The 30-Second Debate

shot clockI’ve mentioned before that I favor a 30-second debate format for any and all debates between atheists and theists.  I think that so many debates are an utter waste of time because they never actually establish anything.  Take an article written over on Hausdorff’s blog, and for the record, this is being written the same day that article was released, showing just how far ahead I’m writing.  Now I admit to not watching the particular debate referenced in his article.  I tried but it was exactly the same as a dozen other debates I’ve seen in just the past couple of months alone and they are all pretty much identical.  The problem with each and every one of these debates is that nobody ever actually expects the theist to demonstrate that their claims about their god are factually true.

I treat every other woo claim exactly the same.  Bigfoot?  Trot me out a body.  Aliens?  Same thing.  Ghosts? Prove they are real.  Telepathy?  Read my mind under controlled conditions and get it 100% correct.  NDEs?  Let’s see you read that sign on top of the cabinet with perfect recall.  Why should God get any special treatment? If theists want to talk about God, the first thing they need to do is prove God is real.  If they cannot do so, then why should I take the existence of God any more seriously than I take the existence of leprechauns or unicorns?  This is something that needs to be pointed out to all religious apologists everywhere, there’s no more free lunch when it comes to debating their religious beliefs.  Put up or shut up.  The gauntlet is thrown down.

Of course, the second you say this, they get upset and call you intolerant and unreasonable, but why is this unreasonable?  Because they can’t do it?  Why not?  Failure to back up claims with evidence is exactly why we shouldn’t take those claims seriously.  That’s how every rational endeavor humanity engages in works, why is religion the exception?

They can’t really claim that God magically exists outside of any rational ability to evaluate because they, themselves, have simply invented that quality.  Look over the history of Christianity, God used to be easily verifiable, but as science and reason grew, theists realized that they were dangerously close to being found out and kept stuffing God into smaller and smaller holes until they finally just declared that God is undetectable. Why? Because that’s what they needed to do in order to keep from having their fraud discovered. It’s no different from some psychic trying to win the James Randi Foundation prize by saying that his psychic powers are inherently unable to be studied.  Sorry.  Doesn’t work that way.  Next!

I do not accept that God is an unchallengeable given.  I do not accept that God is inherently impossible to objectively evaluate.  If that’s the scam then it deserves to be tossed onto the trash heap of con artistry, it is a sham, a hoax, the ultimate deception in a long, long line of religious rackets.  You don’t get to declare that your beliefs are both correct and that they cannot be challenged.  What’s to stop me from inventing a god out of whole cloth, like Bobo the Tree God, who can magically avoid any test you can conceivably give to him, yet is all powerful and all knowing and in control of the universe?  How is that any different than what Christians or Muslims do today, other than the fact that I know I’m spinning a bullshit yarn and they buy into theirs hook, line and sinker?

So, no more.  No more word salad.  No more undemonstrated claims.  No more blind faith.  No more free lunch. Put up or shut up.  That’s my new position when it comes to religion.

7 thoughts on “The 30-Second Debate

  1. Funny that you should mention Bigfoot. I've actually had a couple of atheists want to argue with me about that one, claiming that Bigfoot probably exists and that I'm being hyper-skeptical of the evidence. I have already realized that atheism is no guarantee of skepticism, critical thinking, or much of anything else, but this would have convinced me again if I needed any convincing.

    As for what you are saying here about gods, I agree completely. I have yet to encounter a theist who can come up with an intelligible and logically coherent definition of whichever god he or she prefers, much less provide meaningful evidence that such an entity exists. I'm not inclined to take claims of belief in something unintelligible all that seriously.

    1. I'm as open-minded on Bigfoot as I am on God. Bring me objective evidence and I'll accept that it's real. So far, neither side has managed to do so. Until they do, the standards remain the same and it's not overly skeptical to demand that a claim made about something that exists in reality have significant evidence to support it. In fact, it's underly-skeptical to accept that such a thing exists without that evidence. It's too bad that these irrational folks just can't get that through their heads.

    2. "claiming that Bigfoot probably exists and that I'm being hyper-skeptical of the evidence"

      I'm with Cephus here, I would treat this claim exactly like I do religious claims. Replace "bigfoot" with "God" and I hear this all the time, of course they never actually provide this evidence. I'm curious what evidence they presented along with this statement.

      My recent post Well Said [30 Nov 2013]

      1. I'm an atheist and an aBigfootist for the exact same reasons, because there is insufficient evidence to believe that these things exist. Bring me evidence or stop making the claim. I honestly don't respect atheists who fall for other forms of woo, to me, atheism includes a means of thinking rationally and logically. If you can't do that, I don't want you in my club.

  2. As for what you are saying here about gods, I agree completely. I have yet to encounter a theist who can come up with an intelligible and logically coherent definition of whichever god he or she prefers, much less provide meaningful evidence that such an entity exists. I’m not inclined to take claims of belief in something unintelligible all that seriously.

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