, Eric, there's a lot of science and a lot of archaeology in your 400 page book. And there's a lot more than that, as well, you, for example, near the end of the book, you talk about a lot of famous scientists who have turned to faith who have rejected atheism and turned to faith. So there's a lot in the book, and we can't unpack it all. But I do want you to talk about a couple of big ideas that are early in the book, but you keep coming back to throughout the book, especially as it relates to science. The two big arguments against atheism, against sort of a random, evolutionary materialistic understanding of origins are these two, it seems to me. And, first of all, I want to see if I'm getting getting you right? And can you unpack them? Number one, is the there's just not enough time. That, that the amount of time that would be required for the evolution of essentially nothing to the very complex human beings and other life forms that we have today, there's just simply not enough time. Even, even scientists acknowledge that. And the other argument is the fine tuning argument. The you you, for example, recount an incident with Christopher Hitchens, the famous atheist, who said that that really was the best argument that Christians had. And by the way, you didn't say who we had that conversation with? Was he having that conversation with you?

EM: I actually don't know who he was having that conversation with. All I know is I was astonished. I wrote a book called Miracles that came out about seven years ago. And in that book, I deal with the fine tuned universe before I get into the more miraculous miraculous, standard miraculous, but I deal with the fine tuned universe stuff. And I put an op ed about this issue, this science increasingly points to God. It was The Wall Street Journal published it. And it became literally the most shared, popular piece in the history of The Wall Street Journal. Why? Because every human being is dying to know that you can never get any straight information. You get this narrative, that science is at odds with faith. But somehow, most of us, we can't believe that, but we keep seeing it. So when this article came out, people went crazy and shared it and shared it and shared it, which is one of the reasons I wrote this book. But the point, but the point was, it was during that time that all of these atheists came out of the woodwork and attacked me like crazy saying the fine tuned universe is the stupidest argument has been dismissed 1000 times. That was when I found the video of Christopher Hitchens, the arch atheist, who was one of the most nasty dedicated atheists who ever lived, admitting that it is this argument that cannot be easily dismissed, that takes a bit of working out or whatever. You know, and of course, he didn't have an answer to it. But I thought, isn't this funny They're all being polemicists. They're all basically saying, Hey, shut up. It's a stupid argument. But in a rare moment of candor, and he didn't have many when it came to the issue of God, Christopher Hitchens on cameras says, ‘This is the argument’. So all of this is kind of funny if you ask me.

WS: Well, and one of the things that's interesting about that argument, that that that it's the fine tuned argument has not been dismissed. It is in fact, Christopher Hitchens himself, gave it credence is, is this idea that also is in your book, Eric. And that is the idea of an anti-religion bias. That, that even when, whenever ideas like the not enough time argument, and the fine tuned universe argument, should be considered, should be given an airing in the public square, is being considered by people like Christopher Hitchens, it's not really getting a fair hearing in the mainstream media, is it?

EM: But see, that's, that's the reason I wrote the book. I said, this is ridiculous. Not only doesn't get a hearing in the mainstream media, most Christians are not aware of this. I mean, you might be but there's so many Christians that have almost bought into some of these secular narratives without realizing it. And I have to say, the facts are so dramatic, and the evidence is so astonishing, we need to know what it is. And I said it all in this book, effectively, I, you know, hit all the highlights. And it's crazy stuff. You're gonna think, How did I not know this? And the answer is what you just said, the secular media basically avoids it. And I think, you know, I write all my books, ultimately hoping that they find their way into secular hands, into the hands of people that are open minded, maybe they're agnostics. But I hope believers will take this book and give it, not to some angry atheist, but to give it to your cousin who just doesn't share your faith. Because either what I write is true, or it's not. This is not Christian truth. This is science. This is history. This is archaeology. It's all true. And you don't have to like it. You don't have to agree with my conclusions, but at least know that the narrative you've bought into, um, it's been pushed so hard for so long, that we've all been fooled by it. And it's about time that we kind of call the bet. Say, stop everything. Let's look at the evidence. And I think many people may not come to faith, I actually think people will come to faith from reading this. But even if they don't come to faith, they're gonna have a radically different view. And they're gonna say that I bought into the secular narrative, the hostility between science and faith. That's garbage. I mean, it's garbage on 100 levels. And it's about time we declared it as such.

