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Why Atheists Are Such Lousy Debaters
AOL News ^ | Jan 3rd 2008 | Dinesh D'Souza

Posted on 01/04/2008 6:43:04 AM PST by Alex Murphy

I watched the movie "The Great Debaters" last night, and it helped me to understand why atheists are such bad debaters. The movie portrays four students from a little black college in Texas, and shows how, under the tutelage of their pugnacious coach, they went on to defeat Almighty Harvard. Denzel Washington, who plays the coach, says early in the movie that debate is a kind of bloodsport. It's great virtue is that it puts rival ideas up against each other, as argued by people who passionately espouse those ideas, and then it lets the truth emerge through a kind of gladiatorial elimination.

For about three years, it appeared as though the leading atheists were formidable debaters. But the reason was that Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens were selecting weak opponents and then generally giving them a public whipping. In one staged encounter, hardly a debate, Richard Dawkins ambushed televangelist Ted Haggard for a film Dawkins was making. Not only did Dawkins control the format, he also controlled what was shown on film. No wonder Dawkins got the better of that encounter. Harris took on pastor Rick Warren in Newsweek, where Harris made outrageous allegations and Warren basically said that Christians are nice people because they help AIDS victims in Africa. Again, this was hardly a fair fight. Hitchens promoted his book God Is Not Great by traipsing through the South taking on local pastors. Now your typical pastor is not used to debating a versatile and suave character like Hitchens. A few months ago Hitchens embarrassed theologian Alister McGrath in Washington D.C. One problem is that Hitchens has the Richard Burton accent and McGrath sounds like he just came in from shooting birds in the Scottish highlands. Another problem is that McGrath couldn't handle Hitchens' vitriolic accusations and came off looking conciliatory and weak.

Unlike the characters in "The Great Debaters," I was never part of a debate team. I got my debate practice through confronting critics of my various books. Mostly I learned by taking on such seasoned debaters as presidential candidate Walter Mondale, the literary scholar Stanley Fish, and a whole series of civil rights activists from Cornel West to Jesse Jackson. Prior to my debate with Hitchens, he described me as "one of the most formidable debaters on any topic." Richard Dawkins seems to agree: the great Haggard-slayer has somehow gotten cold feet when it comes to debating me. I guess he's afraid that I'll make him look as ridiculous as Haggard.

Then there's Sam Harris, who tells me that debate is not a very useful medium to arrive at the truth. He didn't seem to think that previously, but now it seems that he too is afraid of looking like a public fool. Harris wants to engage in a written debate, and I've agreed, but it should be noted that written debates allow each side to consult experts and therefore they don't reflect the true spirit of debate, which is the clash of ideas embodied in the most articulate representatives of those ideas. I've suggested to Harris a couple of weeks ago that we do both a written and an oral debate, and I'm waiting to hear his response.

Why are the atheists faring so badly in these debates? I think the main reason is that they are so arrogant. Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and Hitchens really think that their position reflects pure reason and that my position reflects "blind faith." If this were really true they should win every single debate, for the same reason that a round-earth advocate should never lose to a flat-earth advocate. In reality there are good arguments on both sides, and I as a believer know this. I know it's hard to make the case for an invisible God and for an afterlife. In short, I know the strength of the argument on the other side. Leading atheists, however, simply do not expect to hear good counterarguments to their position. When they do, they have no idea how to answer them. So they either erupt into jejune name-calling (all to familiar to readers of this blog) or they slowly fall apart (witness what happened to Daniel Dennett).

In reality, I don't have to win debates against atheists; I merely have to draw. Just by coming out even, I defeat the atheist premise that atheism is the position based on reason and religion is the position based on unreason. Even a tie shows that both positions are reasonable. By defeating atheists in debate, however, I have totally exploded the atheist self-pretense. I have shown atheists to be the unreasonable ones, and this is why leading atheists like Dawkins and Harris are now going into hiding. But if these guys are scared to debate me, even in secular university settings where the audience is largely on their side, what does this say about them and about the soundness of their positions? Perhaps Dawkins and company should go and see "The Great Debaters." They might get some useful tips, and they might also get their nerve back.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology
KEYWORDS: antichristian; antitheism; atheism; atheistsupremacists; debate; debaters; debates; dineshdsouza; dsouza; liberals; religion; religiousintolerance
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1 posted on 01/04/2008 6:43:05 AM PST by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

marking


2 posted on 01/04/2008 6:45:41 AM PST by Sam's Army
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To: Alex Murphy; Sam's Army
"It's great virtue is that it puts rival ideas up against each other, as argued by people who passionately espouse those ideas, and then it lets the truth emerge through a kind of gladiatorial elimination."

