A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 2

This is part 2 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my first post and Andrew's reply.Andrew,Thanks again for your fairness and hospitality at the Midtown Scholar debate last month. It was a pleasure for me as well! You'll have to come out to NYC some time in the coming months so I can repay it.So, with your assent, let's table the debate about morality for now and turn to this question of how it is that people come to be … [Read more...]

My Debate at the Midtown Scholar


This past weekend, I was at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for my first ever in-person debate, part of the "Think! Of God and Government" debate series I'm having with Christian author Andrew Murtagh.The Midtown Scholar is a huge, gorgeous independent bookstore - I'm told it used to be a movie theater - with a cafe and reading area surrounded by tall bookshelves and murals, and a second-floor viewing gallery that overlooks the rest of the space. I got there just a short time … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 1

Author's Note: This post kicks off the "Of God and Government" debate series, featuring me and a Christian author, Andrew Murtagh, which I intend to become a semi-regular feature on Daylight Atheism. You can read Andrew's opening statement on Patheos' Versus blog, and this is my initial reply. I'll also be appearing at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Andrew on December 14 for a live debate.* * *Hello Andrew,Thanks for contacting me! I appreciate your kind words … [Read more...]

My Thoughts on the Civility Pledge


My Patheos colleague Dan Fincke has proposed a civility pledge for people engaged in public discussion.I think his motivations are good, and most of the pledge is fine. I completely agree with his points about using specific charges rather than abusive epithets, about recognizing that members of marginalized groups may have experiences which I lack, and about refraining from slurs based on ethnicity, gender or sexuality. I also particularly like his point about the difference between safe … [Read more...]

The Twitter Report: Could It Be… Satan?

In my early days of blogging, I would have exhaustive debates, sometimes lasting for weeks, with believers who came across one of my websites and posed a challenge to me. But although it was fun in its time, I've wearied of it, and with occasional rare exceptions, I don't argue with theists over e-mail anymore. I've rehearsed those arguments so many times, and they're usually so well coached in the corresponding apologetics, that it often seems less like a real debate and more like two actors … [Read more...]

Intelligence Squared: Would the World Be Better Without Religion?

On Tuesday night, I attended a debate at NYU's Skirball Center that was part of the Intelligence Squared debate series, "Resolved: The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion". Supporting the atheist side were Matthew Chapman and A.C. Grayling, while Dinesh D'Souza and David Wolpe were arguing on behalf of religion. You can read the NYT's recap here, or watch the video. I was furiously scribbling notes throughout the debate, so these are my thoughts on how it went down. (My wife Elizabeth … [Read more...]

Creationist Target Practice

Yesterday, someone calling himself Rev. Skeens posted the following comment. I rejected it since it had no perceptible connection to the post it was submitted under, but then I had second thoughts. Granted that this is beginner-level stuff and hardly challenging, but it's been a while since we honed our debating skills on an actual creationist around here, so I thought it might be entertaining to throw it out there and use it for target practice. Who wants to have a go?Secular archeologist's … [Read more...]

My Notes on the Ideological Turing Test

Following up my post analyzing the results of Unequally Yoked's ideological Turing test, this one lists how I voted on each of the atheist candidates. I took notes as I was going through them, trying to flag what stood out to me as evidence of genuineness or fakery. As you can see, some of my criteria turned out to work, some of them didn't.#1This person had an excellent answer for the first question, discussing how science has consistently been a superior method of illuminating the truth … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Ideological Turing Test

The ideological Turing test that was running at Unequally Yoked has concluded, and if you're like me, you couldn't wait to find out how we did. Well, the results are in: here's the answer key (some real surprises there!), and here's how the voting shook out for the atheist round and for the Christian round. Read those first, and then come back for my thoughts on the outcome.First of all, I want to thank Leah for running this contest, and I especially want to commend her Christian participants. … [Read more...]

Cast Your Ballots Now!

I wrote last month about the ideological Turing test going on at Unequally Yoked, and the first round of voting is now beginning. Leah has posted 15 sets of answers to a standard set of questions, some of them written by genuine atheists, some written by Christians pretending to be atheists.Do you think you can tell the real atheists apart from the frauds? If you're up for the challenge, go check the answers out, apply your very best skepticism, and then cast your vote. The polls are only open … [Read more...]