An Excellent Discussion/Debate Between an Atheist and a Theist

I recently discovered this podcast called the Ex-Christian Monologues, and the first episode is a conversation turned debate between ex-preacher, now atheist activist Dan Barker and Jason Gastrich, Director of Jesus Christ Saves Ministries. Even though it’s nearly two hours, it’s worth a listen. Click here if you want to listen for yourself, or here if you want to read the full transcript.

Here are some highlights:

Jason: Well the core message of the Bible I think could probably be understood by a first grader, second grader, it’s really not that difficult to see the plan that God has laid out for us in the Bible.

Dan: I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to show it to my first grader. I mean, it’s a pretty ugly book when you look at it, and it’s a real demeaning book to human nature. . . . [Crosstalk] . . . And the whole concept of salvation, the whole idea that there needs to be a salvation, is a real insult to humanity. In other words, we are all deserving of damnation. We’re no good. We can’t think. We can’t figure it out. We all have to bow like humble slaves before this master who tells us what is right and wrong, who has expressed his grace to us. How lucky we are that he has died and given his free gift to us, so that we can avoid this punishment that we all deserve. Now that really is an ultimate insult that cuts to the core of what it means to be human, and it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You raise kids to think that, “Oh, I’m a sinner, I might go to Hell,” that’s horrible. And “I’m no good, I need to surrender.” Well I mean, a lot of people grow up with this attitude that they are no good, and that they are sinners, and they act it out.

Dan: Yeah, I know what that is. “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair . . .” [Genesis 6:2] I know that, and . . . But Jason, are you telling me this with a straight face? I mean do you really sincerely believe this stuff about the angels coming down and having sex with human beings? [Crosstalk.] That was a, that’s a myth. I mean that’s part of the Bible that is legendary and mythical. You don’t really believed that happened, do you?

Jason: Well it’s compounded again in Jude, and yes, absolutely . . .

Dan: You do. You actually believe that some angelic creatures came down from Heaven and . . .? I mean, this is the twenty-first century, Jason. You’re an adult. You’re talking about devils and angels and demons and . . . Think about what you’re saying and how ludicrous this appears to an intelligent person. That stuff did not happen. Those are myths that the Israelites made up to try to explain, in their own bumbling way, what the origin of the world was like…

Jason: I don’t doubt that you have. Um, do you think that it takes blind faith, or would you call it, I like to call it, “informed faith,” because I don’t feel like I just have a blind, empty faith. I feel like my faith is based on the concepts in God’s Word.

Dan: But why faith in the first place? I mean, what good is the concept? Why even put that word out in front of you to say we should have “blind faith” or “informed faith”? Why not just say, “Use your mind,” and use your free mind to examine and decidefor yourself whether you think this is true or false? What does faith have . . . like when you use the word “faith,” you’re admitting that the assertions you are accepting by faith cannot be accepted on their own merits. You need something extra. You need something above and beyond the evidence to make it true. Anytime someone uses the word “faith,” its a cop out. They’re admitting defeat. Faith is a kind of agnosticism because if you knew it was true, you wouldn’t need faith.

Dan: Even today. Read Henry Morris. Read Duane Gish.

Jason: I’ve read [some of] them. I have their books on the shelf right here.

Dan: Well read them. The Fossils Say No! What they’re pretending is if you could somehow demolish evolution, that would make creationism win by default, without having to actually provide a case for creationism. They come to creationism a priori.They come to it as true, regardless, and the way they think they can win the fight is by destroying evolution. Suppose they did. Suppose they destroyed evolution completely. They can’t, but suppose they did. Now, where’s their case? Where’s theirscience for their Book of Genesis? They have nothing. And you have to admit there is nothing. There’s no experiments, there’s no observational records, there’s no data that’s being kept. All you have is a belief of something that was taught to you in Sunday school.

Dan: It says that it’s the nachash, if you know the Hebrew word. And so the Book of Genesis has these two contradictory creation stories, that cannot be reconciled and yet we’re supposed to pretend that this is allowed to stand as a scientific account of the origin of [humanity.]

Jason: It’s funny that you mention that. I just got that question in my forum yesterday, and I’m going to get to that. I have the answer to it, but I just need to do a little more research to go ahead and put it right.

Dan: Yeah, and you think in advance that there must be an answer to this, right? Don’t you see how you are committed in advance? With your kind of thinking–I’m trying to be ad hominem here, but I used to be like you–but the way I used to think, I was actually blind to the possibility that the Bible had contradictions, because I would not allow myself to see what was before my very eyes. The Bible is discrepant and contradictory, and yet if you go into it with the mindset that there must be an answer, and “I’ll get back to you and find it for you,” well then of course you’re going to find something. I mean, we could all find . . .

Dan: Well, it doesn’t bother me. It’s like Christians use that all the time, you know: “You’re going to risk your eternal life if you don’t think the way I do.” Fine. If there’s a God who wants to send me to Hell for thinking for myself, then let him do it. Let him prove what a macho man he is and send me to Hell. Will that make me worship him any more? Will that make me have any more respect for the integrity of the supposed “Word” of his? No it won’t. I’m proud of the skepticism. I’m happy to be a critic. I’m glad that somebody should denounce, and put this very God under the microscope. Don’t you see what I’m saying?

I would feel sorry for Gastrich if he weren’t so arrogant in his ignorance.


2 Responses to “An Excellent Discussion/Debate Between an Atheist and a Theist”

  1. 1 kevinbbg November 9, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    If you haven’t read Barker’s “Losing Faith in Faith” you should. He started out as a teenage preacher, even wrote songs they still sing, until he left the dark side.

  2. 2 EnlightningLinZ November 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I definitely intend to read that, I recently started listening to his podcast Freethought Radio and I’m enjoying that. Although I think that his strength, as well as his co-host Annie Laurie Gaylor (sp?) are stronger when they’re debating people who don’t agree with them…on their show they don’t tend to do that, though they play the occasional clip and I always enjoy those.

    I love hearing from ex-preachers…they seem to be the best at formulating arguments against religion…Dan Barker, Matt Dillahunty, I can’t think of any other names but I know the Infidel Guy has interviewed some great ones. It’s always interesting to hear from someone who has come from the deepest commitment to religion to atheism.

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