Post-debate thoughts

JVLast night I debated Reverend Michael Brewster of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA on the topic of “Does the Christian god exist?” within his church. Pastor Shawn Walker of First Baptist Church joined us as the moderator and the audience — composed of crying babies, young children, teenagers, young adults, older adults, and senior citizens — included approximately 70 people.

The structured debate lasting about 80 minutes — including opening statements, first rebuttals, second rebuttals, closing statements, and a question & answer session with comments from the audience — went quite smoothly thanks to assistance from Pastor Walker.

Following the debate, I primarily spoke with members of Rev. Brewster’s congregation who thanked me for attending and inviting Rev. Brewster to debate. Some, presumably well-meaning, said they would pray for me. One said that she “just knows” I believe in God because she “can see it in [my] eyes”. Another told me she “just knows” God exists because she was freed of addiction following calling out to God. Some said they really enjoyed the event and are looking forward to future interactions. One person unexpectedly said I was “right.” One Christian, saying she was thinking about me while browsing Christian books in a bookstore, gave me a book. Another Christian said she would mail me books and DVDs.

A cordial debate about religious belief — likely the first of its kind in Northeastern Pennsylvania — went well and was well-attended. Many parishioners who likely have never heard such a debate or encountered arguments against their religious beliefs had a chance to think critically about their beliefs and consider (or reconsider) some doubts. Images people may have had of the ‘nasty, angry, uncivil, rude, foolish, irrational atheist’ have hopefully been dispelled.

Pastor Brewster — who told me that he wasn’t much of a debater and is not practiced at debating or apologetics — courageously accepted my debate challenge and prepared for the debate. Brewster agreed to debate, offered his church as a venue, invited members of his congregation to attend, and made a good effort to debate. Pastor Brewster’s hospitality, and the hospitality of his church staff, on the day of the debate was also excellent; the venue was prepared for the debate and my needs were attended to.Debate Newspaper Ad

I hope to have more events like this in the future — whether they are debates or not — and engage with religious believers in cordial open to the public discussions which are educational opportunities for the community. Sadly, as far as I know, events like these are not common – at least in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Thanks again to Pastor Brewster, Pastor Walker, all who attended in person, and those who listened online.

I hope to follow-up with thoughts concerning the content of the debate. I will reproduce my opening statement, elaborate on my responses to the material Pastor Brewster presented, and detail problems I found with Pastor Brewster’s case for the Christian god. Stay tuned.

Listen to the audio recording of the debate here.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia.

He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events.

Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County’s Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher’s assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.

  • Tyler

    Not bad man.

    Your arguments were quite clearly much better than his. His approach showed hints of the typical apologetic approach (ex. a kalam type argument) but he didn’t seem to have the in-depth philosophical knowledge of how address specific problems or how to talk about ways of knowing in general. I found it very strange that he was so unwilling to talk about the methods and morality of the Christian God, seeing as how those would help to differentiate his specific God from a pantheon of potential universe creators. Anyways.

    I’ll toss in a few criticisms of your approach too, just for good measure. At one point I thought I heard you say “I am first and foremost an atheist”. You may not have meant this in the way I’m thinking, but it doesn’t really make sense. You can’t be an atheist *first*. Rather, you can be a naturalist or a rationalist and those types of epistemological paradigms can lead to and reinforce atheism. Atheism itself isn’t a worldview, it’s just a consequence of worldviews that rely on scientific or empirical methods of knowing.

    Second, you could have spent a little more time elaborating on your positive case rather than constantly saying your opponent has not sufficiently made his case. That’s only half the argument; although it’s often enough to win religious debates it’s not especially persuasive rhetorically. You could have explained, for example, why God is not needed for objective morality (or why objective morality is not needed) rather than just saying that your opponent hasn’t made a strong enough argument for that connection. Gotta argue both sides (Parmenides teaches Socrates this in the dialogue of that name). I understand you only had limited time to speak though.

    Anyways, that’s all I got. Too bad he didn’t really address the problems of suffering or hidden-ness, those are fairly predictable objections. Hope the crowd had fun.

    I also didn’t make it to the Q&A, so forgive me if something in my comment was addressed then.

