I just came across a long-running debate on “Is there enough evidence to support a deistic god” between a self-professed atheist and someone who describes themselves as a fundamentalist, Biblical-inerrantist Christian. I’ve seen plenty of these kinds of debates go on, even the big-name Christian apologists will often debate for a deistic god instead of the God they actually claim to believe in, but I always ask myself, what is the sense of debating for a deity that you don’t actually worship? Is it because the God you actually profess is absurd and cannot be defended rationally so you might as well set your sights lower and go for a generic deity that might be a little simpler to argue for?
Personally, I’d never enter into a debate like that. I’m not interested in my debate opponent picking a topic at random, I want them to defend what they actually believe and prove that their faith is actually logically and objectively valid. You can be sure that at the end, assuming they’ve demonstrated their point, and even if they haven’t, they’ll try to twist things to say that their God is actually real.
Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. It makes no more sense than claiming that demonstrating Vishnu is real somehow also proves the Christian God is real as well. The deistic god and a theistic god are not only two entirely different things, they are entirely antithetical to each other. Proving that a deistic deity is real also has the effect of proving that no theistic deities can possibly exist. Therefore, our religious friend above is continually shooting himself in the foot with each and every post he writes because he’s attempting to show that the God he worships cannot possibly be real!
I’m sure he hasn’t realized that.
This is really why I refuse to engage in debates over theoretical things, just for the fun of it. When the individual has no real horse in the race, when they’re not personally engaged with the outcome, what’s the point? Besides, it’s a no-lose proposition for the theist. If they win the debate, they can pull the bait-and-switch between the god they argued for and their god and if they lose, well, it proves nothing about the god they worship at all, does it?
It’s not just the amateur atheists who get taken in by this, big-name Christian apologists do this all the time too. I’ve seen people like William Lane Craig push points that simply do not apply to the God he believes in, mostly because I think he feels the need to make a point when he’s losing.
For atheists who are debating, insist that your opponent only support and defend the gods they actually believe in. This isn’t an academic endeavor, it’s debating position against position, belief against belief. The best belief, or lack of belief, ought to win and if they have no personal stock in the outcome, why bother running the race to begin with?