My Opening Statement With Dinesh D'Souza

My 15 minute opening statement: "Does the Christian God Exist?"

I’m going to offer several arguments based on facts we should all agree on that show the Christian God does not exist. My claim is that these facts will force Dinesh into arguing over and over for what I’ll call the Dumb and Dumber Defense, based on the movie with that title starring Jim Carrey. In every single case Dinesh’s response will be pretty much the same. Rather than admit his faith is improbable, he will be forced to claim that what he’s defending is still possible despite these facts. But remember, it’s possible that Jim Carrey could’ve gotten the girl of his dreams in the movie too. The girl said he had a “one in a million” chance at doing so.

Isn’t it obvious that had Dinesh been born of Muslim rather than Christian parents he would be defending Allah tonight with the same passion? I wasn’t born skeptical. None of us were. We were all raised as believers. We initially believed whatever our parents told us. If they said there is a Santa Claus, then he existed until they said otherwise. If we were told there was a god named Zeus we would’ve believed it. The problem is that our parents never told us the Christian God didn’t exist because their parents never told them.

So given the proliferation of so many other religions and sects around the world we must learn to be critical of what we were raised to believe in our Christian culture. After all, brainwashed people do not know that they are brainwashed. To do this we must apply the same level of skepticism to our own inherited religion as we do to the religions of others. When Christians understand why they dismiss all other religions, they will understand why I dismiss theirs.

I think there is enough evidence to settle these religious disputes though, but only if people demand hard evidence for what they believe, like I do. Christians likewise demand hard evidence when they argue against other religions by claiming they lack it. When it comes to Christianity I agree with the Protestant criticisms of Catholicism as well as Catholic criticisms of Protestants. And I agree with the fundamentalist criticisms of liberals as well as liberal criticisms of fundamentalists. I agree with Muslim and Jewish criticisms of Christianity, as well as Christian criticisms of other world religions. When they criticize each other I think they’re all right! What’s left is the demise of Christianity and religion as a whole.

The sad fact is that believers do not dispassionately evaluate the evidence for their culturally inherited religious faith. It’s crystal clear from a number of psychological studies that people are heavily influenced by non-rational factors and woefully inadequate at evidential reasoning skills; all of us, about most everything. All of us believe what we prefer to be true and we defend that which brings us Power, Money and/or Sex, what the three masters of suspicion, Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud argued. Since we can so easily be led to believe and defend what we want to be true, we must insist on having hard evidence for what we’ll accept. We should demand this of the Christian God just as surely as Christians demand it of the other gods they reject. It’s that simple. If God supposedly created us with minds that require evidence before we accept something, then it stands to reason he wouldn’t create us this way and not also provide us what we need to believe.

In Dinesh’s book, What’s So Great About Christianity, he presents very little positive evidence for the Christian God that excludes alternative conclusions. I’m very surprised he doesn’t even realize this. He argues that most people in our western culture believe, that Christianity is growing in the world, and that Christianity is unique. Of course, these claims are all at true. Tell us something we don’t know next time, okay? He also claims it’s beneficial to believe, although in the process Dinesh paints an unbalanced and sometimes ignorant rosy picture of Christianity, especially when it comes to the basis for morality, the origins of democracy and science. It is not true Christianity can take credit for all that’s good in our society. And it is not true Christianity caused no serious harms either. Human morality and politics are human inventions which have evolved over time, just as our scientific understandings of the world. It’s that simple. But this is pretty much all you’ll find in his book.

Religions are human inventions too. And they too evolve. They are inextricably linked with their given cultures. So it stands to reason that any given religion is beneficial to its particular culture because as a human invention it helped to make that culture in the first place, even if they could all be greatly improved with a healthy dose of skepticism. Just ask an Amish person if his religion has social benefits, or a Buddhist in Thailand, or a Shintoist in Japan, and they will all say it does, and that their culture is better than ours, and that this shows their religion is true. And it’s patently obvious that non-Christian cultures, most notably ancient Greece and Rome, have done just fine without any Christian influence at all.

So there just isn’t anything in Dinesh’s book that shows his particular evolving branch of Christianity is true or any of its many other different culturally produced sects. All we find in it are things that, even if shown to be true, are consistent with his faith. But just showing that something is consistent with his faith does not show his faith is probable. That’s a huge non-sequitur. For instance, even if Dinesh can successfully argue that our universe began to exist and that this is consistent with his belief that there is a creator, so what? Such a belief is shared by other monotheistic religions and/or deism. Such a belief is consistent with a god who created this world as nothing more than a scientific experiment who thinks of us as rats in a maze, wondering what we will conclude about it all and how we will live our lives. Such a belief is consistent with a creator god who guides the universe ultimately toward an evil purpose, but has chosen to maliciously present himself as benevolent to play a trick on us. Such a belief is consistent with a divine tinkerer who is learning as he goes. Such a belief is also consistent with a god who created the quantum wave fluctuation that produced this universe as his last act before committing suicide. For once we allow supernatural explanations into our equations then any god will do. And this is why scientists cannot punt to theistic explanations like this.

But in fact cosmologists today agree that quantum mechanics prevented there ever being a cosmic singularity. The universe was never an infinitesimal point in space-time, and so there is no basis to assume that time began with the big bang. Cosmologists have published several plausible scenarios by which our universe appeared by quantum tunneling from a pre-existing universe and that time, had no beginning.