    • PONCHO

      That was a moment of revealing honesty on Justin’s part. He was absolutely correct to say that he is first and foremost an atheist, as are all atheists. You like to pretend that you approach the facts as a blank slate, consider them without bias, and then conclude quite fairly that there is insufficient evidence to justify belief in God. Justin knows this is not true, and so should you. That is simply not how human beings operate, nor could they. So, did empirical observation convince you that induction itself, the basis of all scientific endeavor, was valid? No, of course not, since you cannot observe causality. You assumed induction a priori. Did scientific investigation reveal to you the fact that laws of logic exist? Oh wait, abstract laws such as the laws of logic are not material things, nor properties of matter, so you would have had to presuppose those, as well. Of course, we know by conducting controlled experiments that naturalism is a sufficient basis for understanding all knowable things, right. WHAT???!!!!!???? You assumed that as well??? (I’m utilizing sarcasm to display the absurdity of your claim to objectivity. Are you seeing it yet?) The REAL question is, WHY did you begin with all of THESE assumptions, these presuppositions, these, dare we say, pre-commitments, as opposed to different ones? See, just like me, you start with certain presuppositions. It is impossible to reason without doing so. But how do you choose your presuppositions? You choose them because you are guided by your ULTIMATE precommitment to ATHEISM. The one thing that can never be allowed, is that a god could be any part of an explanation for anything. That is a BIAS that is unproven, assumed a priori. So I thank and respect Justin for being honest, that he is first and foremost an atheist.

  • I just got done listening to the third part of the Krauss-Craig debate sponsored by the City Bible Forum in Australia (on Vimeo). Krauss handles the morality question as well as I’ve ever seen (since Hitch). Makes excellent point that our civil laws are not based on the bible therefore morality exists outside religion. There’s more, including a pithy punchline. Study it for future reference. Man left to himself overrode the bible belief that slavery was ok. I can’t believe that guy even went THERE. Wow. I use the abolition of slavery as the point when our moral evolution surpassed that which was available in the so-called good book. First cause? What caused God? You can’t say everything needs a cause but God. That’s horseshit. Anyway, good job. Enjoy.

    • PONCHO

      The religion of the Bible predates the written manuscripts. Just because you find civil law outside of the Bible or predating the Old Testament does not mean that morality exists outside of religion. If the Bible is true, God existed from eternity past, so his “religion” predates any civil law of man. There is abundant evidence to expect that the oral traditions of the Bible were in circulation long before the written. If your claim is that morality exists outside of religion, you have to explain how it is objective and universally binding. And if it isn’t, then it is arbitrary, and you have no basis for saying anyone else should observe it or for condemning any act as bad/wrong/evil/immoral. A morality that can’t prescribe or proscribe is practically and actually useless. As to slavery, you might want to check out a non-revisionist history. Christians were the first to oppose slavery in the US and the ones to ultimately bring about its abolition. “Moral evolution”. Yeah, I see how we’ve advanced as a species when we look at today’s youth compared to 50 years ago. Disrespectful, selfish, entitled, narcissistic, violent, lascivious, lazy, irresponsible, ungrateful… What, exactly, is your gauge for judging that we’ve “evolved” in this regard? Every time you talk about improvement in morality, you are implying an abstract, absolute and universal standard, something that isn’t compatible with your atheist worldview.

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  • Scott Marshall

    Rev Brewster said God is needed for objective morality. Christians, historically, have done horrendously immoral things in vast numbers since Christianity began, even by Christian standards. This suggests to me that the information of what’s moral and immoral is not communicated to us from the Christian god, but lies only in the book. Therefore, the god in the book most likely does not exist, or is asleep or watching us passively. Since there’s so much in The Bible that’s now considered immoral, the book seems to be quite worthless as a moral guide, thus eliminating both the book and the supernatural entity as guides to morality.

    • PONCHO

      Right, because something that is once considered immoral later comes to be considered moral, the book was wrong. Gee, it couldn’t be that the book was right and the prevailing opinion became wrong, now could it? We are in trouble if we decide our personal ethics based on what the shifting winds of popular opinion say. And that’s exactly where we find ourselves. You are in very familiar territory for an atheist implying that Christians are responsible for a majority of evils throughout history. Sadly, statistically, you’re just wrong. You conveniently ignore the atrocities committed under the banner of atheism, say, in the French Revolution, Cambodia, or (insert name of the atheist/communist regime of your choice). These immoralities far outweigh anything done during the Crusades, witch trials, whatever you want to claim as evidence. And, as I’m surprised I have to remind you YET AGAIN SCOTT, by atheist standards, Christians have NEVER done ANYTHING immoral, since you reject an objective standard of morality! This is the proof that Rev. Brewster was right – God IS needed for objective morality. Otherwise, stop cutting and pasting the same arguments and offer an alternative for how you can call ANYTHING “immoral”. Either that, or stop calling things immoral. If it’s immoral, there’s an objective standard. If there’s no objective standard, it isn’t immoral. Atheism is bankrupt when it comes to providing a basis for a (non-arbitrary, non-inconsistent) system of ethics.

