I recently had the privilege of speaking at the Norwegian Veritas Conference online. It was such a shame that I couldn’t be there in person, as I was originally booked to be, because I love visiting Norway. As has soften been the case this year, travel was out of the question so I joined with them online from my study in Dundee!
The guys at Veritas-Norway did an amazing job at pulling together a brilliantly organised conference despite the difficulties of Covid. It really was a brilliant event to be part of! Students formed the bulk of the audience, and they had brought speakers in from a range of countries too. The host Bjorn Hinderacker told that me that, “more than 1000 attended online, and more have watched afterwards, and listened to the podcast”, which is really encouraging given the restrictions.
I was invited to go and speak on the subject of my previous book, “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist” – which they coincided with the launch of “Ateisten som ikke fantes: eller: de forferdelige konsekvensene av dårlige argumenter” which is the Norweigan translation of that book! The last translation of that book was into Swedish – so for some reason the Scandinavian countries seem to really like the book! That is hilarious because the second chapter in the book is called “Why Sweden doesn’t exist!” The book uses some funny illustrations to explore some big questions about Atheism. So that chapter looks at the way that some atheists like to claim that their ‘absence of belief is not a belief’ and therefore requires no argument or evidence. So I imagine that someone says to me “I don’t believe that Sweden exists”; and I refute their assertion with evidence and they reply, ”No, you don’t understand – my statement that Sweden doesn’t exist isn’t a belief, it’s a non-belief so I don’t need to defend it!” I didn’t know how that example would be received there, but they loved it! I remember asking to the translator, “Is the humour in this book too British for your audience?” and he replied, “No, we love Monty Python!”
So as well as looking at the claim that Atheism isn’t a belief, we also examined the spurious claim that ‘science can explain everything’ and then the idea that “we don’t need God to be good” – some of the key sections in the book. So we had some fun with some of the comedy in the book – but then used that last topic (goodness) to pivot into the heart of the gospel itself. Christianity is not about claiming that you are a ‘good person’, but about admitting that you are not and need forgiveness and transformation.
I really hope to be able to work with the Veritas Conference in Norway again, and after Covid go back there. It’s a wonderful part of the world which my family love!
Bjorn Hinderaker from Veritas Norway commented, “We had the book The Atheist Who Didnt Exist translated and published for the conference, but due to the lack of large in-person conference, the sales have not yet picked up. We hope there will be opportunity to promote the book further when we get out of the pandemic. And we would like to reconnect with Andy at some point both for his input, and to further promote his book. We are really happy with his contribution, combining knowledge, clear thinking with humour. It has given an additional edge to our apologetic resources.