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10 comments | Wednesday, June 14, 2006

We often get side tracked when discussing issues with someone that holds a view contrary to our own. At the center of confusion is the lack of understanding toward the other person’s position and the failure to define our terms. More frustrating; however, is when the opposing viewpoint completely refuses to acknowledge ANY validly of your position because they either disagree or are “not convinced” by the case. In fact, they may even equate your position to believing in santa clause or fairies (a definite intellectual slap in the face).

In one of the more insulting factions of atheism, Brian Fleming, from Beyond Belief Media has come up with a ‘Statement of Belief’ that Christians must sign before they would even consider having a discussion with a believer. [Thanks to BK at Christian CADRE for bringing this to my attention.] Allegedly, Beyond Belief Media has provided the statement, in hopes that skeptics would require the signature of ‘Christians’ before a rational discussion can occur. Their “Statement of Belief” reduces the Christian worldview to mere irrationalism and blind, unsupported belief.

This statement is entirely insulting and idiotic. The Christian looses all ground before one can even start. Basically, one has to concede the falsity of Christianity, before discussing it. The ‘Statement of Belief’ is as follows:

STATEMENT OF BELIEF
By agreeing to the following statements, you are not agreeing that they settle any additional questions. You are only acknowledging that you understand the difference between evidence and faith. If you cannot sign this statement, you do not deserve to be taken seriously.

I acknowledge that the Bible is not infallible. It was created entirely by humans and may contain significant flaws.

I acknowledge that a claim can be part of Christian tradition and also be false.

I acknowledge that there is no known evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ that dates to the period of his alleged life.

I acknowledge that the names of the Gospels were most likely added well after their composition, and there is insufficient evidence to believe that these names correspond to the original writers.

I acknowledge that there is insufficient evidence to believe that any of the Gospels were written by disciples of Jesus Christ.

I acknowledge that it is common for religious cults to make things up.

I acknowledge that it is common for religions to influence each other, and for young religions to be derived from older religions.

I acknowledge that no figures such as "God" or "The Holy Spirit" or "Satan" performed any supernatural actions that had any effect upon the formation of early Christianity.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.

A Christian should never even consider signing this document (though I doubt any level headed Christian would). If a skeptic requires the statement to be signed—the “privilege” of there discussion is not worth it. However, I doubt that they really expect anyone sign it. Rather, it just a backhand and mockery toward believers.

Though, the idea of agreement on certain matters before engagement is not entirely absurd. In fact, on a more serious note, discussions could be much more fruitful if there were a common agreement bearing on the discussion. I know atheists can get frustrated with the fallacious methodology of some Christians and vise versa.

Accordingly, in light of Beyond Belief Media’s “Statement of Belief” contract, I have come up with ProTheism’s parody of the contract called “Preconditions of Engagement”(though some statements are tongue in cheek, this not the condescending material they have offered):

PRECONDITIONS OF ENGAGEMENT:

By agreeing to the following statements, you are not agreeing that they settle any additional questions. You are only acknowledging that you understand the difference between stating there is no evidence for God’s existence and not being convinced by the evidence for God’s existence. If you cannot sign this statement, you do not deserve to be taken seriously.

I acknowledge that Atheism isn’t a “lack of belief,” but the belief that God or gods do not exist. Moreover, I am not excluded from a burden of proof for “non-belief” since there is a basis for my position.

I acknowledge that science has not and cannot disprove the existence of God. Moreover, science has not proven atheism.

I acknowledge that theism is not the same as believing in fairies, santa clause, and pink unicorns.

I acknowledge that religion is not the major cause of war. I know that when it comes to the causes of war, religion comes after politics, economics, territory, natural resources and greed.

I acknowledge that because some alleged Christians committed heinous acts in the past that it doesn’t follow that it is what Christianity teaches, or that it invalidates Christianity.

I acknowledge that atheism itself can become fanatical and destructive. I know the Soviet Union was run by Brights. Stalin was an atheist, as were Mao Zedong and the Red Guards in China, and Pol Pot in Cambodia.

I acknowledge that atheistic regimes have killed more people in the past century than religion has killed in its entire history. So bringing up the crusades and witch hunts are counter productive to my case.

I acknowledge that the existence of evil is not proof that an all-good and all-powerful God does not exist.

I acknowledge that dogmatically asserting “there is no God” is a philosophically naïve statement that affirms a universal negative.

I acknowledge that micro-evolution is not proof of macro-evolution and that macro evolution is not a fact but a theory. Also, I know that the theory of evolution does not disprove the existence of God.

I acknowledge that God cannot create a rock that is too heavy for Him to move.

I acknowledge that I have no answer to the origin of life, or how the universe came into existence.

I acknowledge that saying “were just here”, or “it just is,” is not an argument.

I acknowledge that the statement that “it’s irrational to believe in things that can’t be tested scientifically with the five senses,” can’t be tested scientifically with the five senses and is a self refuting.

I acknowledge that Benny Hinn or other affiliates of the tele-evangelizing industry is not a representative of all Christianity.

I acknowledge that just because God has not appeared before my eyes, and justified His existence to my empirical satisfaction; it doesn’t mean He does not exist.

