The Believer-Nonbeliever Dialogue: nurturing trust

In response to an invitation from SEARCH to write on atheist-theist dialogue in the Irish context, Peter Admirand suggested he co-write an article with a non-believer. His contribution below is followed by one by Andrew Fiala, an American philosopher from Fresno State University, whom he invited unconditionally to share this space.

Peter Admirand writes:

TRUST is at the root of any dialogue and partnership. Trust involves risk, the real possibility of disagreement and being challenged; but there is no growth, no faith, no trust, no possible partnership without those components. I had never met Andy Fiala, but he intrigued me as a nonbeliever writing philosophically sound, provocative, and wide-ranging material on ethics, tolerance, nonviolence, dialogue and religious pluralism, among other topics.1 I proposed to him that I would write something on the issue of theist-atheist dialogue and he could respond however he felt best. Trust….

Andrew Fiala replies to Peter Admirand

I AM THANKFUL to Peter Admirand for giving me the opportunity to think about his work and to offer some thoughts from the point of view of a ‘non-believer’. We find common ground in thinking itself, which is where thoughtful belief and thoughtful non-belief meet.

I appreciate his explanation of how dialogue humbles and inspires.15 He understands the complexity of the dialogical process, recognising that secularists, atheists, and diverse religious believers can find common ground. “Believers need the tug of doubt and questioning of the atheist as much as non-believers need the hope, spirit, and optimism of theists,” he writes.