In his book Dinesh offers nothing by way of a response to these other scenarios and he seems unaware of the work of cosmologists for the last 20 years. It’s as if he is oblivious to these things, because his faith has a brainwashing and blinding effect. And while he does argue miracles are possible he offers very little to support the reliability of the Bible or evidence to show that a miracle actually occurred in the ancient biblical world.

But when it comes to the Bible isn’t it obvious that it was written from the perspective of a barbaric, superstitious and pre-scientific people? Who else would believe that god-like beings could co-habit with the daughters of men, or that Jacob could increase his flock of sheep using mandrakes, or that the magicians in Moses’ day could turn their staffs into snakes, or that people actually responded to a challenge to call down fire from the sky, or cast lots in a boat during a storm to see which god sent it? Can you imagine any judge today deciding a case by casting lots? And if Balaam walked into a bar and said his ass talked Dinesh would not believe it until Balaam made his ass talk. And neither would you. We also find genocide and child sacrifice commanded by the tribal god in the Bible, and the warning that an eternal punishment in hell awaits those who don’t believe. There are a lot of reasons not to believe the Bible: It’s inconsistent with itself, not supported by archaeology, contains fairy tales, failed prophecies, and many forgeries.

Isn’t it clear that evidence from the historical past is inadequate for believing in specific doctrines that cannot be rationally explained? Historical evidence is considered so poor as evidence that all philosophers of history agree there is no such thing as objective historical writing. History is all in the mind, a few have said. At the very least it seems that almost anything can be rationally denied in the past even if it happened. And this applies even more forcefully to extraordinary claims of miracles in the past. Historians must write history from their perspective. They cannot do otherwise. They must judge the past by the standards of today, and by today’s standards miracles do not happen. After all, a report of a miracle is not the same thing as experiencing one. Even if miracles have taken place we have no reason to believe they have. Dinesh must meet an almost impossible double burden of proof here. For in order to argue an event is miraculous he must first show the event is extremely improbable given natural laws. But then he must turn right around and claim that this same extremely improbable event took place anyway.

On top of this there is the dubious nature of the doctrines derived from these miraculous claims. They cannot be rationally explained, like the relationship of the three persons in the trinity, the logical coherence of the incarnation of a person who is 100% God and 100% man, how the death of Jesus can possibly atone for sins, and how there can be a resurrected body. So if given the choice between believing in the poor evidence of history, or in following the sheer logical improbability with regard to these doctrines, I must go with reason every single time.

And isn’t it a no-brainer that if God exists he has not communicated his perfect will to the Church down through the centuries? A good foreknowing God could easily have communicated better, such that there would be no Inquisition, witch hunts, heresy trials, female subjugation, Crusades, or institutional slavery. All he had to do is replace the tenth commandment, which is a thought crime about coveting, with something like this: “Thou shalt not kill people with different beliefs, treat women as inferior, steal land in my name, or own slaves.” And he could have communicated doctrine better too. During the eight French wars of Religion and the Thirty Years War eight million Christians killed each other, in large part over doctrine! It was a Christian bloodbath that decimated Germany. Catholics killed Protestants, Protestants killed Catholics, and Protestants killed each other with a religious fever that would make Hitler jealous. If they had modern weapons of war we can only imagine what would’ve happened to Europe as a whole. All Jesus had to do was clearly say he was establishing a church and who was to run it. All Jesus had to clearly say was whether or not the Eucharist was literally his flesh and blood. It’s that simple. Out of this conflict religious tolerance was born and with it the basis for modern democracy, something we find precursors of in ancient Greece.

If God is perfectly good, all knowing, and all powerful, then the amount of massive suffering in this world is as close to an empirical refutation of the Christian concept of God as is possible. If God exists then like a good parent he would not allow us to abuse the freedom he gave us. The giver of a gift is blameworthy if he gives gifts to those whom he knows will terribly abuse those gifts. Any mother who gives a razor blade to a two-year-old is culpable if that child hurts himself or others with it. Good mothers only give their children more and more freedom to do what they want so long as they are responsible with their freedom. It’s that simple.

If God exists then the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people should never have occurred. If God had prevented it, none of us would even know he kept it from happening, precisely because it didn’t happen. This goes for the disaster in Haiti too.

Furthermore, the amount of animal suffering is atrocious as they prey on one another to feed themselves when a good God could’ve created us all as vegetarians in the first place. God could’ve created all human beings with one color of skin too. Then there would be no racism or race based slavery. God could’ve created us with much stronger immune systems such that there would be no pandemics which have decimated whole populations of people.

The major Christian objection is that if God had created the universe differently it would upset the present ecosystem and/or go against the laws of nature. But as David Hume said, it seems patently obvious that the operation of the world by natural laws “seems nowise necessary for God.” An omnipotent God could do perpetual miracles, and if not, why not? Only if Christians expect very little from an omnipotent God can they defend his ways.

There are other things I could argue, but I’ll stop here. Dinesh knows my answers to nearly all of his objections. I suspect he will offer his objections anyway, in hopes few people here have read my book.

63 comments:

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Same ole rhetoric...probability...yea right!