This is a good summary of debating. There might be any given subject and the participants might be assigned to debate either side of the subject. Thus, one MUST study and understand both sides of an idea in depth in order to debate it intelligently.

3 posted on 01/04/2008 6:56:25 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: Enterprise
Thus, one MUST study and understand both sides of an idea in depth in order to debate it intelligently.

Which is why atheists lose debates.

4 posted on 01/04/2008 6:58:13 AM PST by Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus (Fred Head and proud of it! Fear the Fred!)
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To: Alex Murphy

Honest debates would defeat neoliberalsim like crazy. Too bad honest debate has died in our schools, universities, fraternals, government, politics and media. IMO, it seems to primarily exist in the www (so far).


5 posted on 01/04/2008 6:59:27 AM PST by polymuser (Happy New Year)
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To: Alex Murphy
To debate an atheist is to debate the religion of Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, et al.

It is a matter of faith to conclude that “there is nothing”.

Hitchens and others go beyond denying the existence of God. He denies that Jesus ever existed (at least in any context more real than the Athurian legend) and asserts that the world would be a much better place without Christians. This is an anti-theistic/anti-Christian approach. It goes beyond decided for himself that there is no god and that he can go about his own business with a clear conscience. He pushes to convert people to his belief system. His no god god. He insists that your God is the false god and his is the genuine god of ‘mankind’ as supreme being.

By the way, Hitchens isn't dumb enough to make the same broad assertions against Islam. He knows that there would be jihadists waiting to slit his throat if he publicly travelled the world telling everyone that it was a lie that Mohammed ascended into heaven on a horse. Their religion of peace is likewise not condemned with a statement that the world would be a better place without muslims.

6 posted on 01/04/2008 7:00:10 AM PST by weegee (End the Bush-Bush-Bush-Clinton/Clinton-Clinton/Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton/Clinton Oligarchy in 2008.)
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To: Alex Murphy

considering all the removal of religion from public places, the war on Christmas, and the assault on “under God”, it say Christians are even worse debaters.

If the atheists were that lousy, the results don’t bode well for our abilities either.


7 posted on 01/04/2008 7:04:11 AM PST by Hoodlum91 (I support global warming.)
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To: weegee

You should post that as a comment at the AOL site.


8 posted on 01/04/2008 7:08:06 AM PST by polymuser (Happy New Year)
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To: Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus
Here's a hypothetical then.

The debate is "religion." An atheist draws the affirmative side and must defend religion. He wins the debate by using the arguments supporting religion that he has encountered in other debates. But he's still an atheist. Shouldn't he have lost because he's an atheist?

9 posted on 01/04/2008 7:08:52 AM PST by Enterprise (Those who "betray us" also "Betray U.S." They're called DEMOCRATS!)
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To: Alex Murphy

You can’t debate with a religious person because faith isn’t based on logic, “god” means anything and everything, the Pope is infallible, the Bible is absolute truth.

No one can debate under those circumstances. The debate rules only apply to the atheist, not the Christian. Case in point.

C: Complex things require a designer.
A: Who designed God?
C: God doesn’t need a designer.

Atheists foolish enough to engage in this non-debate deserve what they get. Dinesh is an expert in this stuff.


10 posted on 01/04/2008 7:14:36 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Alex Murphy

I wish to remark again that these atheists never take on or publicly attack the superstitions of non-western “indigenous pipples,” just as “opponents of Western Civilization” never demand that Darwin’s books be removed from study because he is a “dead white male.”


11 posted on 01/04/2008 7:42:51 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Soliton
You can’t debate with a religious person because faith isn’t based on logic

So logic, rightly understood, teaches that the world is self-existent and meaningless? Your being on FR isn't a very good witness to the ultimate meaninglessness of everything. Why not be a true Epicurean, quite worrying about ideology, enjoy the sunsets, avoid suffering, etc.?

