Reason Rally: Tips for Dialogue

Can some help be given for the debates at Reason Rally? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’d like today’s post to be about helping with the dialogue what will go on at Reason Rally. However, in the interest of fairness, I think the Christians that I know that are able to go are very well equipped and I want to make sure the other side has some information to even things out on how they can have better dialogues.

First, please keep in mind that many of us read books and we prefer books that don’t have the word “Illustrated” on the cover. This also means that you will need to know about the books that we read. It also means that you will need to have more than a google search. In this area, never ever refer to Wikipedia. We know you treat it seriously, but we don’t.

Second, keep in mind that saying dead people coming back to life is absurd doesn’t faze us. That’s something from your worldview, and if there is no God, then we agree that it is absurd. You need to remember that we do not share that worldview and it does no good to say our worldview is wrong because it has things in it that are absurd to your worldview.

Third, avoid using the word faith to refer to believing something without evidence. We know that you believe that this is the definition of faith even though you have no evidence that any biblical writer intended the word faith to mean that. When you use faith and treat is as if we believe things without evidence, it leads us to further be certain of our position that you’re clueless.

Fourth, keep in mind that the scientific method is great for science, but not for everything else, and that verificationism has been a dead movement for a number of decades now. We know you are behind on the times on this, but that is what happens when there is no study done in philosophical matters due to science becoming the way, the truth, and the life.

Fifth, we are well-read with various opinions on matters that are secondary. Do not assume that we all believe in a 6000 year-old Earth or that we all interpret every biblical passage literally or that we all live and die on the words of William Lane Craig. Yes. We know that you treat Pope Dawkins that way, but we do not treat Craig that way. You might be surprised to know that at times, some of us actually disagree with him. We don’t blindly accept someone because they’re a theist, which is different from what we see from the atheist side of blindly accepting someone because they’re an atheist.

Sixth, when it comes to Craig, for those of us who do believe in some of his arguments, just saying “Craig has been refuted” or “Craig is a proven liar” or something like that. That means no more to us than if we come to you and just say “Dawkins has been refuted” without an argument.

Seventh, don’t assume that just because you believe you have proven evolution in a dialogue that every argument for God’s existence becomes irrelevant. Believe it or not, some of us actually have no problem with evolutionary theory and some of us realize that God’s existence is not based on filling a function alone.

Eighth, never say that Jesus never existed. When you do that, we automatically know that you are not worth taking seriously. Believe it or not, many atheists can accept that Jesus existed as a historical person and go on to lead lives that they find entirely consistent with atheism. Ask your doctor if it will work for you.

Ninth, when referring to books, be sure that you have read some of ours. This might sound strange to you, but we actually like to read books by atheists. It would be appreciative if you would read books by Christians. Note we mean intellectual Christians. “Your Best Life Now” doesn’t count.

Tenth, don’t assume that Ray Comfort and Josh McDowell are the peak of Christian apologetics. Some of us actually prefer the older arguments. We want to know if you can deal with Augustinian or Thomistic thought. Sure, we read moderns. But they’re just standing on the shoulders of giants.

Eleventh, as soon as you mention fairies, unicorns, Santa Claus, or anything similar, we already know to discount you. Believe it or not, using words like this are not synonymous with actually having an argument. You need to show that any such analogy would work and do so without assuming your worldview.

Twelfth, learn to critically examine your own authorities. Believe it or not, Dawkins can be wrong about some things and he actually is not an authority in philosophy, theology, or biblical studies. Personally, you should seek to move away from Dawkins if you want to have respect as an atheist. Sadly enough, your showing up at the Reason Rally is probably going to be an indication that you’re already too far gone in fundamentalist thinking.

This is a lot, but I do realize that you really need help in these dialogues and I seek to be fair. Following steps like this could lead to you coming to the dialogue with an informed opinion instead of just rants, and we would all appreciate that much more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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