Genetic fallacy! Yes!...thanks John

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

C'mon John..."everyone writing down what happened" is the only way to confirm or verify history????

What kind of argument is that? That's not how history is even done...c'mon!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John: "I want scientific evidence of life after death"

Dinesh: "Here's scientifically proven evidence regarding people who's brains have died scientifically and come back to life"

John: "No...that's not the evidence I wanted..."

What a GAG!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

THANK YOU DINESH...Disagreement among Christians on Christian doctrine DOES NOT cancel the TRUTH of Christianity out!!!

THANK YOU for sharing that FACT of truth!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

"we are all ignorant, most of us about most things!"

"we need hard evidence"

Dinesh just got finished telling you that thoughts offer no empirical or measurable evidence of their existence and yet we acknowledge their existence based on internal affirmation...

I would not in a million years followed up with something like that John.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Dinesh: (John) "Passionately obsessed with this topic and that seems to suggest that you are trying to get away from something"

John says over and over he needs not just evidence, but "hard evidence"...

This goes to a new level John.

I just wanted to write a few thigns as I heard them. Sorry I couldn't be there I really wanted to meet you.

Toby said...

This is a great opener... I loved it. I find the christian god a hilarious concept. This highlights how absurd that imaginary being is. I had a muslim co-worker once say to me, "What ever you say about Allah, he's not. He's better than what you say." Christians play a similar game. For example, they say that god is all-loving, but there is vast needless suffering. They say god is all-powerful, but anyone can easily demonstrate that medicine is far more powerful than prayer. Christians say that god is all-knowing, but in reality they mean, "We don't know anything about god." If you ask a christian, "Do you know the mind of god?" They say no, that he is unfathomable. But then they say, "I know god. I have personal relationship with him." Maybe its like a dog knows its owner. So, using their own theology, christians don't know jack shit, but they'll gladly tell you how wrong you are about god.

Okay, venting over for me... Again, wonderful opener John!!!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Obviously Toby DIDN't see the debate---heeeeheeeeheeee!!!!

Oliver said...

I appreciate your opening. If God wanted us to be of one religion, then God has done almost nothing to maintain a consistent message through the ages.

I look forward to a video of the debate.

Lord of Numa said...

I was very pleased to be able to see the debate this evening. It was great to be able to hear you speak and defend your views.

Unfortunately, your opponent proved to be a lousy debater. I was very disappointed that he consistently turned to jokes and cheap attacks rather than attempt to refute your points. He attacked you for making a wide range of seemingly disconnected points, and yet failed to make any of his own. He danced around the topics with his wordplay and charm, without actually saying anything. The points he did try to make seemed to have been based on logical fallacies or a poor understanding of science. It was absolutely discussing, so much so that I was unable to stay for the entirety of the debate.

Again, it was great to hear you speak, and I apologize that you were given a weak-minded opponent.

Eldnar said...

Ok, John you should be THOROUGHLY embarrassed after that debate. You made me cringe. You're always talking about the strength of your arguments and how powerful they are, and yet Dinesh took you to school.

You're a nice guy John, but WAAAAY out of your league. Basically you're an internet keyboard warrior, and an infant in debate. Almost every single argument you presented was an appeal to authority, sprinkled with ad hominem, with a heavy dose of ranting. You don't have (and desperately need) unique scholarship. Please don't talk about how you want to debate William Lane Craig. I *PROMISE* he's not scared of you IN THE SLIGHTEST. The reason he won't debate you...it would be a TOTAL waste of his time.

No wonder you left Christianity, you apparently understood Christianity as poorly as you do atheism (your arguments made this apparent). Next you'll be a Buddhist with a website debunking atheism AND Christianity.

Lord of Numa said...

absolutely disgusting*

Cole said...

Well, I don't hold to the Bible because of the cruel and unusual punishments that are found in it. Especially the dashing of infants against the rocks. But it is now beyond reasonable doubt that the universe had a beginning. Most cosmologists would agree with that. There's only a handful that still try to deny it. It is now an irrational belief to deny that the universe had a beginning. D'Souza is right about the universe having a beginning. I still believe in a Creator.

Ronny said...

Humans create objects.

Never see that in nature.


Everything that is living "replicates" itself. Does not create.


Inanimate objects come from previous inanimate objects. Build upon small building blocks.Don't create.

Creating pattern is only associated with human inventions. Not the natural world.

Ronny said...

"No wonder you left Christianity, you apparently understood Christianity as poorly as you do atheism (your arguments made this apparent). Next you'll be a Buddhist with a website debunking atheism AND Christianity."



Wow. This guy is a clown.

unkle e said...

Well John, I started reading your opening statement, but most of what you said in the opening paragraphs about christians and christian belief were not true for me as a christian and my beliefs. So I skipped to the last few, and it was the same. Yet you said it all so confidently.

When non-believers poorly understand the faith I believe in, I have to wonder what it is they have rejected - probably I would have rejected that too! But it ends up reinforcing my belief, because the counter arguments are so often irrelevant, so I guess that's a positive!

Best wishes to you.

Christian said...

I didn't see the debate but "thoughts offer no empirical or measurable evidence of their existence and yet we acknowledge their existence based on internal affirmation..." If that was the quality of argument D'Souza brought... Wow.