BTW, I believe atheism has no place on Free Republic.

12 posted on 01/04/2008 7:51:11 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
BTW, I believe atheism has no place on Free Republic.

I'd give it the same place our Founders would give it in America.

13 posted on 01/04/2008 7:58:01 AM PST by polymuser (Happy New Year)
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To: Soliton

http://www.blog.beyondthefirmament.com/video-presentations/whats-so-great-about-evolution/

bttt


14 posted on 01/04/2008 8:00:10 AM PST by Matchett-PI (Algore - there's not a more priggish, sanctimonious moral scold of a church lady anywhere.)
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To: Alex Murphy
The atheist argument almost always rests on a series of logical fallacies. Atheists will argue that "religion" is wrong, because "religion" is bad (this is a subtle form of ad hominem), because specific religions killed people (this is category error/false generalization), and killing people is bad (why? -- begging the question).

When pressed on the millions of people killed by avowedly atheist regimes in the USSR, China, and elsewhere, they will attempt to claim that those regimes in fact practiced a "religion"! (Evidently militant atheistic socialism qualifies as a "religion", if atheists think they can use it to score points.)

That last tack is beyond logical fallacy and into insane territory.

The glaring fallacy is the category error. Nobody has ever been killed in the name of religion, just as nobody has ever painted a house "color". Religion and color are categories, not entities.

People have been killed in the name of specific religions, just as houses can be painted specific colors. However, if 1, 10, or a million people have been killed in the name of religion "A", that proves absolutely nothing about the truth or falsehood of religion "B". (Strictly speaking, it's not a slam-dunk that it proves anything about the truth or falsehood of religion "A", either.)

15 posted on 01/04/2008 8:01:39 AM PST by Campion
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To: Zionist Conspirator
BTW, I believe atheism has no place on Free Republic.

I'm not an atheist, but I can't stand religionists who abandon faith and try to debate with logic. Besides I too am a zionist.

I will happily debate as if I'm an atheist if you like though

I'm glad you don't make the rules around here. Religious bigotry doesn't belong on FR or any other republic

16 posted on 01/04/2008 8:01:57 AM PST by Soliton
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To: polymuser
BTW, I believe atheism has no place on Free Republic.

I'd give it the same place our Founders would give it in America.

LOL! Our "rationalist" friend doesn't think creationism has any place here. Isn't it amazing the ideals people come up with when they insist that the world, and their lives, are objectively meaningless? Constantly crusading, preaching "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts." We might as well be back living under the "Tyrant of Heaven" with such bossiness, but somehow the very fact that the bossing is being done by someone other than the Creator of the Universe is supposed to make it "reasonable!"

17 posted on 01/04/2008 8:03:28 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Alex Murphy
...selecting weak opponents...

That from the article. IMO, Christians are weak opponents in general because they just don't exercise the defense of their faith. The few that do aren't supported. Sitting on hands with mouth closed -- the typical posture for the great majority of Christians. Is end time prophecy the cause of such apathy?

18 posted on 01/04/2008 8:08:40 AM PST by polymuser (Happy New Year)
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To: Campion
The atheist argument almost always rests on a series of logical fallacies

The problem is mainly with definitions. If something is said to exist, it will have characteristics and properties. The first place to start a debate on the existance of God is with defining what we mean by "God".

19 posted on 01/04/2008 8:12:24 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Soliton
I'm not an atheist, but I can't stand religionists who abandon faith and try to debate with logic.

In other words, you can't stand logically consistent religionists? So, you're a deist or a double-truth advocate then?

Besides I too am a zionist.

So you believe Mashiach is going to come and annihilate the `Amaleqites, build the Third Temple, and then the dead will be resurrected? How does an evolutionist come off believing such outlandish things?

I will happily debate as if I'm an atheist if you like though

I'm sure you'd be more than happy to "pretend" to be an atheist. I'm equally sure you wouldn't know how to advocate the other position.

I'm glad you don't make the rules around here. Religious bigotry doesn't belong on FR or any other republic

I know! What I don't know is where "rationalists" get all these values of theirs they cherish so deeply! After all, did the big bang give a flying frick whether or not billions of years in the future there would be religious bigotry? Does the vast universe weep tears if someone insults someone else's religion? I'm trying to understand here why "thou shalt not kill" makes any more sense in such a world than "it is forbidden to partake of the sacrifice before the blood has been sprinkled on the altar." BTW, I notice with some confusion that apparently one can only be guilty of "religious bigotry" if one is insulting one "irrational" religion from the perspective of another. Rationalists seem to be able to make any sort of insult and somehow magically escape the label of "bigot."

