As many people might know, I’ve been hunting high and low for a rational theist to debate for quite some time now. I’ve been actively looking on forums, blogs, Twitter (a waste of time, I know), IRC and other places for anyone who is intelligent, educated and can defend their beliefs credibly. Keep in mind, I’m not talking about a rational person who is also a theist, I want a theist who is rational in their theism. I want rational debaters who can address their religion in a factual, evidence-based manner.
I’ve come up completely dry so far.
Part of my problem, I think, is that I’m too nice about it. Yes, that’s right, I know it’s hard to believe because I don’t usually pull punches or take names, I demand the very best and don’t give quarter, but in this case, I really am. See, when I go to debate sites, particularly religious debate sites, I restrict myself to only the public, non-specific-religion areas. If there’s a forum for debating religion, I’m in. If there’s a forum for discussion Christianity among the faithful, I respect their right to have a “safe zone” and don’t bother them. I don’t go barging in and demand they debate me, that’s a dick move and I don’t like it when they do it to atheist discussion forums, I’m not going to do it to them.
That doesn’t mean I might not go in and watch for a while silently, I can lurk and see if any of them have any good arguments or seem to be handling their religious beliefs rationally. Unfortunately, this is extremely rare and most of the people to whom rationality means anything tend to be the most liberal of theists, who understand that their beliefs are intensely personal and emotional and they have no actual reason to believe any of it outside of their own personal desire for it to be true. I’m not looking for personal desires though, I’m looking for actual evidence and nobody seems to have that. The most reasonable people simply admit they have nothing that would convince anyone else and refuse to debate the point. There seems to be a very sharp divide between the crazy fundamentalists who scream that their own personal experiences with a god are inviolable and they cannot possibly be wrong and those who know their arguments are empty and don’t push it on others. Where are the people in the middle who hold strong beliefs, yet think that their beliefs are demonstrable and actually understand what logical fallacies are and try not to use them? Those are the people I want and those are the people that apparently don’t exist.
So I’ve looked at 8 religious forums, multiple channels on 4 IRC networks, at least 2 dozen religious blogs that claim they have a rational reason to believe and none of them have come even close to what I’m looking for. I’ve even extended some offers to debate with a couple of them that I thought were most reasonable and while most have simply ignored me, the few that have bothered to respond have turned me down because, I think, they recognize that I’m asking for something they are not capable of providing.
The thing is, what I’m asking shouldn’t be that difficult for any credible belief. What we see among most theists is equivalent to what we see among conspiracy theorist crackpots. Mike and I examined that in some detail on The Bitchspot Report Podcast a couple of weeks ago and the more you look at both, the more you realize just how similar the two belief systems are. This is really something that needs to be spread around, that there really is nothing functionally different between believing in God and believing in Bigfoot or UFO abductions or aliens running the government. As a society, we generally roll our eyes when someone starts saying we didn’t go to the moon, why don’t we do the same thing when someone believes in miracles or angels or the like?
I’ve really run out of places to look. Therefore, I’d like to put a call out to my readers and see if they have any ideas or if they think I ought to give up entirely. Are there any rational, intelligent theists in the world that can actually defend their beliefs with critical thinking and evidence? Or am I just wasting my time?
I’d really like to know.