WS: Yeah, yeah. Well, Eric, I wanna talk more about your book if you want to. But I want to step back from your book if we could a little bit because you've already said some things that I just want to drill down to a little bit. And one is to go back to Bonhoeffer a little bit if I could. You mentioned that when Bonhoeffer came out, it really changed your life. And I remember meeting you I think, for the first time face to face. It was in New York. We had lunch at a restaurant near Grand Central Terminal, not Grand Central Station, but Grand Central Terminal. And that was, it was just months before Bonhoeffer came out. And if I may put it this way, you were frustrated. You were frustrated with your publisher. You were frustrated, because they wanted to

EM: It was an awful experience. It was very painful. Yeah.

WS: Yeah, and um, you know, I think you were kind of frustrated with, with you know, not just with your publisher, but with your this book, which I think you must have had an intuition was going to be a big book that might...

EM: I tell you the truth, Warren, I honestly did not. I only knew, and it's kind of my theme with everything. I just tried to be honest and tell the truth as best I can. Sometimes people will get angry. But we've got to do our best. And when I wrote the Bonhoeffer book, the one thing I knew is that no one had written a book that really told the story. They all had this liberal bias, or they were kind of dull in the storytelling. And I thought, I know that I've done this man some justice, and that I just want this book to get out there. I promise you, I never dreamt that it would be a big book. I am not being falsely humble. I never dreamt it would be a big book. I just wanted to get it out. And the publisher that I actually switched from, I tell the story in my Miracles book because a strange miracle happened along these lines really beside. The publisher wanted me to cut it in half. And I remember thinking, you know, I get that. It's a 600 page book on a German theologian. Who's going to read that? On the other hand, as a writer, I know when you have muscle and bone, and fat. And I didn't see any fat. There was very, very little fat that I could trim. And I said, this is the book, this is the story. I think the fact that it's definitive, and maybe long, is going to be a selling point. That was my instinct. And I certainly wasn't going to cut it very much, because I said, Show me what to cut. I mean, I have no idea what what do you see here that's not relevant. So I had to stick to my guns and had to switch publishers, switch to Thomas Nelson. And they were wonderful. They published it just as I wrote it. And of course, I never dreamt that it would be evangelical book of the year, that it would end up selling a million copies. That it would be translated into 20 languages. I never, never, never never dreamt that. I just wanted to get published and move on. And so it really changed my life, because I wrote about something that struck a nerve. And that strikes nerves today with people because you realize that human beings are exactly the same in America as they were in Germany in the 30s. The temptations are the same. And if we don't do what God calls us to do, we will go down a similar path. So it's a, it ends up being really serious and timely.

WS: Well, obviously the book changed your profile. I mean, what, without getting too personal, Eric, whenever a $30 book, hardback book sells a million copies, you can do a little bit of simple math and know that the author makes a few shekels in that process. So it changed your life financially. It changed your profile. It changed, you know, a lot of things for you. Did it make it harder for you in some ways? I mean, obviously

EM: Well, first of all, I just want to help you with the math. This was a million copies. There's, most of the copies sold for $15. New Yorkers, I'm a New Yorker, pay 50% tax. We were in tremendous debt. My daughter was in private school. So the bottom line is, I was able to continue to put food on the table and live in New York. That's about as exciting as it gets. But it is kind of funny, when you think about it, that I was really struggling. And this book suddenly made all these Christians aware of me, excited to read the book, to meet me, I thought. I never never dreamt that that would happen. And it did kind of catapult me in a way that I honestly, Warren, I never, I just wanted to get the book published and move on to the next thing. I've always wanted to do radio and TV more than anything. I mean, I know I'm a writer. But that was my principal ambition. And it was a it was a wild thing. It's what it's what got me invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama. And, you know, that was all surreal. Totally surreal. But I think in all seriousness, I was humbled up front so much, that I stayed grounded, because I think early success can really mess you up. If success comes to you in your late 40s, after you've been through a lot of pain, I've had a lot of health issues, and stuff. And I think that, you know, it sort of saved us from having to move to a cottage in the suburbs. But it really gave me the ability, you know, to do some of the other things and write some of the other books that I wanted to write and to to speak, as I say, at the prayer breakfast, and to have more of a voice than I did, dramatically more of a voice than I did before that. And of course, my radio program came out of it because Phil Boyce, who, the guru at Salem radio, was listening to the Hugh Hewitt show, and Hewitt heard my speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. This is February 2012. And he played it on his show. And as a result of that, I ended up getting hired by Salem to do the radio show that I now have, the Eric Metaxas Show. So it's just strange how life works sometimes. And I and I never if you'd asked me 15 years ago, Eric, do you think you'll ever write a biography? I would say I guarantee you I'll never write a biography.