20 posted on 01/04/2008 8:21:37 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Would you care for an honest debate? One without insult based on logic? I can show you how a rationalist arrives at a moral life. I will also be happy to quote scripture with you and explain the big bang.

Do you know what a soliton is?


21 posted on 01/04/2008 8:31:57 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Soliton
Would you care for an honest debate? One without insult based on logic? I can show you how a rationalist arrives at a moral life. I will also be happy to quote scripture with you and explain the big bang.

You seem to labor under the delusion that because you are a "rationalist" you are incapable of the "crime" of insulting others. I'm sorry, but your intitial post on this forum was insulting. If by "a debate free of insult" you mean one where you are free to put down your "irrational" opponent from your lofty throne while your opponent can't say a word without "proving" what a "moron" he is, then no.

I would, however, like to understand how a "rationalist" arrives at a moral life--"morality" being defined strictly as submission to the decrees of the Creator, and not merely as doing good or avoiding doing harm for their own sake.

The only think I'd like to know about the "big bang" is what atheists believe caused it, and if nothing caused it, how is it explicable?

22 posted on 01/04/2008 8:38:19 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
I would, however, like to understand how a "rationalist" arrives at a moral life--"morality" being defined strictly as submission to the decrees of the Creator, and not merely as doing good or avoiding doing harm for their own sake.

Define "Creator"

23 posted on 01/04/2008 8:43:35 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Alex Murphy

Douglas Wilson left Hitchens looking like something that just came out of the shredder.


24 posted on 01/04/2008 8:44:15 AM PST by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Maybe atheists propose these ideas we describe and maybe logic means some of these things we think, but that doesn’t take away from my experience of them. To say something has no place maybe like saying the future maybe not important. Just because you can’t find an answer to a question doesn’t imply you should not attempt to do such. I’ve read Harris’ book and to be fair he makes valid points but they resemble to me the same erroneous conclusion that religious people come to in fundamentalism. He’s a materialist fundamentalist and anyone that doesn’t understand that this type of filter compares to religious fundamentalism doesn’t understand “belief systems” or BS for short. I learn much from him by reading his thoughts, but no more than if I were to read a great work of fiction, to think his symbols jotted down on paper are more real than the bibles doesn’t help me understand reality anymore than following the bible to understand reality. Why should words even matter if they serve only to lock me in a mental jail. Maybe reading these various people can help one figure out that nobody can claim to be expert in anything and that infinite possibilities abound, not limited by anything but our imaginations. I enjoy reading all POV so why would I not like hearing ideas that I am not supposed to read about? By saying something maybe not welcome maybe like saying I don’t like you or I hate you, If my beliefs are strong then nothing you say will matter, why would I fear the atheists in free republic? No, they don’t scare me and no I don’t care if you beleive in God but why do you insist I must follow you, that maybe why I am displeased with the notion of religion. By abdicating responsibility onto a leader we give away our ability to take responsibility for ourselves, that maybe what people like Harris are trying to communicate, that disempowerment can lead to insane actions in an attempt to reconcile discontinuity. Scientists can be accused of their own inquistions as well, in a honest world nobody gets fully out from under the blame, Harris either ignores this or doesn’t even have awareness of such matters. The same can be said for very religious people, some simply are unaware of the pain they cause others, because in their minds burning them at a stake maybe saving their souls, that’s not an improvement from injecting children with radiation, Harris doesn’t understand this yet.