Is this the same affirmation that every religion since the dawn of humanity has used to defend itself? That doesn't prove Christianity so much as a humans' ability to convince themselves of anything.

And... didn't they just detect thought in a dude in a persistent vegetative state? And his brain was answering yes and no to questions? Doesn't that imply some way to measure and detect thoughts? I'm just saying...

I can't vouch for how John did, though I enjoyed his opener. But that argument is total crap. It's wrong about our ability to confirm thoughts (brain activity) and it confuses the existence of those thoughts with the quality of their contents...

Landon Hedrick said...

Eldnar,

I spoke with Craig personally and the reason he will not debate John is because of a personal issue--it is a tragedy to him to see what has happened to John, and Craig wants no part in helping turn him into "Mr. Anti-Christian-Apologist."

I haven't seen this debate with D'Souza, but this sort of opening statement isn't what I would have started with if I was doing the debate. In any case, I'll be interested in seeing the rest of it, even though I dislike D'Souza.

Brad said...
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Brad Haggard said...

John, I think the philosophy behind your argument is inconsistent. You marshal Freud, Marx and Nietzsche to attack Christianity, but you fail to move into the 20th century and the criticisms of Derrida and Lyotard. Just because you rejected Christianity doesn't mean you've left the "text", as Derrida would put it. And you claim that Christianity has to be verified (skewing the state of modern scholarship, BTW. Where has quantum tunneling been verified, can you cite an article?) but offer no verification for your worldview. Your "agnosticism" is just a hat-tip. If everyone is arguing against each other, then listen to Hegel and find the truth in the dialectic.

Also, I don't think you're cultural argument holds up well to the facts:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1007462.html

Brad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gandolf said...

"thoughts offer no empirical or measurable evidence of their existence"

We can measure their existence,by scientific method observing and recording what can be achieved with thoughts

The fact that "thoughts" can provide new ideas, in itself is a measurable evidence that proves the existence of thought, doesnt it?.

Clare said...

I watched the debate with interest. I have recently debated Joe Boot, a Christian apologist in Canada.
You should be careful not to get sidetracked into attacking the "straw men" that D'Souza makes.
I think you should have addressed the cosmological argument in your opening remarks, as you should have know that your opponent would bring that up, as that is the best argument the Christian apologists have.
He quote-mined Stephen Hawkins. You should have called him on this.
D'Souza is a polished orator. Even if he does not make much sense at times, he sounds convincing. It is all about the performance as far as the audience is concerned.

Lee said...

I'm anxious to see a recording of the debate.

The references to D'Souza as a "polished orator" are telling. That's the state of the modern church: polished orators with smooth looks and smooth presentations, wooing large groups to support them financially. It has nothing to do with truth, logic, revelation, or anything else--look at Joel Osteen as a prime example.

It also seems to me that the number of "Oh, John, you should be ashamed" comments are good indications that you touched some sensitive nerves.

Walter said...

Loved the opening comment! Can't wait to get a full transcript of this debate.

Joshua Jung said...

John,

You might be interested to know that I had quite a "discussion" with Dinesh in the car on the way from Chicago to Champaign and my opinion of him is now very complicated.

The short of it was that he debates completely differently live than when having a discussion.

The most annoying thing was that in the car he used almost all the same arguments he used in his debate, except I was able to point out the problems with his arguments in the car and he would admit he saw where I was coming from and could understand where the problems were in his arguments.

But then once he was on stage he parroted those exact same arguments like he had not just admitted they were unsound an hour before.

I am not impressed with Dinesh... except for his "charm".

Nice guy, though. But he isn't that smart. I kept feeling like I was having to dumb down my conversation with him while in the car.

Anyway, sorry about your sore throat, and I highly recommend ignoring District Supt. Harvey Burnett. He does not have a clue how your agument is *not* the genetic fallacy.

Quite frankly, the true genetic fallacy is accepting what your parents told you because, well, it is coming from your parents.


Josh

bobius said...

Yes, I don't think that John's "Outsider's Test" line of argument commits the genetic fallacy. He would be committing the fallacy if he said "Religions all are manmade, your choice of religion is an accident of birth, human minds are a lot more gullible than we'd like to think... THEREFORE God does not exist and the Christian faith is a lie"

This isn't what John argues. He argues rather "Religions are all manmade, your choice of religion is an accident of birth, human minds are a lot more gullible than we'd like to think etc. etc... THERFORE we should be skeptical of the faith we were raised in and look at the evidence/arguments in order to determine the truth of the religion. And he doesn't think the evidence/arguments hold up. You may disagree with this argument on other terms (I'm an atheist, but I think there are some solid critiques that can be made of John's argument based on our inability to truly take an "outsider stance" and the questionable nature of the moral claim that "people ought to skeptically examine the faith they were raised in...), but "genetic fallacy" isn't one of them.

Clare said...

Joshua, I wouldn't expect that Dinesh would change his stance after a discussion with you in the car. After all, his speech is carefully prepared, memorised and rehearsed beforehand. It was also quite similar in content to other debates he was involved in. He is careful not to use Bible quotes and attacks on a pseudoscientific level instead. I expect he was well aware that John is a former theologian and not a scientist.

zenmite said...
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zenmite said...

