Sunday, February 20, 2011

Polite Direct Firm Fair

Here's a YouTube clip that I first saw on Pharyngula, of Matt Dillahunty and Jeff Dee on the Atheist Experience TV show, answering caller "Mark" and his concerns/assertions about Matt and Jeff's road to hell: The Atheist Experience TV Show

I've watched this clip in its entirety three times in the last twenty four hours, impressed by how Polite, Direct, Firm, and Fair the two of them were in responding to Mark's comments. I might also add - the adjectives Patient, Empathetic and Effective come to mind, as well.

Rather than write a transcript, please watch the video.

Matt and Jeff make some good points that are frankly applicable to any introductory discussion with a believer:

  1. When you (the believer) chooses to believe that the outsider (the atheist or believer of another religion) is subject to divine punishment solely because they (the outsider) do not believe as the insiders do, then you immediately construct an artificial barrier to friendship and trust between you and the outsider [Jeff]

  2. What makes you believe what you believe? [Jeff and Matt]

  3. What's the evidence that the bible is divinely inspired? [Matt]

  4. How can you believe that god reveals himself to a few people, then leaves the [promulgation of this] to copies of translations of that revelation? [Matt]

  5. Faith is not the pathway to truth

  6. Why should I believe what you do? [Matt]

That's just a shallow scrape of the conversation. A few of the things that come up in my consideration of religion in general, and the question of god in particular, are these:

  1. God has never been observed, and his existence has never been satisfactorily rationalized

  2. God's existence cannot be disproved, because if he's not there, how do you prove it?

  3. Once you've accepted that there is a god (in spite of the lack of evidence and rational justification), what makes you think that a particular claim for god (e.g. the Old Testament) represents the right one?

  4. If you accept a specific claim for god (e.g. Yahweh), how do you rationalize and/or reconcile his lack of perfection, omniscience and omnipotence; and his capriciousness, pettiness, violence, oppressiveness, secretiveness, and all-around lack of admirable qualities?

  5. Why would a belief system that is based on the sayings or worship of this deity include the distrust for, exclusion of, or violence on people and groups outside the believers? Why would this be appealing and remotely pious or just?

... we could go on, but those are some pretty big hurdles that need to be overcome to mark the god under consideration as the one-and-only god that is worthy of consideration.

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