It is the hope of many atheists that Christianity will die a slow quiet death. Not a death in an open struggle, but a silent murmur slowly losing relevance in the modern age. In a way this has been happening, the secularisation of society offers increasing tolerance to all, except of course those who state that there are things that should not be tolerated. As Christians we believe that sin, especially institutionalised and promoted sin, should not be tolerated.
I believe that Christians in many ways are being squeezed out of mainstream society, but sometimes I also see us running. Sometimes we isolate ourselves so thoroughly that we are no longer threatened, and try to live in our own Christian societies. And whilst fellowship is essential, isolation is not the answer and can only contribute to the silencing of the Christian voice. As an increasingly small group in Western societies how then should we react?
As a scientist I have my own way to contribute. I can provide reasons to others for my faith and why I believe certain things should and shouldn't be done, even in terms that non-Christians can understand and accept. I can discuss with other scientists why I am Christian in a manner with which they are familiar, and I believe which does not cause offence. For example I can talk to others on a scientific basis why some Christian doctrines, such as marriage, actually benefit society.
Equally importantly I can talk to others why breaking some Christian doctrines shouldn't be tolerated, because it doesn't benefit society. I can discuss to others why the Christian ideal of a family unit is best for society, not only theologically, but factually. I can discuss how whilst my faith cannot be proven, it is still in fact rational.
I believe that each of us can do the same from the position we are in: we can engage at a level and in a manner that others can understand. Jesus never isolated himself from those who threatened him, but he talked with them at their level forcing them to listen, even if they didn't want to. Jesus the perfect being, came to those who were fallen, and did not separate himself from us, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us", (John 1:14 ESV). He came to bridge the gap between the righteous and unrighteous, which is something we should try to emulate.
When we deal with people in terms that they can understand, without giving up our own principles, then we cannot be ignored. We need to be familiar yet distinct.
To isolate ourselves from the world only leads to others viewing Christianity as increasingly irrelevant. By dealing with those who reject us on equal terms we actually negate many criticisms. What we need to be saying is that eternity is never irrelevant and explaining in our own ways, why.
Nathanael Yates from Perth, Western Australia, is an award winning young scientist who has won a scholarship to Oxford for 12 months as from October 2011
Nathanael's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/nathanael-yates.html