      • Scott Marshall

        I’m flattered that you think I cut and paste. Since I don’t it’s a compliment!

        An argument is not invalid just because you’ve heard it before.

        I call ad hom and red herring. I cut and paste nothing, but a good argument is good whether it is original or not. If I say anything supporting atheism I’m likely to tread on well worn ground. That does not diminish the argument in the least. One could say the same, in spades, about theistic arguments that have been around for millennia.

        The Bible approves of slavery, Does that make it moral? The shifting winds of popular opinion have shifted what’s been cherry picked from holy books. The Christian god does not give an absolute morality, because He is arbitrary, e.g. telling us not to kill, then commanding us kill. The list of contradictions in The Bible, moral and otherwise, is massive (google “A List of Bible Contradictions”).

        Christians have been horribly immoral BY CHRISTIAN STANDARDS, and this is the problem. When you believe the creator of the universe is on your side, anything goes. Hitler and the Nazis believed the Christian god was on their side. You see the problem?

        Free yourself from the mental straight jacket of religion and you can easily see common Christian morality is ridiculous. One of my favorites, not original that I’m typing from memory (not cut and paste), is the notion that the creator of this vast universe, with billions of galaxies and trillions of stars and planets, billions of people and trillions of animals, can get so bent out of shape about where I put my penis. Really, think about this. This is the morality you subscribe to? Your god is a projection of voyeuristic pervs (and I just coined that, but does that really matter?).

        Nature and science actually can give us a good basis for morality. It’s much better than basing morality on the testimony of a supernatural entity no one can demonstrate exists at all. I suggest you read Sam Harris’s book on the subject, “The Moral Landscape.”

        • PONCHO

          You’ve finally done it, Scott Marshall! You’ve succeeded in typing a comment so full of error, inconsistency, and arbitrariness, that it is ALMOST not worth my time to respond. So kudos on that. But because I do so love to argue, I’m going to anyway. Let’s just visit a few examples of the wrongness of everything you said. 1. Nazis were not Christian. That is a historical falsehood. Hitler went after Christians with a hatred surpassed only by that toward the Jews. That is a commonly repeated piece of misinformation. 2. Where was the ad hom attack in my response? Pointing out that you keep repeating the same tired arguments that I have already effectively countered is not an attack on you, but on your method of argument. An argument isn’t “good” if it has been countered, and you have been unable to provide an effective counter to my counter. That’s called losing 3. God never told us not to kill, unless you believe the original manuscripts were written in English. 4. Some Christians have been horribly immoral by Christian standards. There’s the AD HOM attack you were looking for. You were just confused about who used it. Hint: it was you. That doesn’t invalidate Christianity, only the people who did so. But even so, it still doesn’t begin to compare to the quantity of immoral acts committed by atheists historically. 5. I now officially know 100% more than I ever wanted to about your penis. See, here’s another way you are arbitrary. Your precious nature itself teaches us where you’re supposed to put that thing. You choose to ignore your own standard when it is convenient to your penis. 6. Don’t accuse me of something some Christians might do, but which I don’t do. I don’t “cherry pick”. I always seek to understand the Bible on its OWN terms (not on postmodern humanistic terms), and in context (its own, the historical, cultural, theological, etc.). When understood that way, the alleged “contradictions” dissolve. The Bible doesn’t approve of slavery, for example, when understood in those terms. Documenting, permitting, even commanding in a certain limited context and for a specific purpose, do not imply a blanket approval of slavery, and certainly not of the type practiced in America. See, you don’t care about anything like cultural context or textual critical analysis; you just throw out “God loves slavery” type comments for shock value. I can show you point by point how each of the so-called contradictions in the Bible are “red herrings”. So for me, there is no contradiction nor immorality in the Bible. And since there is no such thing for you, you shouldn’t have a problem. What IS clear from your comments is a massive resentment of the Christian God and the fact that he would dare dictate ANYTHING with regard to what you believe or do. Here’s your problem with choosing science and nature as the basis for morality: there is no “should”. There is absolutely no binding aspect that tells me why I should give 2 rats’ bungholes what nature or science allegedly tell me about morality. And if it has no obligatory aspect, then you also can’t tell anyone else they should or shouldn’t, or that act A is better than act B. Is is all completely, totally, 100% ARBITRARY. Like atheism.

