It’s a good question. There are some approaches to Christian education that would keep dangerous ideas away from the students, and would look at atheist texts purely for the sake of opposition research (Know Your Enemy and How to Beat Them). There are other approaches to Christian education that admit all voices and points of view, but refuse to make meaningful distinctions among them as long as the procedural free-for-all is informative.
Neither of those approaches captures what we’re doing in a Torrey session with authors like Darwin, Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, and Sartre. In this 7-minute Common Room video courtesy of Open Biola, Torrey professors Janelle Aijian (philosophy), Anneke Stassen (history), and Joshua Smith (literature) explore the reasons we do what we do with texts by atheists.
Anneke Stassen: “Common grace is this theological idea that God has given lots of people in history access to truth, even if they don’t follow him as Lord of all.”
Janelle Aijian: “These clear-sighted atheists thinking about the world from their perspective, and actually mourning the death of God, reconciling themselves to what it means to live in a world without God…that highlights to me just exactly what knowing God does for my understanding of myself.”
Joshua Smith: “Sometimes the sophisticated communication camouflages the eighteen-year-old in me that’s still processing these questions… [Students] are in a place where as a human being they can process these questions.”