25 posted on 01/04/2008 8:47:51 AM PST by bubbatrouba
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Maybe atheists propose these ideas we describe and maybe logic means some of these things we think, but that doesn’t take away from my experience of them. To say something has no place maybe like saying the future maybe not important. Just because you can’t find an answer to a question doesn’t imply you should not attempt to do such. I’ve read Harris’ book and to be fair he makes valid points but they resemble to me the same erroneous conclusion that religious people come to in fundamentalism. He’s a materialist fundamentalist and anyone that doesn’t understand that this type of filter compares to religious fundamentalism doesn’t understand “belief systems” or BS for short. I learn much from him by reading his thoughts, but no more than if I were to read a great work of fiction, to think his symbols jotted down on paper are more real than the bibles doesn’t help me understand reality anymore than following the bible to understand reality. Why should words even matter if they serve only to lock me in a mental jail. Maybe reading these various people can help one figure out that nobody can claim to be expert in anything and that infinite possibilities abound, not limited by anything but our imaginations. I enjoy reading all POV so why would I not like hearing ideas that I am not supposed to read about? By saying something maybe not welcome maybe like saying I don’t like you or I hate you, If my beliefs are strong then nothing you say will matter, why would I fear the atheists in free republic? No, they don’t scare me and no I don’t care if you beleive in God but why do you insist I must follow you, that maybe why I am displeased with the notion of religion. By abdicating responsibility onto a leader we give away our ability to take responsibility for ourselves, that maybe what people like Harris are trying to communicate, that disempowerment can lead to insane actions in an attempt to reconcile discontinuity. Scientists can be accused of their own inquistions as well, in a honest world nobody gets fully out from under the blame, Harris either ignores this or doesn’t even have awareness of such matters. The same can be said for very religious people, some simply are unaware of the pain they cause others, because in their minds burning them at a stake maybe saving their souls, that’s not an improvement from injecting children with radiation, Harris doesn’t understand this yet.


26 posted on 01/04/2008 8:47:58 AM PST by bubbatrouba
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To: Soliton
Define "Creator"

Um . . . the creator of the universe? And if you're going to say "the word 'universe' includes everything in existence, including this theoretical creator, so He simply a part of this 'universe' that he allegedly 'created'" . . . we'll just call it by its Hebrew name: ha`olam. As a matter of fact, it may even be `olamim, since HaShem is sometimes called Ribbono Shel `Olam (singular) and sometimes Ribbon Kol-Ha`Olamim (plural).

How about the phrase "qoneh Shamayim va'Aretz, which literally means the "acquirer" or "purchaser" of the "universe." Meaning, HaShem "acquired" the heavens and the earth by creating them.

Is this the purpose of all this to demonstrate that logically there is no "creator of all that is" since G-d Himself would be a part of that and that therefore we're all following G-dless, rational morality whether we realize it or not? Or does your whole argument rest on the assertion that G-d being "the author of His own Existence" is no different than than the universe being the author of its own existence?

Please take time to answer my quetion about the big bang.

27 posted on 01/04/2008 8:54:27 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Since we are using the G-d convention and you are a zionist, does this mean we are restricting our description of the Creator to the G-d of Moses, the G-d of the Pentateuch?


28 posted on 01/04/2008 8:58:14 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Soliton
Since we are using the G-d convention and you are a zionist, does this mean we are restricting our description of the Creator to the G-d of Moses, the G-d of the Pentateuch?

We're talking about HaShem. Your question is somewhat loaded as it assumes higher critical assertions and implies that the G-d of Moses and "the Pentateuch" is not necessarily the G-d of Abraham, the Talmud, or the 'Acharonim.

I take it that you can't answer any of my questions until you can nail down what the "creator" is?

29 posted on 01/04/2008 9:02:47 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: bubbatrouba

I don’t mean to treat your very deeply thought out words lightly, but paragraphs are your friend. They would make your post easier to read, digest, and respond to.


30 posted on 01/04/2008 9:04:50 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Dear friend,

I am simply trying to determine the tradition from which your understanding of the Creator is taken. It would seem obvious that you are jewish from your screen name, but as I mentioned, I too am a zionist, but not jewish.


31 posted on 01/04/2008 9:35:10 AM PST by Soliton
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To: LeGrande

Have you seen this?


32 posted on 01/04/2008 9:37:26 AM PST by fproy2222
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To: Soliton
Dear friend,

I am simply trying to determine the tradition from which your understanding of the Creator is taken. It would seem obvious that you are jewish from your screen name, but as I mentioned, I too am a zionist, but not jewish.

I am a Noachide.

