Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Debating Dishonesty & Why Lying for Jesus is Profitable

For those of you who keep up on Pharyngula and, you are probably well aware of the proposed debate between Richard Dawkins and a brain-dead idiot. I don't wish to publicize the idiot (as that is all he is looking for) but I do have an opinion on what should/shouldn't be done in response.

As much as I would love to see someone school the faithhead with such skill that Richard Dawkins could, I think the bigger picture needs to be considered, I would strongly recommend that Richard (and the rest of us) ignore the tool and not have the debate occur. This will be (wrongfully) taken as intellectuals being too afraid to debate creationists but I doubt much would be changed if the other approach was taken - short of publicizing the creationist.

The reality is that people who believe in creationism aren't interested in the truth and they won't spend the time looking up the facts of the story. If we can't trust them to see why it is that Richard won't debate creationists, can we trust them to source/fact check debate points? If they won't do the easier of the two, they're almost certainly not going to do the more difficult one!

Considering the debating tactics of Creationists, it is clear that they have no problem lying for jesus. Believers want nothing more than to believe and will take anything that supports their belief (even lies). Believers have been cherry-picking the bible and real evidence for thousands of years - selecting the parts they agree with and explaining away (or ignoring) the parts they disagree with or can't quite stomach believing.

The real problem with debating creationists is that they aren't interested in a debate. There is a famous, but unattributed, quote - "You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." You can't, honestly, debate someone who doesn't wish to reciprocate with honesty. As I mentioned earlier, people seldom check sources and facts and, for this reason, a person that is willing to lie is able to win a debate.

The reason people are willing to lie for jesus is simple economics - a response to demand. Books by apologetics and attacks on atheistic literature sell like hot cakes. With hundreds of millions of people wanting to have support for their beliefs, the market is ripe with people willing to throw their money away (need I explain that?).

Unfortunately for people who wish to write books on the intellectually sound position of atheism, most people who have come to the conclusion by logic and reason don't need someone to do the thinking for them. We hardly need to look to books for support of our lack of beliefs in a god.

I will admit that I, too, add to the commercial success of people willing to lie for jesus - I regularly purchase their books in hopes of learning more about their arguments (or lack of) and am in hope that someday one will present some convincing evidence (or, at least, a new argument). Even though it is highly unlikely, it is not impossible. As Bill Maher says, we're about selling doubt, not certainty.

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