Brad wrote:
"Where has quantum tunneling been verified, can you cite an article?"

"first experimental proof for quantum tunneling was obtained at Bell Labs., in the USA, inspired by P. W. Anderson (Nobel Laureate in Physics shared in 1978 with Sir Neville Mott of The Cavendish Laboratory, and Van Vleck); many subsequent experiments verified its existence, and also numerous devices, such as the transistor, were invented that utilized it. P.W. Anderson, was also the first theoretical physicist to verify the quantum calculations made by Brian Josephson and support the publication of the latter's results. The Nobel prize for the transistor went however to Dr. John Bardeen, (a former Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana in the Loomis Laboratory), who had initially rejected as `impossible' Josephson's manuscript submitted to “Nature” describing the quantum tunneling effect."

Google the term. There are numerous papers confirming quantum tunneling.

Did you maybe mean Quantum vacuum fluctuations? If so, this phenomena has also been widely confirmed and accepted by physicists.

christophermencken said...

Good opening, John. I guess no video or transcript is available yet. I'm sure you did well with this kind of opening statement.

unkle e said...

Joshua Jung said: "The most annoying thing was that in the car he used almost all the same arguments he used in his debate, except I was able to point out the problems with his arguments in the car and he would admit he saw where I was coming from and could understand where the problems were in his arguments.

But then once he was on stage he parroted those exact same arguments like he had not just admitted they were unsound an hour before."


Did you ever think, JJ, that his admitting he could see the force of your arguments was (a) him being friendly to someone giving him transport, and (b) he sees both the problems and the strengths, and still thinks the strengths outweigh the problems?

I know nothing of Dinesh, but we have to be pretty arrogant and one-eyed to think there aren't some positive arguments on both sides.

ZDENNY said...

John,

I have talked with other atheists who were at the debate. They said you lost pretty bad. The atheists of course did not agree with your opponent, but they said you lost pretty bad...

I felt sorry for you. Getting humiliated publicly is not what you wanted I am sure...

You will have to wait on debating Craig until you can actually get some good arguments for your beliefs.

On the other hand, since Christians have good arguments, you might want to just return to Christianity and be a big celebrity.

God Bless..

Toby said...

I think you have to have very thick skin to engage in these. I had to work late on only caught the closing statements. It sounded like it was a "spirited" debate. Is there a good recording of the audio?

John W. Loftus said...

Hi everyone. I'm back and tired from traveling. I'll offer my thoughts about the debate when I post the video of it later this week, if not before.

Toby said...

One more thought... I definitely don't have the thick skin needed for doing a debate like this. I find the folks that are coming here to bad mouth you to be incredibly offensive and I don't think I have the personality to handle that type of abuse...

I didn't see or hear the debate so I can't judge how you did, but win or lose I think you're awesome John!

Eldnar said...

Almost every sentence in John's opening statement was opinion stated as fact. Almost nothing supported. Here are some examples:

"But in fact cosmologists today agree that quantum mechanics prevented there ever being a cosmic singularity."
Really? Like who? I'm not saying it's not true, but where was the support? Without support it's opinion stated as fact.

"They cannot be rationally explained, like the relationship of the three persons in the trinity, the logical coherence of the incarnation of a person who is 100% God and 100% man, how the death of Jesus can possibly atone for sins, and how there can be a resurrected body."
John clearly shows he does not, NOR EVER HAS understood Christianity. Many, many Christians can rationally, and logically explain these doctrines.

"If God exists then the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people should never have occurred."
Really? Why? God sent plagues to Egypt. He wiped out the world except for 8 with a flood right? This statement is ridiculous, and again proves a lack of understanding of Christianity.

"The major Christian objection is that if God had created the universe differently it would upset the present ecosystem and/or go against the laws of nature."
Please tell me you're kidding. Please.

"There are other things I could argue, but I’ll stop here."
THANK YOU.

John needs arguments, not venting rants. It may work here on a website, but not in public debate. This was abject failure.

@Ronny
I'm not sure what why I'm a clown. Am I a clown because John did terrible?

@Landon
That may be true, but even if that weren't the case. After what I just saw, Craig would humiliate John. Why should Craig waste his time? Why would anybody want to see it?

Jonathan said...

@John

To be blunt debates like serve no purpose because in the end both sides slap each other backs and claim then won.

I don't have to tell a person who believes in fairies, elves and gnomes that they don't exist. I just give them their meds and walk way. The same goes with the followers of Christ.


There was a time were in the western world at least one had to profess some sort of Christian faith. Religious tolerance meant tolerance of other Christian faiths but not of other non-Christian faiths.
One of the main reason for the colonization of the American continent was freedom from religious persecution, from who, other Christians.

I am obligated to perform certain duties for the State under penalty of fines or imprisonment. I am told to recycle my refuse but the State can't tell me I need to follow any particular faith.

I think this is the heart of the battle. Whether or not I or anyone else has the right not to practice a faith. We do! If Dinesh wishes to believe what ever Gods or God he chose, that is fine. He needs to respect however a person cannot be forced or coerced in the same or any other religous beliefs.

Breckmin said...

Eldnar,
I don't know how to message you on here, but this isn't just about debate or how you think John "did."
If you truly pray for John and seek restoration for him rather than just debate... I think it is more constructive to deal with the specifics of his argument. There are many people who fall into atheism and God is faithful to bring them out once they get their questions answered.

