The contents of this post are the opinions of JT Eberhard, not the Secular Student Alliance.
I noticed a pattern early on in discussing religion with Christians. They’d give a couple of arguments, then they’ll ask you to read a book (bible, Case for Whatthefuckever by Lee Strobel, etc.). Even when asked to give their favorite argument from the book, they would ardently insist that I just read the book.
Early on I would go read the book, take a lot of time out of my life to dissect it, and proudly present the believer with my work. They would then either ignore me or tell me to read a different book and insist that the new book is the one that really makes the rock-solid case. I quickly grew resentful of having my time wasted in this fashion. Now if the person I’m speaking with cannot reproduce a single argument from the book themselves, I tell them they clearly didn’t learn anything from the book and so it probably wouldn’t be a very worthwhile read for me.
Enter Dr. Brad Harrub, whose name I’m hearing more and more. He’s a contemptible liar. Saying that of Harrub is actually paying him a kindness, because if he is not a contemptible liar then he is a prejudice junkie on account of being utter moron. If you’re going to invent facts to plug into your arguments, you should invent ones that at least sound believable. For instance, if you say that being gay is worse for a person than smoking, someone like Christina is probably going to dismantle you in public (Harrub subsequently unfriended her on facebook). Christina’s already adopted him as a bit of a whipping boy, and I think this blog may cheerfully adopt him as such.
It turns out that my father was being nudged by someone in the forums of our local paper to listen to some of Harrub’s CDs even before Christina took him to task. Father consented and met her to receive the CDs just the other day. He popped in “The Dinosaur Dilemma” and the first claim that came up was that 1959 Eisenhower asked for one billion dollars to insert evolution into the public school curriculum.
This set off a red flag. A billion dollars in 1959 was a shitload of money. Eisenhower may have asked for the money to fund improvements to science education since we were in the space race at the time, but the claim is absurd. Father did his research, found the claim rattling about various ministry pages (which, of course, didn’t footnote it), but couldn’t find any other references.
For me, I would have hit the stop button and written the woman an email detailing how absurdly false the first words out of Harrub’s mouth were. I’d chide her being so gullible and insist that she not only could do better, but that she should do better. Father took a different approach to turning it into a learning situation. He sent her a message explaining that he was attempting to research the very first claim Harrub made, but that he couldn’t find any reliable confirmation that it even happened. He asked her to produce a URL for him and informed her that he would continue listening to Harrub after she did.
If she’s going to waste his time, she’s damn sure going to learn some critical thinking skills to do it. He’s also going to suggest that since he’s taking the time out of his life to listen to Harrub that she read the transcript of the Dover trial so she can see how the champions of creationism defended the idea when they had the chance (hint: they did in very much the same way as Harrub – one lie after another). He’s a stinker, my dad.
Credit to the lady on the forum. She responded to my dad and said “I’ll check this week on what you asked.”
So often, in my experience, religious people are not arguing in good faith. They’re just not. You can confirm this by asking, “If there was no god, would you want to know?” If your results are like mine (and I’d wager they will be), they answer will almost always be “no.”
There are some out there who do argue in good faith though, and it’s always such a pleasure to come across them. It will be interesting to see what she does (or doesn’t) come up with.