          • Scott Marshall

            Poncho, there are many reasons I won’t answer an argument besides feeling I’ve lost. You’re doing a Gish Gallop (google it). If your argument has been stated and mine has, too, then I’m satisfied.

            But first, I’ll cut off the red herrings. You keep making the conversation about me. It’s not about me. It’s about religion and morality. Yet, morality is a red herring also, and Justin should have observed that and cut it off with Rev. Brewster. The subject was whether or not the Christian god exists.

            There’s no evidence the Christian god exists. Indeed, there’s no evidence ANY god exists. That should be the end of it.

            I’d never heard of Hitler persecuting Christians generally. If you could supply a link to a good historical record supporting that, I’ll check it out. One major Nazi slogan was “God With Us” (Gott Mit Uns).

            Here’s a nice quote from Hitler I copy and paste for you:

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…. And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people…. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.”

            -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

          • PONCHO

            If anyone is doing a “Gish Gallop”, it’s you, as already alluded to in the second sentence of my previous post. Here’s a couple of links to the fact that Hitler was not a Christian in any true sense but only used religion occasionally as a propaganda tool, as well as his persecution of Christian ministers:
            http://constitutionalistnc.tripod.com/hitler-leftist/id2.html
            http://www.answers.org/history/hitquote.html
            Of course, if you’re as reasonable as most of the atheists I’ve debated, you will decry any evidence that doesn’t come from an atheist source as invalid. Convenient. Even without these, your quote supplies all the evidence I need to show that he was not a Christian, since he says that the reason Jesus died on the cross was to destroy the “Jewish poison”, and took it as his Christian duty to turn against the Jews, views hardly compatible with the Christian Bible. Anyone can say God is with me, but you have to read a little deeper than the surface (something atheists are not accustomed to doing) to see that whatever God he was talking about, it isn’t the one presented in the Bible.
            Morality is anything but a red herring. It cuts to the very heart of the matter. Because you see, only if God exists does it have any meaning to talk about morality as anything more than your opinion or mine (which is academically irrelevant and worthless). As long as the atheist wants to claim to be moral and good, and to condemn the acts of another, he is being arbitrary and assuming things that only make sense in the Christian worldview.

            You are right that we both stated our case. But it doesn’t fly for you to just say, “I had other, secret reasons for not answering your argument” (paraphrase). The fact is, you have responded to pretty much every point I have made, except the one that has been my main point throughout, and that is telling. It suggests that you have no answer. This theory is further bolstered by the fact that NOBODY on this blog, Justin included, has given an answer to that point. You say there is no evidence for God, but you are wrong. If you mean empirical evidence that you will accept, then no. But that is a test that is designed to fail: the attempt to measure a transcendent or immaterial quantity with a measuring tool that is intended to detect only material things. You set out to find nothing, and surprise, surprise, there it isn’t! The evidence for God is the impossibility of the contrary. It is the fact that you, as an atheist, cannot account for abstract, immaterial, and universal entities like laws of logic, morality, mathematics, the inductive principle, or human knowledge and intelligibility on purely naturalistic and materialistic terms. You need all these things to function, to think, to argue, to live – you use them every day – but you cannot account for them. They should not exist in an atheist universe. But they do, they must, and the necessary precondition of these things is the Christian God. I don’t have to barrage you with red herrings , since you haven’t even countered my main point. This isn’t about you, it’s about God, and that fact that you need to sit on his lap in order to slap him in the face. The atheist presupposes things that only make sense if God exists. And then he uses those very things to try to deny that he exists. And atheists say WE are begging the question! Answer me when you’ve found an answer that is neither arbitrary nor inconsistent. I won’t hold my breath.

          • Scott Marshall

            Poncho, you don’t seem to know what red herring, ad hom, or Gish gallop actually mean. Your repeated use of “I know you are, but what am I?” (e.g. “If anyone is doing a “Gish Gallop”, it’s you”) style Pee-Wee Herman retorts is infantile. I’m not taking the bait.

            The subject is whether or not the Christian god exists. It’s not about morality (red herring), and it’s not about me (ad hom).