WS: Yeah, yeah. Well, Eric, I wanna, there's been some other changes in your life as well. I want to talk about that. You've gotten more politically active. I remember hearing you right, right about the time the Bonhoeffer book came out. I was at CPAC. I was with WORLD Magazine at that time. And you were speaking at CPAC, not on the main stage. But on one of the other stages. Big crowd. I mean, there were probably four or 500 people in the crowd, but it wasn't the main stage with, you know, 1000s of people. Donald Trump was speaking on that main stage and probably around 2011. And I remember you vividly remember you saying something along these lines that if that because this a CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. You said something along the lines of, after talking about Bonhoeffer and and saying that if that if Donald Trump is a conservative, I'm not sure I am. And then, you know, fast forward. Like I say, I think this was around 2011. Fast forward to 2014, 2015, 2016 timeframe, you become a fairly full throated advocate for Donald Trump in that interim time. I'm sure it was a process. We're talking about a five year period here. What were some of the things that motivated that change in you?

EM: Well, you know, I mean it when I say that, I believe in following the truth in the evidence where it goes. And when you look at the book that we were talking about a minute ago, Is Atheism Dead?, you realize a lot of people, it's very tempting to go with the crowd. To say that if I say this, or say that, boy, I'm gonna get it. I better be careful. And so I think what happened was, I mean, look, I hated Donald Trump. I remember it viscerally. And I remember when he was, in 2018, when he was talking about running, I was thinking, you've got to be kidding. Um, but a number of things happened. Number one, he became the nominee of the Republican Party. And I'm one of those people that I've always felt - now I feel a little differently now, because the Republican Party has been revealed to be so feckless, that sometimes that they're far worse than the Democrats who are at least honest about the fact that they couldn't care less about the poor. Or rather, that they're honest, in fact, by the fact that they are pro socialism. But they pretend to care about the poor. But the Republicans, more than half of them are utterly useless. Don't believe in conservative principles. Don't care about the unborn and all the things that you and I care about. But I remember when Trump became the nominee, I thought to myself, I don't need to like the guy. He's running against Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is not Paul Tsongas. She's not, you know, you know, you name it. This is someone who I think of as tremendously corrupt. Like scary corrupt, and very politically liberal. And at that point, I just remember thinking, there's no decision to be made. He's the nominee. So of course, you know, if he says he's pro life, I don't know how pro life he's gonna be. But at least he's he's talking about it. A lot of Republicans don't even go near it. And he said a lot of things that I thought, I'm kind of shocked. They make sense. And this is coming out of the mouth of Donald Trump. What's going on? And the more I listened, the more I thought I misjudged him on some things. Now, you know, I didn't suddenly become the kind of person who says, like, you know, who cares about adultery or, or divorce or like, I don't care. You know, and I know, my values. If they ever were real, they don't change. But I thought, politically speaking, this is a man who is running against someone that I think of as the kind of person that could end America as we know it. And so I voted for him. But what happened that really amazed me, Warren, was how many people that I thought were my friends or colleagues or allies made the case that we could not vote. Don't vote for Hillary, but don't vote for him. And I remember thinking, ‘okay, so that prevents me from having to do this nasty thing, a vote for the thrice married, foul mouthed guy from New York. But what if Hillary wins?’ Then I'm pretending that there was a third choice. And so it may be uncomfortable, because I thought, I don't see a third choice. I don't see a way around this. And so, of course, I voted for him. But what amazed me further, was that he was so vilified. I thought, even if there were things about him that I didn't like, when I see, this is just my personality. You know, if I see a dog being kicked, I'm going to get really angry. It might be a really mean dog. But the way I saw the press go insane after him. Never report anything positive. They made him out to be the devil. I thought, it just bothered me because I thought to myself, this is, this is not right. You may disagree with him, but like let's judge him the way we would judge anybody. And it just got so bad and so divisive, that I really felt kind of like I didn't, I didn't know what to do at that point. I think to be honest, I almost didn't know how to react.

WS: Right? Well, I get all of that. And I even respect to a certain extent the tendency to, you know, to go to the aid of the underdog, not that I would exactly call Donald Trump an underdog. But, but but I do understand that tendency. I guess, my question, Eric, and would be, you know, what would be too much? I mean, if the things that Donald Trump did weren't enough to kind of warn you,

EM: Well, what did he do? He was the most pro life president in the history of the Republican Party. That that is so stunning to me, because none of us believed that that would ever be the case. No, no,

WS: Well, let me let me just tell you they're funding government funding for Planned Parenthood actually went up during the Trump administration not down. And not only...

EM: You're, you're a policy guy, well, all I'm saying is that he was dramatically pro life. He appeared at the at the pro life when

WS: Well, he was, his rhetoric was pro life, but his actual policies that the bills that he signed, that funded...

