Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Rebuttal, Part One

For this to make sense, please check out my post exchange with Dr. Luke Conway here and here.

First and foremost, thanks go out to The Apologetic Professor. It takes a high level of confidence in one’s beliefs to offer it to an entirely new, and let’s face it, less-than-receptive audience. Luke has this confidence. He also was willing to lend his audience’s eyes to a point of view contrary to what he believes. This is not common, not at all.

Here’s were it gets mildly insulting, Luke, but bare with me. The Apologetic Professor wasn’t my first choice for this meeting of the minds. I contacted the authors of other apologetic blogs first, most notably Apologetics315 and Truthbomb Apologetics. My motives were selfish to a degree. I knew these sites had a page rank higher than my own which would translate into my words reaching further into the interwebs. I got a lot of “thanks, but no thanks.” I pressed on researching other Christian blogs, finding few I liked, but many that were reputable within their community. I reached out those who were my peers in popularity. No takers. At this point I was going to cut my losses and write a post about how Christian apologists are so insecure about their own arguments that they’d rather preach to their choir than potentially save souls. I couldn’t deal with rejection any other way than to assume they were worried my words would topple the house of cards they built for their flock.

I never wrote that post. A last scan of Google brought me to The Apologetic Professor. At this point I was more concerned with content than metrics and his content was far more appealing than what I saw up until then. I found that Luke was an actual Professor of Psychology, which didn’t worry me nearly as much as it normally does when I find an outspoken believer in the education system. Sure, he’s well spoken and intelligent, but he also injects humor into otherwise dry and polarizing material. I’m a sucker for humor.

Thus ends my back-handed compliment. On to the the first part of my rebuttal.

“Seek and you will find.”

The Apologetic Professor offers decent advice, but not great. We see things through our own subjective lens developed by both conditioning and experience. Every story I've heard about signs from God are dripping with confirmation bias and superstition. We tend to find what we want to find, especially when the experiment is uncontrolled. So seek away...using the scientific method.

The whole point of the scientific method is to strip away biases and take the observer as much out of the equation as possible. Praying for a sign, seeing a white bird fly past at some point throughout the day, and interpreting the bird as the requested sign is pointless. Praying specifically for a white bird to fly past at high noon and recording the results is a much better start to ascertain the power of prayer. Find a way to objectively test your hypothesis, then test it, then repeat the test. Otherwise it's all just good vibes and vapor miracles.

And please, apologists, never assume the atheist you're speaking too hasn't sought God. Some haven't, but most have. I don't have stats for this other than anecdotal evidence and the fact that most people in the world are born into religious families and cultures. The topic of God comes up, often, and most of us pursue it. After all, who wouldn't want a personal relationship with a supreme being? I sought a few variations of the God Luke believes in. I didn't find him.

I will continue the rebuttal to the Apologetic Professor's post in three more parts to cover the three major points of the piece. Until then, check the comments from the original post. They are doing my job for me.


  1. I have to say he had a lot of boldness to not only agree to do this (I don't think most Christian bloggers would do that), but to take the time to stick around, and respond to all the comments on the guest post.

    1. "I don't think most Christian bloggers would do that"

      I don't need to think that. It's true, I have results. :-)

  2. The fact that there are so many apologists out there who are only willing to preach to the sheep but not take on the wolves really does prove how little validity there is to much of the Christian apologetics we see out there today. I've tried to debate theists on the blog before too and it always comes to the same end that you saw here, a whole lot of preaching and empty claims and not much reason and rationality. It's something I've watched many times online, the theist will try to same old tired methods that work great on other theists, but not at all on atheists who don't take rhetoric, we demand evidence and theists have none. It will eventually get to "I'm right, you're wrong, so there" and he'll storm off to declare victory. That's how it always works.

  3. I would actually like to see a study on previous belief systems in atheists myself. I think it would be fascinating.

    I will be popping in again to read further updates, and thanks to Dr. Luke.

    1. I'd like to see that study too. I'll ask the guy at if he knows of one.

  4. I've had a lot of bad experiences with theistic apologists online; they tend to be pretty aggressive, prone to proselytising and complete unwilling to even consider an opposing point of view.

    So hats off to Doctor Conway. It's always nice to see someone willing to engage in reasonable discussion, whatever side of the fence they sit on.

  5. Good job. I love debating with theists so I share your passion Grundy. I've had a few online debates myself and it's interesting in how you can get a different version of Christianity every time you debate a Christian, and yet can also hear the same old tired used and recycled arguments they throw at you over and over again.

    I've come to notice that everyone is trying to sound like William Lane Craig, both Muslims and Christians alike. There is a stunning lack of originality on the side of the theists.