            There’s no evidence the Christian god exists. Claims that atheists are hypocritical do not constitute evidence the Christian god exists (red herring).

            The “atheists cannot account for” argument is the “argument from ignorance” fallacy.

            Your “Hitler was not a TRUE Christian” argument is the “no true Scotsman” logical fallacy.

            Your argument that you are not like typical Christians is the “special pleading” fallacy.

            Really, all you offer, Poncho, are easily identifiable logical fallacies. I suggest you educate yourself on them, then try to argue for your god without using them.

            Google “logical fallacies” to get started.

            Here’s a nice article on how Christianity was concocted as a hoax, much like Mormonism and Scientology. Enjoy!

            http://beyondallreligion.net/2012/01/21/how-christianity-was-invented/

          • PONCHO

            Amazing! You are wrong on every possible count and clearly have at
            best a very simplistic understanding of logical fallacies or how to
            identify them. I will now show you how you are wrong, so you understand that I am destroying your arguments, not attacking you as a person. You are possibly quite nice when you are not quite so busy being wrong.

            It’s not ad hom to argue with you, show your points to be invalid, and demolish your beliefs. That’s called debate. Ad hom would be if I said, “You’re clearly wrong because you’re an atheist.” Or, “your argument is invalid because you are a bad person. I’m saying you’re wrong because you’re wrong, and showing you which specific arguments are wrong and why. Your arguments are both inconsistent and arbitrary, that is all.

            A red herring is an irrelevant side issue intended to distract. Morality is not a red herring, it is evidence of the impossibility of the atheist
            position and the necessity of Christian theism. I have been illustrating
            the transcendental nature of morality to prove God exists. That is not a red herring. A red herring is a claim that is tangential to the point
            being argued and that leads the opponent toward a false conclusion.
            Morality was a line of argumentation I was using to argue for the
            existence of God, and as such, neither tangential nor misleading. You can’t simply label anything you don’t have an answer for a “red
            herring”, and then you don’t have to answer for it. I am using a kind
            of evidence you don’t like. That doesn’t mean it isn’t evidence. It
            isn’t empirical evidence, but I am questioning your precommitment to
            pure empiricism. That is an unproven, a priori assumption. You don’t
            win a debate by repeating over and over that there is no evidence. then when I supply evidence in the form of a transcendental argument, instead of answering the challenge, you just say, “That isn’t evidence. Therefore, there is no evidence.” Atheism is bankrupt unless you can account for the abstract, universal, absolute entities I mentioned, which you can’t without borrowing from the Christian worldview.

            You are the one who is saying, in effect, “I know you are but what am I?” You seem to think it is not a debate about the existence of God unless we never stray from “He does so too exist!” “Nu-uh! He totally does not exist!” types of argumentation. Yes, this is about whether God exists. But me introducing morality or anything else as evidence is not a side issue, and doesn’t make it ad hom. Man up and answer my objections instead of trying to redefine all my terms so you don’t have to. True, claiming atheists are hypocritical doesn’t prove God exists. I’m not saying you are hypocritical, I am saying atheists are
            inconsistent and arbitrary. That doesn’t prove God exists, but it
            proves atheism is logically fallacious and unable to establish a
            consistent, non-arbitrary system of ethics, causality, logic, etc. And
            if so, the burden of proof is then on the atheist to tell me what that
            undergirding is. ALL of you have failed to do so, choosing rather to
            live with, and in denial of, your inconsistency and arbitrariness.

            Let the education continue. An argumentum ad ignorantium is saying
            something is true because it has not yet been disproven. Actually, that is what the atheist is doing. You assume that God doesn’t exist
            because his non-existence has not yet been disproven. You would state it positively and say that you assume he doesn’t exist because he has not yet been proven, but on what basis do you START with the a priori claim that he doesn’t exist? That is a presupposition not based on empirical examination, but assumed from the outset because of bias. Me saying “the atheist cannot account…” is not even close to being an argument from ignorance. I am NOT saying you are wrong because you have NOT YET proven that you have a basis for abstract, universal, absolute entities. I am saying that these
            entities are IMPOSSIBLE in the atheist worldview. It is UNPROVABLE.
            That is not an argumentum ad ignorantium.

