Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
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05-11-2013, 03:51 PM
Question Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
'sup fagz! Heart

Some months back a crony (who has the disadvantage of being a believer) invited me to be a guest speaker (read 'token atheist') at a gathering of "Spirituality in the Pub".

It's a thing the fisheaters do. Imagine frumpy over 60 women in orthopedic sandals sitting around hearing nice talks from missionaries who've just come back from a spell taming the darkies in the hot countries and you'll get the idea. (Click for relevant linkage)

Turns out the sparkle has gone out of these events. Apparently tales of leprosy, chloroquin tablets and drop toilets only have so much appeal for the modern postmenopausal widow with too much time on her hands.

Hoodathort, right?

So my mate had the brill idea of having a believer versus the unbeliever event. He asked and my inner egomaniac pushed me to agree.

It seems that the temple police got wind of these doings, ratted to the diocese and the bishop (a muscular, orthodox type) put the spear through such dubious shennanigans.

Fairy 'nuff. SiP is an official operation of the Jesuits and obedience to the local ordinary is a stated aim of this movement. What's the point of wearing the funny hat if you can't crack down on apostasy and mischief when it breaks out in your bailiwick? I mean, ignoring this sort of carry on will almost certainly lead to an outbreak of teen unwed pregnancies and people marrying their dogs.

Undeterred, my old china plate decides to organise another event (non-SiP) in association with some local evangelical and pentecostal types. He asks me if I'm still interested and I think, why the fuck not? Some of these silly cunts think the earth is 6000 years old. Why not the lulz, if nothing else?

Now I'm fairly well across my material. I've read the books. I did some philosophy at university. I'm told I done speak real good in front of folks and I'll make sure I'm almost sober when proceedings kick off. I'm aware of most of the tricks the churchies try on -- ad homs, straw men, the Gish Gallop and all that other stuff. I'll have a little reading list with me, just in case I'm asked.

I'm also aware that using those stupid dog latin phrases (post hoc ergo propter hoc anyone?) or screeching FALLACY! as a debating technique so beloved of many internet atheists is boorish and inappropriate.

I don't expect to change any minds. Beliefs are most likely hard wired into brains and difficult to change.

My question. Has anyone here ever done this sort of thing before? Are there any other old traps for young players I may not have considered here?

All advices gratefully received.

-- Max

I came into this world screaming and covered in someone else's blood. I am not afraid to go out of it that way.
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05-11-2013, 04:03 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
What is your goal?

If your goal is to practice debating go with the facts, tear down his arguments and be terse ( I've learned that expression from Chas who is also reading this thread at the moment)

If you want to win over the crowd, fuck facts , appeal to the emotion. With old folks that works much better.

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05-11-2013, 04:16 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
(05-11-2013 04:03 PM)Slowminded Wrote:  What is your goal?

If your goal is to practice debating go with the facts, tear down his arguments and be terse ( I've learned that expression from Chas who is also reading this thread at the moment)

If you want to win over the crowd, fuck facts , appeal to the emotion. With old folks that works much better.

I'm pretty sure terse doesn't work well with little old ladies; it doesn't always work that well here. Consider

I'm all about the evidence. If you can get the concept across, the Bible is not the evidence, it's the claim.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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05-11-2013, 04:25 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
Go gently on the old ones Wink

ROFL at your OP, your turn of phrase is... unique Big Grin

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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05-11-2013, 04:25 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
(05-11-2013 04:16 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(05-11-2013 04:03 PM)Slowminded Wrote:  What is your goal?

If your goal is to practice debating go with the facts, tear down his arguments and be terse ( I've learned that expression from Chas who is also reading this thread at the moment)

If you want to win over the crowd, fuck facts , appeal to the emotion. With old folks that works much better.

I'm pretty sure terse doesn't work well with little old ladies; it doesn't always work that well here. Consider

I'm all about the evidence. If you can get the concept across, the Bible is not the evidence, it's the claim.
That's what I meant, if he just wants to rip this guy a new asshole he can be terse, but if he wants old ladies not to have a hart attack when their grandchildren tell them they are atheists it's more useful to appeal to emotion.
Old ladies don't give a shit about evidence, they are close to death, they prefer comfort to proof.

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05-11-2013, 04:44 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
SiP.
Just tell jokes.
Obviously they just need an excuse to drink.

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Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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05-11-2013, 04:51 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
I don't know - old gals can be pretty accepting especially when there is practical, common sense information coming at them. Appeal to their independence, common sense, ingenuity and ability to think for themselves.

I'd just try to be really positive and open and relate the notion that the current religious debate seems to be just more of the fringe trying to get people to "choose sides" in the latest upswing of radical theist extremism. This religious extremism in the US has been rising since the late '70s and may very well be a backlash response of the counter culture of the '60s; the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the sexual revolution, etc.,.

This might be enough to remind them that they indeed became adults in the '60s and since it was pretty fucking awesome... well, then ... religion seems to be kind of a drag. Wink

Also, skimming a copy of God Is Not Great before you go, might be a good idea.

Good luck. Thumbsup

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05-11-2013, 05:01 PM
RE: Advice required! Invited to speak at a debate with a theist!
Cheers for the responses! ^__^

Well as I said in the OP, the audience will be mixed. Catholics, main stream protestants, evangelicals (Baptists and the like) and some pentecostals. Possibly a couple of Jews.

I'm even told there might be a Mormon! Won't that be jolly?

My purpose is not to rip anyone up. I don't think attacking people is an effective way to go about this sort of business. Nor do I care for sneering at those presenting opposing arguments or any of that carry on.

I save that stuff for partisan politics. Nothing I enjoy more than eviscerating a tory or, even better, a libertarian. Evil_monster

My purpose, I suppose, is to confront some of the misconceptions believers have about unbelievers. I'm sure most of you are familiar with what I mean. The idea that we hate Jesus or have no morals because without God how can you? or that we want to ban christmas and so on.

That doesn't mean I'm not prepared to be blunt about my take on the assertions believers make about reality. I'm not worried if someone gets the tom tits because I dismiss the divinity of Christ or the Virgin Birth as so improbable that we may safely discount them without fear of contradiction.

And, if the opportunity arises, I'll even have a crack at Islam. No reason to let the rug-kissers off easily.

Similarly I'm not going to shy away from talking about how I see religion as, on balance, a corrosive force in society. But I think that can be done without being a jerk.

-- Max

I came into this world screaming and covered in someone else's blood. I am not afraid to go out of it that way.
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