I acknowledge that if I can’t acquire God residue for my test tube, it doesn’t follow that God does not exist.

I acknowledge that skepticism does not equate to intellectualism. I know that it is not necessarily more rational to doubt something than it is to believe in something.

I acknowledge that geographic probability of a certain religion tells you nothing of the truth claims of the religion.

I acknowledge that just because most Christians I have spoke with cannot defend their faith and answer my questions, or that you cannot answer my questions, it doesn’t follow that my questions cannot be answered, or that my questions refute Christianity.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.

I suppose the list could go on and I would be interested in anyone’s additions. However, these are the general rubs that encumber many dialogues that I have had. Though I am only half serious, there is an element of sincerity in the “Preconditions of Engagement.” Likewise, I am sure many atheists can list their own frustrations with Christian slogans and flawed reasoning. It’s more likely that their experience in exchanges with Christians have been predominately wearisome. One can only point out logical fallacies so many times before credence crumbles and tensions overflow. I suspect this is why mockery, ridicule and hostility thrive in atheist literature. For the most part, the ridicule and backhanded mockery like Flemings “Statement of Beliefs” have troubled me; however, in retrospect, the following passage gives me ease:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake

Matthew 5:10-11



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10 Comments:

Blogger GooseHenry said...

Hehe, great!

If only they'd agree to this.

Discussions with non-believers sometimes tend to be an unlevel playing field since they always have the option of steamrolling:)

6/14/2006 10:32 PM

 
Blogger GooseHenry said...

You have to add:

I acknowledge that steamrolling, the art of firing off question after question with no time to formulate an answer between, is not a way to debate.

Haha, just kidding:)

6/15/2006 1:37 AM

 
Blogger Nog said...

This list is great!


I) "I acknowledge that dogmatically asserting “there is no God” is a philosophically naïve statement that affirms a universal negative."

"I acknowledge that saying “were just here”, or “it just is,” is not an argument.

I acknowledge that the statement that “it’s irrational to believe in things that can’t be tested scientifically with the five senses,” can’t be tested scientifically with the five senses and is a self refuting."


What atheists need is a massive dose of apriorist logic. God makes total sense. He's the only thing that makes total sense.

6/15/2006 6:53 PM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

I acknowledge that Brian Fleming is incapable and afraid to engage in an open minded debate unless it is already, in advance, stacked in his favour.(Hence his ludicrous list)

I acknowledge that if he did engage in debate without first having his little waiver signed this could possibly lead to him looking unintelligent.

I acknowledge that Brian should, in all fairness, also not be allowed to bring his own faith into the debate arena. That would include things that are inconclusive such as evolution and that there is no life after death. Both matter's require belief and therefore are disqualified from entering into the discussion.

I acknowledge under Brian Flemings list and my additives to it that Brian and I would essentially have nothing to say to another.

Like your list better BF. :)

6/15/2006 10:35 PM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

There is one irony in all this. Both lists are authored by a BF.

???cue twilight zone music???

6/15/2006 10:41 PM

 
Blogger Jim Jordan said...

Hi BF
I saved your list. Well written. Ironically, your list is reasonable and verifiable, while parallel universe-BF's list is pure dogma.
Good work,
Jim

6/16/2006 7:48 AM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Goose,

I agree, steam rolling is always irritating. The problem is that the question is never genuine under those circumstances. It’s more like; “let’s see if we can stump the theist.” Or even better, barriers in a pit of questions that takes books of material to cover. So before we can even answer, we drown.

Nog,

Yes, God is the only thing that makes good sense, but an atheist can always poke holes, or apparent holes in anything. Sometime you got to give it to them for their efforts.


TIO,

I dig your acknowledgements. When I thought of writing a parody to the “statement of belief”, I wasn’t sure what to write, but once I started, I realized that the list could be endless. And as far as the “BF” parallel goes—bleh!!! Why is the Canadian mind so wretched? The good thing is that “BF” is not an acronym for my true initials. It actually came from the long form “brain fry”. However, that name became counter productive (just think about it); so I shortened it. I have been thinking about revising it, but it might be awkward now. I was considering ‘Beowulf’ (heh).

Jim,

Thank you, but I am getting freaked out about the “BF” parallel universe :-} Lets just hope he stays in his universe, which is make believe, and I’ll stay here in reality!

6/16/2006 10:44 AM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

BF:

" Why is the Canadian mind so wretched?"

Probably because we are trying so hard to not be like Americans and are failing at it miserably. (LOL)

6/16/2006 3:32 PM

 
Blogger The Intolerant One said...

Alright BF. you were "slighted" last time for the lack of invite...just so you know the great gay debate continues with my latest entry.

Always appreciate your voice in it.

6/25/2006 12:33 PM

 
Blogger Beowulf said...

Thanks for the notice, but I have been buried in schoolwork and haven’t even been in touch with the blogging world. I am also going on vacation and trying to get everything up and running and ready to roll. I plan (hopefully) to be eons away from a wireless connection—it will be a better vacation ;-}. I will stop by before I go if I can.

6/27/2006 5:19 PM

 

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