Personally, I believe in answering questions and showing how the assertions themselves are utterly ridiculous when dissected at their assumptions, rather than looking at presentation and performance.

For me...attacking presentation and performance can give the appearance of insecurity rather than total assurance of personal faith - or knowledge of our Creator.

Michael

Breckmin said...

"He needs to respect however a person cannot be forced or coerced in the same or any other religous beliefs."

I'm pretty sure he respects that constitutional right. The problem comes when people say "The Christian God is impossible" or assertions which present a strawman of systematic theology which try to point to contradiction and fail to identify the complication.

No one (well.....) is saying you can't choose whether to believe in the God of Abraham. From a mature Christian perspective...it HAS TO BE a "choice." You can't force anyone to love God. This would be foolish to attempt to try and force someone to "choose" to love the Creator.
People love Jesus because they agree with Him. You have to be able to disagree in order to agree.

No one can force Christianity on someone else...because it would not be geniune unless it is a personal relationship where you agree with your Savior.

Breckmin said...

"He needs to respect however a person cannot be forced or coerced in the same or any other religous beliefs."

I'm pretty sure he respects that constitutional right. The problem comes when people say "The Christian God is impossible" or assertions which present a strawman of systematic theology which try to point to contradiction and fail to identify the complication.

No one (well.....) is saying you can't choose whether to believe in the God of Abraham. From a mature Christian perspective...it HAS TO BE a "choice." You can't force anyone to love God. This would be foolish to attempt to try and force someone to "choose" to love the Creator.
People love Jesus because they agree with Him. You have to be able to disagree in order to agree.

No one can force Christianity on someone else...because it would not be geniune unless it is a personal relationship where you agree with your Savior.

unkle e said...

Jonathon said: "I don't have to tell a person who believes in fairies, elves and gnomes that they don't exist. I just give them their meds and walk way. The same goes with the followers of Christ. "

Do you really give people meds for those things Jonathon? In what circumstances?

And what "same" goes for followers of Jesus?

I'd be interested to know what is the reality behind these statements.

Joshua Jung said...

"After all, his speech is carefully prepared, memorised and rehearsed beforehand."

No it wasn't. Not at all. In the car Dinesh mentioned that he didn't even prepare an opening statement but was planning on going with the flow.

However, I think his individual arguments are "memorized" in the same way we memorize quips or short stories.

"Joshua, I wouldn't expect that Dinesh would change his stance after a discussion with you in the car."

I'm not that stupid. I'm simply pointing out that his attitude in the car was one of openness but I couldn't understand the somewhat authoritative air he had in the debate. It almost made me sick... he did give me a short nod with a tiny comment he made about "if it even makes any sense to use the word 'begin'" - that was from our discussion in the car, but I don't think it went any further than that.

Oh, and I was one of the two people to raise my hand when Dinesh asked his question :)

Anyway, all that said I had a much better time discussing things with Dinesh in the car. I think he thought I was a Christian for the first half of the trip because he kept answering my questions by saying things about the "new atheists" and even as if I would just agree they were nuts. My friend Brandt who was with me said he noticed the same thing. I still don't know if he knew we were both atheists. It was a long story about how we ended up driving him - had to do with the massive snow storm in Chicago this weekend. Anyway.

Joshua Jung said...

Clare, I completely agree with your assessment. Well said.

Jonathan said...

unkle e said...
Do you really give people meds for those things Jonathon? In what circumstances?



I give them the satisfaction in revealing their beliefs to me without argument or debate. They in turn get to vent out. I politely nod and go about my business.

Christians have a wide range of beliefs demons, devils, witches, leprechauns, etc. Or they didn't?

Regarding Jesus

*Walking on Water
*Wine to water
*Healing
*Demonic possession
*Virgin birth
*God is your dad
*Reserection
Why are there still Jews

This come to mind.


Great video

What Would Jesus NOT Do?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOfjkl-3SNE


Is this what you were looking for?

unkle e said...

Jonathon:

All I was asking about was your comments about "meds". Do I take it that they were not meant to be taken literally?

Jonathan said...

To unkle e

Correct, its a metaphor.

unkle e said...

A metaphor for what? Or was it just a derogatory comment that means nothing?

Jonathan said...

@unkle e

metaphor

I listen to what they say, listen to their explanation, they are happy they told me their message, I give their moment and I walk way.

On the other hand Christian's never believed, in witches, ghosts, angles, demons, etc?

Toby said...

Uncle e wrote,

"Well John, I started reading your opening statement, but most of what you said in the opening paragraphs about christians and christian belief were not true for me as a christian and my beliefs. So I skipped to the last few, and it was the same. Yet you said it all so confidently."

If I were you I would ask myself, "Why couldn't I take the two minutes needed to read John's arguments in full before responding on a blog about those comments?" This makes me wonder what level scrutiny you are even willing to offer your own beliefs. As a psychologist, I know that we all believe silly things, which is why I believe we have to be willing to at least listen and analyse first before making judgements. Just a thought.

unkle e said...

Toby wrote: "If I were you I would ask myself, "Why couldn't I take the two minutes needed to read John's arguments in full before responding on a blog about those comments?""