You said you would explain how "rationalists" arrive at morals and the Big Bang. With regard to the first I have asked you to do so. With regard to the second I have asked you (from the atheist perspective) what caused it, or, if nothing caused it, how is it explicable? In return you have done nothing but asked me to define "G-d." Is my answer to this question part of your answer to my own questions to you? Are you going to prove to me that (since a self-existent G-d is allegedly no more logical than a self-existent universe) I am in fact myself a "rationalist who doesn't realize it?" How would this answer jibe with your labeling such people as myself as "irrational?"

I have defined G-d as "Qoneh Shamayim va'Aretz," the "acquirer of Heaven and Earth."

Now, are you going to take this information and from it explain how "rationalists" such as yourself arrive at "morality" and explain the Big Bang, or are you not?

33 posted on 01/04/2008 9:43:32 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
I have defined G-d as "Qoneh Shamayim va'Aretz," the "acquirer of Heaven and Earth."

Obviously, one cannot "acquire" something that didn't already exist. In what sense can an entity that acquires an existing thing be called "Creator"?

34 posted on 01/04/2008 9:55:44 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Zionist Conspirator

I believe your name to be Derek, am I wrong?

Find a faith and hold onto it brother. Don’t agonize over the iota’s. My only point was that faith, not logic is G-d’s way. Logic will lead you away from faith.


35 posted on 01/04/2008 10:13:45 AM PST by Soliton
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To: Alex Murphy
Nice. I've always been a fan of Dinesh D'Souza.

In case you didn't know--he's Catholic...
36 posted on 01/04/2008 10:35:44 AM PST by Antoninus (If you want the national GOP to look more like the Massachusetts GOP, vote for Flip Romney)
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To: Soliton
Obviously, one cannot "acquire" something that didn't already exist. In what sense can an entity that acquires an existing thing be called "Creator"?

He acquired them by creating them.

I believe your name to be Derek, am I wrong?

I'd answer that, but ever since that Clinton crony came on FR about eight or nine years ago and started screaming for everyone to reveal their identities (and I used to show my e-mail) I've made it a policy to never say what my name is or isn't.

Find a faith and hold onto it brother. Don’t agonize over the iota’s. My only point was that faith, not logic is G-d’s way. Logic will lead you away from faith.

Well . . . color me confused. Your first post was attacking religion and extolling the logic of atheism. Now you're against logical atheism and clinging like a little child to "faith" disconnected from objective reality? Man, that's "double truth" ever I ever heard it. I suppose your view of a good religious person is one who recites texts and performs rituals without believing in the facticity of the words he is reciting--sort of a ritual pantomime. This is the heart of Eliade's "myth and ritual" school of religion is it not? That the ritual preceded, and transcends, the "myth" which later grew up to explain it? I on the other hand regard a clergyman who recites words he doesn't believe merely because it's part of his ethno-cultural heritage to be a hypocrite. As Flannery O'Connor said, "if it's a symbol, the hell with it."

Next time you want to converse, perhaps I should ask you to define "morality," "good," and "evil."

Well, today's the short day. (And for some reason FR is loading very slowly on my computer today). Later!

37 posted on 01/04/2008 11:18:25 AM PST by Zionist Conspirator ( . . . Bo' 'el Par`oh; ve'amarta 'elayv, Koh 'amar HaShem: shallach 'et-`ammi veya`avduni!)
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To: All
What's So Great About Christianity?

There's a link to D'Souza's book and a podcast of him speaking on this topic at the link above.

38 posted on 01/04/2008 12:23:27 PM PST by TheDon
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To: Soliton
You can’t debate with a religious person because faith isn’t based on logic....

I disagree.

From the earliest instant, when even time itself had just come into being, the symmetry of the creation event was broken, and nuclear strong and weak/electromagnetic forces somehow therein also gave rise to gravitation which, though exceptionally weak by the other three, nonetheless gradually coalesced their parts into various galactic types and structures.

As we live in one out of billions of those spiral galaxies, two thirds of the way out from its dense center between whirling arms which are relatively debris and dust free; where metals are fairly well concentrated, but rarer in the Milky Way’s outer reaches…. Where too, were we further in, we wouldn’t be able to see the universe outside.

That we live in the habitable zone of a single G2V star, in a system with a large outer planet to sweep up a considerable amount of debris that might otherwise be drawn to the inner solar system and collide with Earth.