EM: Okay, I can't argue with you on that, because I literally don't know. And if you're right about that, that's really grievous. But I just want to say that I saw what he did with the economy, with with talking about how America is a great country. With, with siding with Israel so strongly that he says if I said that, I'm going to move the, the, the embassy to Jerusalem, I'm going to do it. No. I said, this is breathtaking. We've I've never in my life, literally never seen a politician do what he said in the campaign. And I thought most of my friends didn't believe him when he when he said all those things, that he'll he'll say anything to get elected. And I didn't see that. I didn't see that. And I didn't see, I think a lot of people I mean, he's kind of like a Rorschach blot. A lot of people saw him as a fighter who got nasty. I saw him as somebody who was so attacked, that it was his personality, there was no way he wasn't gonna fight back. Now, you and I, by God's grace, would not respond in some of the ways that he did. But I just thought, this is not, you know, if I if I, if I hire a pilot, and this guy, you know, he has tattoos and he's nasty. But he's the best pilot ever. And then this guy, he loves his family. He's a really godly, evangelical Presbyterian, but he's not a great pilot. You got to think, okay, we're in a war. I want the better pilot. I'm going to witness to him, I'll do everything I can. But we're talking about piloting a plane. And I think America was and has been in such dire straits. Now, this is a fundamental disagreement I have with a lot of my friends. But I really do believe that our ability to withstand what has been happening over eight years of Obama and over many years of the culture wars, it's so dramatic. I think that Donald Trump put three originalists on the Supreme Court. I think, to myself, What if Hillary Clinton had put three Sotomayors on the Supreme Court? Is there a future for America? So things like that made it impossible for me on any level, to know what else to do, but support this president.

WS: Got it. Well, without without either fact checking or arguing those points, because you and I, Eric, as you will know, you and I offline, over over meals have had this conversation before. And so we're probably not going to completely process it here. But I do want to ask this, because there's no doubt that that because you, you know, kind of went from, by your own admission just a few minutes ago hating Donald Trump to being a full throated supporter of Donald Trump. You I think it would be fair to say I don't think you would disagree that you did confuse some people about who you are. That that people who you know, previously loved you suddenly hated you. People that previously either didn't know who you were, or hated you now suddenly loved you. Outside even just this week, the University of the South, Sewanee. A venerable southern institution is calling to. You received an honorary doctorate from that institution.

EM: Yeah

WS: And they are now and I don't know if they've re, I don't think they've rescinded it, but they're talking about rescinding your honorary doctorate.

EM: Yeah.

WS: And just wondering, I mean, when you hear news like that, do you worry that your political positions are getting in the way of people hearing you when you speak out on questions like apologetics and the gospel and other matters?

EM: If a bunch of woke kids at a place like the University of the South hate my guts, I must be doing something right. I remember when I was invited to speak there, friends of mine said, Sewanee has gotten so liberal, how could you darken the door of a place like that, Eric? And I said, What I still say. Anybody that would have me, I'm going to speak the truth when I'm there. I'm going to speak, you know, the cancel culture had started then. And I went there and I gave the most winsome speech I could possibly give in favor of listening to both sides, respecting people on the other side of the ideological divide. I mean, I really went hard at being as winsome, and kind as I could, in my speech. Days later, some student wrote, in the newspaper, in the student newspaper, that this was the most vicious, hateful thing he had ever heard, you know, in all of his 19.1 years. And I thought to myself, we're living in a crazy world. Because I know exactly what I said. You can read the text of what I said. We are living in a world where woke culture has become very loud. It's basically cultural Marxism. It's antithetical to what we believe as Christians and what we believe as Americans who believe in America. And I think that that's, that's one issue. Those people are, are destroying a great country, and I think we have to stand against them. So if some students led by a, a gay activist, or actually, of course, you can't say gay has to be LGBTQ, etc, etc, etc. activist alumnus are making noise about taking my degree, I mean, that's a private matter. Sewanee has to do what they want to do. When you talk about them as a venerable institution. Yale is a venerable institution, I went to Yale. Yale is as spiritually and and politically dark, and messed up as any place on the planet. And so, whatever they want to do, God bless them. Um, it's almost comical to me.

WS: Right.

