My friend and fellow Townsville Humanists member (even though he’s in Melbourne now) Jonathan Meddings debated Christian apologist Robert Martin last week, doing a great job as usual. The notion was “Is Christianity a force for good in the world?” The opening addresses have been posted on youtube. Here they are, along with my remarks on Robert Martin’s. I can’t let Jonathan have all the fun, can I?
“don’t plan to defend corrupt Christianity” “Many people claiming to be believers”
A classic example of the “no true scotsman” fallacy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman
He is redefining Christianity to mean only those he personally approves of and excluding the rest.
“Good news” – The most hilarious rebuttal I’ve heard to this argument was made by Dan Barker at the Global Atheist Convention, starting at 11:36: http://youtu.be/15tvEFz3oeU?t=11m36s
“[The Christian message] is good news because it diagnoses and solves the biggest problem in the world, which is human corruption.”
Hold on a minute there.. mere minutes ago he told us he wasn’t going to defend “corrupt Christianity”. How is it possible for there to be corrupt christians if the message “diagnoses and solves” human corruption? They all have the bible/”Christian message”. Why doesn’t it diagnose and solve their problems?
He then goes on to talk about how Christianity is so wonderful in Africa, apparently forgetting that 158 million of those African christians are Catholics, which he says he disagrees with and won’t defend, yet is happy to claim any good they do. He should also, then, account for the MILLIONS of AIDS deaths brought about by the church’s opposition to condom use. The latest pope has stated that it might kinda sorta be ok to use condoms to prevent aids (to paraphrase), but the damage is already done.
“…for in the atheists universe there can be no such thing as the good”
“in the atheist universe the question of good is not even relevant”
Fuck you sir. The fact that Christian apologists don’t get punched in the face after implying atheists are devoid of morals is a great attestment to the fact that we are not.
The quotemine from Dawkins was about the physical universe, the hydrogen, the helium, the floating rocks, the physics. Physics doesn’t care about anything, it’s just physics. That doesn’t mean life that evolved enough to be intelligent and sentient can’t have morals.
If morality stems from where he says it does; god and the bible, that means that “good” is whatever it is that god says is good. So what if god said to torture babies? Wouldn’t that be good? “Of course not”, you will hear a believer reply. “God wouldn’t say that.” Why not? Because he’s good?
So even if you do think god exists, it should be clear that morality is based on reasoning, independent of whether a god reasoned it or not. We all have access to reason, so why not use reason instead of a dreadfully old and backward book when considering morality?
He then has to go back to the times of Plato to find an example of when Christian morality was superior to the thinking of the time. Even if we accept this, I thought the debate was about “is” not “was”? If he wants to play “was”, two can play. The Dark Ages, anyone?
“The Christian message affirmed the absolute equality of women”
Right. Like in this passage from the bible, Timothy 2:11-15:
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”
“Religion is good for your health”
Sure, the community of the church might have benefits, but so would any social group activity like this.
Paraphrasing: “Modern moral values all come from Christian thought”
Nonsense. It is secular thinking, reasoning, and humanist values that has dragged moral progress forward, despite religion kicking and screaming the whole way. The best that Christianity can claim is that it is only decades behind the wave of moral progress, rather than centuries as for other religions.
Anyway, enough of my ranting, you are probably better off listening to Jonathan:
Jonathan blogs over at The Carapace.
Update: Robert Martin replies to this blog post here: http://atheistforum.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/response-to-mophosophical-review-of-martinmeddings-debate/