That we have a magnetic field which protects us from too much cosmic and solar radiation, and allows us too – geometrically by the more distant stars – to navigate around our planet. That we have a moon massive enough to stabilize our planetary axis, giving us tides, the seasons, and which perhaps also couples gravitationally to assist plate tectonics in recycling our oceanic crust and mantle, yielding a balance of nitrogen/oxygen and carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. That the laws of physics at both the macro- and micro levels should be so fine tuned - and unified! - allowing these processes to be carried out at all.

That we are alive in such a system!

The odds of just these, even omitting myriad other "coincidences" make it seem - to me - somehow inconceivable that there isn’t God who – being God sets the values of good and evil, and cares that we should prefer that Good.

"If I knew God I’d be Him." Though I’ll take Pascal’s Bet that He’s there.

39 posted on 01/04/2008 12:43:31 PM PST by onedoug
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To: onedoug

You are describing the Anthropic Principle. The odds of winning the powerball are two million to one before you play. After you win, the probability is 100%.

We have won the life lottery. We may be the only living things in the universe.


40 posted on 01/04/2008 2:46:22 PM PST by Soliton
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To: Soliton
"We have won the life lottery. We may be the only living things in the universe."

I read a science article about a scientist who wanted to show the probablility there IS other life in the universe. First he isolated 23 factors of the planet earth absolutely necessary for life. The he began studing our current knowledge of the universe to determine how many other planets may contain all of these factors. He gave up when he ascertained that another planet with even 5 or 6 of these factors was essentially a statistical impossibility.

41 posted on 01/04/2008 2:55:14 PM PST by joebuck
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To: Soliton
Actually, the odds are probably closer to several million to one for each factor listed above, so for intelligent life.... Though simple forms may be abundant.

Though we've never been able to figure out how life began, thus also to discover it's ends.

I mentioned that I'd take Pascal's Bet, in which the odds are far better than the atheist's none.

42 posted on 01/04/2008 3:30:49 PM PST by onedoug
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To: joebuck
He gave up when he ascertained that another planet with even 5 or 6 of these factors was essentially a statistical impossibility.

It was a fool's errand anyway. We don't know why or how life formed on Earth. Using my lottery analogy, it would be like a scientist trying to figure out why why a certain person won by analyzing how close the guy lived to the 7-11.

43 posted on 01/04/2008 3:34:47 PM PST by Soliton
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To: fproy2222

No, thanks for the ping : )


44 posted on 01/04/2008 3:41:52 PM PST by LeGrande
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To: Zionist Conspirator
BTW, I believe atheism has no place on Free Republic.

I am a conservative Atheist. Why do you believe that I should not be able to voice my opinion here? Has the conservative movement become faith based?

45 posted on 01/04/2008 3:51:16 PM PST by LeGrande
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To: Soliton; onedoug
We have won the life lottery.

Yeah, but I think it might've been rigged in our favor. ;)

46 posted on 01/05/2008 1:06:03 AM PST by Zero Sum (Liberalism: The damage ends up being a thousand times the benefit! (apologies to Rabbi Benny Lau))
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To: Matchett-PI

A god who requires billions of years is different than a God who creates ex nihilo, complete.

And she said to them “do whatever he says.”

So they took the jars, filled them with water and waited. Toward the end of the wedding one of the waiters said, “Hey. This is starting to taste a bit like flavored water.”

The following week he said, “Hmmmm....grapish Kool-Aid.”

A year later he pronounced: “Ahhh....Mogan David.”


47 posted on 01/05/2008 7:01:25 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain! True Supporters of Our Troops Support the Necessity of their Sacrifice!)
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To: xzins

“REQUIRES”? :)


48 posted on 01/06/2008 7:39:37 AM PST by Matchett-PI (Algore - there's not a more priggish, sanctimonious moral scold of a church lady anywhere.)
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To: Matchett-PI

Yep. Requires.

And that’s what my brain keeps going back to. I can’t avoid the thought. I’ve even tried to be a theistic evolutionist, and I just can’t get over that hurdle.

It changes for me who I think God is.

Do you see what I’m saying?


49 posted on 01/06/2008 1:44:40 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain! True Supporters of Our Troops Support the Necessity of their Sacrifice!)
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To: Alex Murphy

Thanks for posting.


50 posted on 01/06/2008 1:53:51 PM PST by FreedomProtector
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