EM: But to talk about, you know, when people do, do I worry that I've confused people? Of course I do. But what I've noticed, Warren, and this is kind of the key, is that we're living in such divided times. And I think it's what made me come to Trump's defense sometimes. Is I said, if you want to criticize somebody on what's right and true, go ahead. Let's have a debate. But when you are so full of hate, you've given yourself permission to hate, especially if you're a Christian, that you're, you're misrepresenting people, you're putting words in their mouth, you're saying they said things that they simply didn't say, that happened to me over and over and over. And I just thought, this is crazy. I mean, people said, that, I mean, anytime I would say something half jokingly, when everybody knows me, I, it's like, that's my way of speaking. I'm half joking and stuff, they would take it as though I said it with perfect seriousness. They would twist it 20%. And they would publish it in an article without asking for a response. And then people would write articles about the article and write articles, but the articles were there. And I thought to myself, there's no winning, there's no fighting. I mean, if people want to vilify me, I have to say what I believe is right. I can't write about people like Bonhoeffer who went to their deaths doing what they believe God called them to do. If I'm not willing to do that in my own life. And if it's going to cost me, it hurts. But what choice do I have? In other words, I simply have to do the best I can. I mean, look, we have to understand, there were tons of people in the church who thought Bonhoeffer was a straight up traitor to Germany. He knew that he had to answer to God, and that, by the way, if he got something wrong, which is the same in my case, if I get something wrong, I want to repent. I want to know. But I can't worry so much that I say nothing, and do nothing. And when you have Marxist culture taking over, not just America, but the evangelical church. When you have critical race theory taking over, you have people bowing to sexual anarchy, I think to myself, Wow, how do you how do you just stand by and say, Well, you know, the pendulum swings. This is, this is really, really terrible. And so I think that there's just no question in the battle, you're going to get something wrong. All you can do is try to be honest and repent of it. But when it comes to worrying about, you know, what certain people think of me, I know that there are people and this is sort of just the world we live in. And it's actually why I wrote Is Atheism Dead? is that you live in a world where everybody worries about what other people think. I worry about what my fellow scientists think, more than I worry about what's true. And I think we need to stop that. We need to do our best to follow the evidence. If you lose some people, you have to believe that you just want to honor God with the truth as best you can. You won't get it perfect, but you have to try. And I really think that that that's what cancel culture is. And it only works in one direction, it's never going to glorify God. And so we're in a really dramatic place right now. And so I just, all I can say is I will do the best I can. I've done the best I can. And in writing a book like this, by the way, which doesn't have a political syllable in it, I just want to say, let's look at the facts on science. Let's look at the facts on archaeology. Let's look at the facts of the atheists who look really hard at atheism. If my views or something I tweeted once bothers you so much that you can't look at this, I'm gonna say I think you've got the problem. Because we're talking about math. So what I said over here shouldn't affect what you know, is one plus one equals two and you say, well, Hitler's such a jerk that I don't even want to believe one plus one equals two. You've got to be able to think clearly, that even people that you hate might get something right. And as Christians, we have a particular responsibility to the truth. And so I feel, um, because of writing my book on Luther, writing my book on Bonhoeffer, you know, sometimes I feel like saying, Here I stand, I can do no other. And I don't say it in the way that people think Luther said it. People think Luther said, Here I stand, I can do other. He said it humbly. He said, based on what I read in the Scriptures, I can't recant what I said. If you can show me and he begged them, please show me where where I got wrong. And they just said, shut up and recant. And he said, I, based on that I really, I really can't, I'm trying to go by what I see. And so ultimately, all I can ask people is to believe me when I say that. Um, you don't have to, but you know, I simply do my best to say, I'm, I'm trying to do my best to do my best to persuade people. And I can't really, you can't win them all. So I just, I just have to do my best. And I trust the Lord with my career. I think if I were canny, and really worried about a career in book sales, or whatever it is, well, maybe I do something differently. But you can't write about people like Bonhoeffer and Luther and when the chips are down, decide like, Oh, I'm going to take a pass on this one. I think our country's at stake. And I think truth itself is at stake if you're dealing with cultural Marxism. So we're living in tough times. And, you know, I I am simply doing my best with knowledge that I can get it wrong. And believe you me, I know that.

WS: That brings to a close my conversation with Eric Metaxas. We’ve been discussing, among other things, his new book Is Atheism Dead? His previous books include biographies of Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I should also mention that Eric has been no stranger to the pages of WORLD Magazine over the years. A quick search on his name reveals that he’s been mentioned or featured more than 50 times in WORLD’s pages. To see those articles, just go to wng.org and type Eric Metaxas into the search engine at the top of the page.

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The producer for today’s program is Leigh Jones. She gets technical support from Johnny Franklin, Carl Peetz and Kristen Flavin. Our executive producer is Nick Eicher. I’m your host Warren Smith. And you’ve been Listening in….


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