Have you never skipped through something on the web you found tedious or irrelevant? Research shows that most people do. As a psychologist, I would hope you would draw the most likely conclusion before you drew deeper, less well-based, conclusions about my thought processes. But then, I know little about psychology.

For the record, I did subsequently read it all, and was conformed in my original impression.

unkle e said...

Jonathon,

I have picked up on what was probably a couple of throwaway lines of yours because serious issues are involved. You may not have thought of them (I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt), so let me explain briefly.

You said "I don't have to tell a person who believes in fairies, elves and gnomes that they don't exist. I just give them their meds and walk way. The same goes with the followers of Christ." This is a reprehensible statement for the following reasons:

1. It is untrue and misleading. It turns out you don't actually give people meds.

2. I know a lot of people who suffer from a mental illness which is stabilised by them taking medication. Many of them experience "voices in their head" but I don't recall their condition leading to any of them believing in "fairies, elves and gnomes" or any other obviously mythical creatures.

3. Many of them feel stigmatised by having to rely on medication. (I don't think they should feel that way, but the fact is that they do.) Insensitive remarks like yours only make them feel worse.

4. There is no obvious parallel between requiring medication for a mental illness and belief in christianity. In fact studies I have seen show that christians/religious people have higher levels of mental health than average.

So I'm hoping this brief exchange may help you to see that your remarks were insensitive, inaccurate, without evidence and better left unsaid. And I'm hoping in the future you will be thoughtful enough to not make the same mistake. Thanks, and best wishes.

Toby said...

Uncle e asked, "Have you never skipped through something on the web you found tedious or irrelevant?"

Of course I have. I just don't throw insults at the author without first having read their whole post... until now. I didn't read the rest of your post becuase I just assumed it was the same drivel you wrote earlier.


;) Just messing with you. I still think if we are going to enter into a thoughtful discussion or debate, we do ourselves good to give the courtesy of "listening" to what the other has to say even when we disagree.

bulejaggers said...

I think you all should back off and give John a break.... His book is the home run man... I couldn't put up with the bad audio on the stream, so i can't grade the debate. But, the opening statement, if not totally exhaustive (how could it be?) is very strong. I'm not saying I'm 100% in agreement with everything John says on the blog or in his book, but I'm on board with most of it. John is a real pro.... And, Dinesh is intelligent too, I would have bought into the apologetics years ago, but now I don't. I side with John for the most part even though at this point, I still categorize myself as an agnostic with an open mind. All of the smart aleck quips you're heaping at John aren't productive guys. it's immature and lame.... but, I respect you for having the right to say what you want... Once the audio is cleaned up, I think we should all take another look at the debate. hopefully it will be transcribed

Jonathan said...

unkle e


Sorry, Unkle E, but I am not writing my PhD in "Physiology and the intersection of Religion" so excuse me if don't cite my sources.

Without having to be somewhat oblivious what this is, but it is a comment section on a blog so expect it to be at times off the cuff and in your face.

Lets be a little honest here.

If were we to examine historical of pre-christian societies what rituals, practices, beliefs, demons, familiars, witches, leprechauns, etc that were still believed after there conversion to Christainity, many of these tradtions were still kept.

The merging of traditional religions and Christianity evident in Africa and the Caribbean. Look at the events now in Uganda and Tanzania (albinos) for example of traditional religious faith clash with Christianity.

An other paper I would think would be cool but would be
"How Christianity changed and was changed by local religious traditions" I am pretty sure someone had approached this subject.

Remorse and Meds?

I said I just give them their meds and walk way. without any negative or positive connotations, you sir are implying what I didn't say.

In the present day do Christians still believe in demons, witches, exorcism, ghosts, angles? Yes.

Did Jesus perform counseling or cast out demons? Weren't people historical stigmatized for mental disorders by Christians who were seen as "demon possessed".

What was the treatment for Mental illness in medieval Christian Europe, not pretty, eh?


Until just recently we have seen a improvement in the conditions and treatment for people with mental illness, because of advances in technology, medicine, and changes in attitude of the public toward mental illness?

It had to take over 1900 years to convince people that they were not possessed by devils? Great work on healing, Jesus.

unkle e>> In fact studies I have seen show that Christians/religious people have higher levels of mental health than average.

Ah, compared to what since people of religious faith comprise the majority of people. I am sorry dude, but the billions spend on such therapies are not from the non-religious the religious have issues too.

Tallying Mental Illness' Costs
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1738804,00.html

Believers' Inferences About God's Beliefs Are Uniquely Egocentric

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130151321.htm


Toronto Blessing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Blessing


Santeria
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santer%C3%ADa


FIRST-PERSON: Faith & healing -- Where's the evidence?
http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=28460

28th DEAD RAISED TODD BENTLEY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtrpMkcFVDM

Disgraced pastor Michael Guglielmucci a porn addict
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/fraud-pastor-a-porn-addict-says-shocked-dad/story-e6frfkx9-1111117284239


Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton, Paula White, etc.

Sorry for my rambling, but... I have to run.

unkle e said...