            The “no true Scotsman” argument doesn’t apply. It would only if I were saying, “No Christian would ever kill thousands of Jews. Oh wait, Hitler did. Then he was no TRUE Christian.” I never made a universal claim about what Christians do or do not. That is the necessary qualifier for the “no true Scotsman” argument. That whole issue was YOUR ad hom and YOUR red herring. I was just making the very fair point that a Christian should probably not be in open violation of Christian principles, and if they are, you might want to hesitate before citing them as an example of the failure of Christianity. How you twisted my pointing out of your ad hom attack into me committing the “no true Scotsman” fallacy is an impressive feat of logical gymnastics. Even if Hitler were a Christian, he was a crappy one by anyone’s standards. I can say, ” am a Scott
            Marshallite”. I can then kill thousands of Jews in your name. You
            would be perfectly justified in saying I was therefore “no true Scott
            Marshallite”. Not everyone who claims to be this or that represents
            others of that ilk. That is the whole basis of an ad hom attack. We have an issue with defining terms. We have to agree on what a Christian is before we can say whether Hitler was one or not. I suggest that saying “I am a Christian” is a necessary, but not a sufficient qualification for inclusion in the group, “Christians”.
            Besides, Hitler wasn’t Scottish (this is a joke, Scott Marshall).

            Simply saying I am not like other Christians is not “special pleading”. You are exhausting me by making me define everything for you.
            Special pleading refers to the claim that I am exempt from things that
            apply to other Christians without justifying my exemption. When, pray
            tell, did I do that? I distanced myself from the logical and
            hermeneutical errors of many other Christians on the basis of those
            errors. I JUSTIFIED the “exemption”. Christians can be arbitrary and
            inconsistent just like anyone else, and when they are, and I point it
            out, and say I’m different from that, it is not special pleading. If
            you are not attacking Christianity, but a fallacious version of
            Christianity, it is not special pleading for me to say that is not truly
            an argument against Christianity. If you’re saying I’m wrong because
            most Christians say God loves everyone, and he can’t love everyone if he sends some to hell, and I reply that the Bible never teaches that God loves everyone, that is not “special pleading”. It is defining our
            terms. If your goal is to invalidate the Christian faith, but you only
            attack a version of the Christian faith that I don’t subscribe to, then
            your attack doesn’t apply to me, and I have JUSTIFIED why it doesn’t.

            In a last, desperate attempt to find one small grain of truth in your post, I went to your link. I read that Constantine invented Christianity. Given that there are new testament manuscript fragments dating back to the late 1st century, and that extrabiblical sources like Tacitus and Josephus referenced Christianity long before Constantine, this was so hilarious that I didn’t need to read any farther. If this is the kind of argument you are going to advance, my time here is wasted. You’ve got nothing.

          • Scott Marshall

            I laughed when I read your “You are the one who is saying, in effect, ‘I know you are but what am I?”‘ because it repeats your Pee-Wee Herman style of argumentation.

            Your purportedly infallible logic that the Christian god exists because atheists borrow Christian concepts of morality is incoherent.

            If I’ve distilled it incorrectly, then I invite you to express it in the tersest, clearest possible way and, if I can’t see the error in it, I’ll convert to Christianity.

          • PONCHO

            Sadly, I have already expressed it “in the tersest, clearest possible way”, and it was “incoherent” to you. I’m unlikely to be able to express myself in simpler terms. There’s nothing more I can do for you. My job is simply to close the mouth. The Holy Spirit has to open the heart that is set against him.

          • Scott Marshall

            In that case, I’ll take a page from your playbook and declare myself the winner. The Holy Spirit won’t open my heart because He’s pretend. Have a nice day!

          • PONCHO

            Sorry, I just can’t give you that one. You see, I already WON when you typed your first word, since you presupposed the validity of logic and the inductive principle, which are “pretend” in your naturalistic worldview. PONCHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

        • PONCHO

          I can’t believe I missed this the first time:
          “Hitler and the Nazis believed the Christian god was on their side. You see the problem?”
          Yeah, I see the problem. This is a blatant ad hominem attack. You’re implying that the Nazi atrocities were the result of Hitler’s alleged Christian faith. Not only that, but you are assuming that the Christian God is on the side of anyone who thinks the Christian God is on their side. It makes a huge difference whether you are actually acting in harmony with what the Christian God commands (i.e., he is “on your side”), or you are just using his name to justify what you want to do. I could multiply the names of atheists who did immensely evil things, and say, “Joe Atheist believed there was no God, and butchered thousands. You see the problem?” But that, too, would be ad hom.

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