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On Talking with Atheists: An Interview with Cameron Bertuzzi 

September 1, 2020


In today’s blog interview, Matt Nelson catches up with Cameron Bertuzzi, a professional photographer and the founder of Capturing Christianity, a ministry aimed at exposing the intellectual side of Christian belief. Cameron is a writer and speaker who uses his ministry to host discussions and interviews on Christian apologetics. He is married and the father of two.

Tell us about “Capturing Christianity.” What is it, and why did you start it?

Capturing Christianity is a web-based ministry that exposes the intellectual side of Christian belief. I write, interview professional philosophers, host discussions between Christians and non-Christians, and create content for our growing YouTube channel.

I started this ministry originally because I wanted to get serious about apologetics and thought that starting a website was a good idea. The reason I’m involved in apologetics in the first place is because, about eight years ago, my brother became an atheist. Talking with him showed me how little I knew about my faith. From that point on, I developed a passion for apologetics—for understanding the reasons why Christianity is not only reasonable but also true. That passion eventually turned into a full-time ministry.

You’ve had some of the world’s most eminent Christian intellectuals on your show, including William Lane Craig, Edward Feser, Robert Koons, Josh Rasmussen, Michael Licona, and Gary Habermas. In some cases, they’ve been matched up with some of the world’s most formidable skeptical thinkers. Tell us about some of those atheists and agnostics. Which have most impressed you?

One of my favorite atheist interlocutors, and coincidentally one of the biggest, is Alex O’Connor (aka Cosmic Skeptic). Alex’s YouTube channel boasts over 365k subscribers. One of the things I admire about Alex is his commitment to truth no matter the cost. His reasoning led him, for example, to embrace veganism (being open about this even lost him some followers). He’s been in conversation on my channel a few times and I’m always impressed when he comes on. He’s smart, respectful, and likable. I consider him a friend.

Sam Harris once said famously that William Lane Craig is “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of [Harris’] fellow atheists.” In your opinion, which atheist (or agnostic) in the world would you say is William Lane Craig’s equal in that respect? Which skeptic most puts the fear of God into many of our fellow Christians?

In my view, the one atheist on planet Earth that puts the fear of God in Christians, or at least should put the fear of God into Christians, is Dr. Graham Oppy. Dr. William Lane Craig has said on many occasions that Dr. Oppy is “scary smart.” He doesn’t say that about many people. And if you watch any of Dr. Oppy’s interviews or debates, you’ll immediately see why Dr. Craig would dole out such a compliment. Interestingly, Dr. Craig and Dr. Oppy recently participated in a moderated dialogue on my channel on the argument from the applicability of mathematics. It was a fascinating discussion! Dr. Craig met his match in that exchange.

It’s worth noting that, while Dr. Oppy is certainly “scary smart,” there are Christians worthy of the title as well. I can think of at least three: Dr. Alexander Pruss, Dr. Rob Koons, and Dr. Josh Rasmussen. If you don’t know who these people are, look them up immediately!

Have you ever changed your mind as the result of something a non-Christian has said or argued on your show?

That’s a good question. I can’t say that any non-Christian has really caused me to change my mind on something, although I would say that, as a result of listening to Dr. Oppy lay out his views several times, I have a deeper appreciation for his view of atheism. When giving arguments for God’s existence, we apologists often point to certain foundational features of the world that seem really unlikely if God doesn’t exist. For example, we might say something like, if God did not exist, it’s really unlikely that the universe would have a beginning, but it does have a beginning, so, it’s likely that God exists. Dr. Oppy responds to arguments like this by claiming that the universe has these foundational features because it has to. These features are, in some sense, necessary. Think what you will about this idea, but I’m finding it difficult to say that it’s an unreasonable view.

Besides the problem of evil, which argument against God’s existence do you find most compelling? Briefly explain why it fails to succeed in the long run.

The most compelling reason to withhold belief in God, apart from the problem of evil, is the so-called Gap Problem. The Gap Problem is essentially this: How do we get from ‘there is a First Cause” all the way to “God exists”? Maybe the First Cause is simply a nonpersonal first state of the universe. Atheists and agnostics argue that the Gap Problem has not been solved. If they’re right, then many of our best arguments don’t hit their target.

My own view is that we do have successful arguments that close the gap. One such argument I find persuasive is the argument from limits. Briefly, it goes like this: In general, limits have causes. There’s a reason, for example, why my computer is limited to 2TB of storage. That limit is explained by the workers and factory that built it. Those workers could have built a computer with less or more storage. Another example: I can’t dunk a basketball. There are many reasons I can’t dunk, some of them sadder than others, but the point is that I am limited in power, and we all know there are reasons I possess this limit. So, in general, limits have causes. But think about it: the First Cause can’t itself be caused (if it had a cause, it wouldn’t be the First Cause). From these two observations, it follows that the First Cause has no fundamental limits (because limits have causes).

The next step in this argument is to realize that imperfection implies limitation. Keanu Reeves is awesome, but he’s not perfectly rational. Someone that lacks perfect rationality is limited in their ability to reason. The underlying principle here is that anything that is less than perfect is limited. However, as I’ve just argued, limits have causes. Thus, the First Cause has no imperfections. Thus, the First Cause is perfect. And God just is a perfect being. Gap closed!

Name a book written by a nonbeliever that you think every Christian evangelist and apologist should read.

There’s a terrific book that just came out by a young agnostic philosopher named Joe Schmid. Joe is one of these “scary smart” people. He’s also just a really awesome and funny person. His book, The Majesty of Reason, has a wonderful chapter arguing against scientism. Scientism is the view that science is the only reliable guide to truth. The book is worth picking up if only for that chapter alone!

You’re a professional photographer and clearly have an eye for aesthetics, so I’m interested in your response to my next question. Do you think the “argument from beauty” has any force in the evangelization of today’s skeptics? Why or why not?

That’s an interesting way to phrase the question! If you had just asked if I thought the argument from beauty was sound, I’d say yes (which is actually a recent development). One of the challenges with the argument from beauty is that our culture loves the idea that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Most people today are aesthetic anti-realists—they don’t think that there are any mind-independent facts about beauty. Claims about what’s beautiful is a matter of personal taste (so many people say).

The reason that this is important is that most people, not just skeptics, are naturally biased against the argument. So while I think the argument from beauty has a lot of force, I’m not keen on using it as a go-to when evangelizing. For that, I prefer cosmological arguments.

I will say, however, I think the argument from beauty should definitely be included in the cumulative case for Christianity.