So Jon, you chose to defend the undefendable rather than admit to being inaccurate and insensitive. I am sorry you took that course, but in so doing you have shown the nature of your belief better than I ever could have done. I need say no more. Farewell.

bulejaggers said...

john, i've read all of these remarks and it's no different when a super bowl or a wrestling match goes on. people side with the team they are inclined to side with. I'm gonna wait for a transcription or a cleaner audio copy of the debate, but from what I know so far, you held your own... You rock man

Jonathan said...

unkle e


At least you can explain why I am wrong.

Without having to be somewhat oblivious what this is, but it is a comment section on a blog so expect it to be at times off the cuff and in your face.

oblivious is obvious, my bad.

unkle e said...

Jonathon said: "At least you can explain why I am wrong."

Jon, I have only been discussing one thing with you - your use of the analogy of people who have mental illnesses requiring meds as a comparison with your view of christians. I pointed out your statement was untrue, insensitive to people who already felt stigmatised and contrary to evidence. You tried to justify your use of this comparison. If you cannot understand or agree, I have nothing more to say - I don't wish to argue about something that is off-topic. So that's really the end of it, isn't it? best wishes.

Robert said...

Harvey writes: "Disagreement among Christians on Christian doctrine DOES NOT cancel the TRUTH of Christianity out!!!"

First of all: Harvey, you seem angry. Have a glass of wine and chill.

While disagreement among Christians may not necessarily indicate whether objective truth exists, the problem is that the so-called objective truth (in terms of theological or moral doctrine) is not ascertainable, even to Christians.

I've been arguing with Christians on another blog over whether sticking a sword into an infant is ALWAYS a moral evil. They can't even say because the Bible suggests that "herem" (genocide) is morally permissible. What are the circumstances? Who knows. They can't say.

What is murder? The unnecessary taking of human life. Yet, God commands it on numerous occasions. Rape? (The taking of a woman against her will for the purposes of sex.) Same thing.

The Bible is incoherent when it comes to specifying objective truth or morality.

Brandon said...

"If God exists then the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that killed a quarter of a million people should never have occurred."

And exactly what leads you to believe God did not have a morally sufficient reason for allowing this?


I can't take the rest of your article seriously after reading that.

skeptic griggsy said...

Only fools claim that He has justification for that! The His ways argument blasphemes reason and-humanity. That is an argument from ignorance and quite stupid.
Inquiring Lynn

Santino said...

Well, Life after death. Hmm. Why are you even entertaining this idea? There is no way you can argue against this using logic and reason. This idea is devoid of any logic or reason. It is born from the imagination. That is where it lives.

The initial concept comes from the belief in God. So if you want to debunk this concept you have to debunk God. But how do you debunk God if this belief is also devoid of logic and reason? Anything based on faith must, by it's very nature, have no proof. Which means you cannot have hard evidence for any religion based on faith. Ever.

You cannot prove life after death. It is impossible. I have not read this guys book, but I don't have to read it. Just like I don't have to read a book that claims there are lizard people fighting beneath the Earth. If you are religious you are delusional. Look up delusion and you will recognize the symptoms. This book is written by a believer which means it is born from delusion. Why would you give it even a moment of your time and energy. All religions must be debunked from the beginning. Trying to disprove God because bad things happen is never going to convince anyone. These people are crazy. They do not work from a place of common sense. Our Justice system is flawed to be sure and it is supposed to work based on hard evidence. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Peoples lives depend on it. Yet, these idiots will believe based on no evidence, but then embrace the principles of our justice system when it suits them and abandon the ideas when it does not.

Ask them who wrote The Old Testament?
We all know the creation account is flawed but still the faithful come up with excuses for their all-powerful creator and how they can reconcile his shortcomings. Ask them any of the following questions and they will not have an intelligent answer.
Why pray if God is All-knowing?
In the Garden of Eden there was the Tree of Knowledge(the knowledge of good and evil). Well, I know where the knowledge of good came from, but how could evil have existed before the fall of man? Did God create it?
Christians say that God likes to test us, but why test for something you already know the outcome to?
Why does an All-powerful God need servants or messengers.
How did Satan fall? If heaven is perfect and Satan was greedy, and envious does that mean that there is greed and petty jealousy in heaven?

These are simple questions based on their description of God's attributes. They deserve simple answers, but you will never get any.

What these morons fail to understand is why people like us are so opposed to their stupid beliefs. They forget the horrible history of Christianity and Catholicism. They forget how many innocent people died for nothing. They just keep saying that those people that caused all that suffering were bad Christians. They weren't bad Christians they were acting like God. They forget that they're all-powerful, omnibenevolent creator acts exactly the same way. Think about it. God makes man. He gets disappointed in his creation. Now he has an infinite number of ways he could deal with this situation. He could educate his creation. He could appear to each and every one of us as a burning bush and read us the riot act. He could do a number of things that are rehabilitative in nature, but what does he do instead? What is the choice that this all-merciful, all-powerful and loving God decides to make. He destroys every living thing on the planet except Noah and a bunch of animals he could fit on a boat.

This is what they believe. And you want to reason with these idiots? Please!! Save yourself the trouble. Science is slowly going to destroy religion. They are going to choke on their own faith. It is the only way they will understand. It's not like we haven't tried. I suspect there will be responses saying that I am mean or angry , but predictable as they are they will never do the one thing that their faith has been trying to teach them.....................why? Because even God couldn't do it the first time.