In a recent discussion about apologetics with a (non-Christian) friend of mine, I referenced a few Christian books written about the history of Christianity. His response to me was that the authors were irreparably biased, because they were themselves Christian.

My friend does have a point; Christian writers will display a bias toward Christianity.

But is that not also true of atheists, or deists, or Muslims, or Hindus, or...anyone? Capitalists, communists, Republicans, Democrats? Who isn't biased? No one. Can anyone find books written in support of certain positions whose authors do not themselves support those positions?

Of course, the solution is not to discard all human knowledge as ideologically tainted, but to seek the truth honestly and from multiple sources.

The problem, however, is not that my friend sought to discard all human knowledge, but that he saw only "religious" knowledge as tainted. In other words, those opposed to Christianity could be objective, but those supporting it could not.

This seems absurd to me.

First of all, everyone is "religious," in the sense that everyone has beliefs about metaphysics. Atheism and agnosticism are each religions of their own. Or, if you prefer to construe "religion" as meaning "traditional ritualized belief systems," I could say that everyone has a belief system of some sort.

The objection is raised (and, in a way, should be raised) that those religious people who choose to defend and write about Christianity are extremely passionate, emotionally invested, and (therefore) invariably biased. The implicit assumption is that atheists and other non-religious people are "rational" and "free-thinking" - objective.

Of course, this ignores the fact that men have hated religion as much as they have loved it. Just as not all religious people are fervently religious, not all non-religious people are God-hating maniacs - but many of the leading atheists sure seem to be.

Sam Harris, one of the most famous modern critics of religion, said, "If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion I would not hesitate to get rid of religion." Does that sound objective to anyone? Richard Dawkins' recent bestseller was entitled The God Delusion, implying that the vast majority of the world's population (along with a long list of some of the modern world's greatest thinkers and people such as Aristotle) was deluded in its religious thinking.

Does this sound reasonable or objective? To me, it does not. As Voltaire said, "Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde." (Look it up! And yes, it cuts both ways.) I would argue that Dawkins and Harris are just as emotionally invested in their positions as any Christian I know; in fact, it is probably just as impossible for them to remain objective as it would be for me.

(Criticism of Dawkins, Harris, and other prominent atheists do not come only from their philosophical opponents. Michael Ruse, a philosopher at Florida State University, said, "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist." Scott Atran, in response to a presentation Harris made, used similar words: "It makes me embarrassed to be a scientist and atheist.")

Of course, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins do not speak for the mass of non-religious people, and they could just as easily point to inflammatory comments made by theists. The problem is that Christianity has a moderate voice, but anti-Christianity seems to have none (or a very quiet one.)

Finally, we must distinguish between authors and the arguments they make. A child who says he cannot breathe underwater is just as correct in his assessment as the biologist who makes the same claim; in other words, the validity of a certain claim (such as "I cannot breathe underwater" or "God exists") is independent of the person making the claim. We can disagree with conclusions, but we cannot dismiss conclusions merely because we disagree with those who make them.

In the end, Harris' and Dawkins' belligerence does them and their arguments disservice.