It’s gotten so that for most talks I give, some believer will charge into the facebook event page or onto my blog ahead of time, puff out their chest, and declare that they are coming to my talk and are going to ask questions during the Q&A. What response do they anticipate?
“Oh no! Some nobody off the internet is going to show up and ask that one question that I always ignore because it destroys my position! Whatever shall I do?”
“Gasp! An argument from a theist? Perhaps it will be that one that I haven’t heard in a decade of doing this! What if they tell me we can’t be moral without the god who said to kill people for working on Saturday? What if they bring up that wicked Catholic, Hitler? What if they hit me with Stalin as an example of reason-gone-wild? What if they use Pascal’s Wager? So many different arguments that could be answered with
tentwo minutes on google, aaaaaaaaargh!”
“Please don’t let them recommend Lee Strobel’s books…pretty please don’t let them recommend Lee Strobel’s books…”
“Zounds! What if they lift some scientific jargon off a creationist website to demonstrate, right there in front of god and everybody, how well they understand an entire body of scientific information that says the exact opposite?”
Oh, that? No, I’m salivating because I’m afraid. Quick, somebody pray for me so I won’t be scared anymore.
I honestly don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish. Maybe they’re used to attending talks by Christians that are intended for believers, that have Q&As meant to allow the speaker to swing at softballs about scripture, where atheists asking questions about the validity of religion are jeered at and unwelcome. Well, atheist talks work a little differently. I want believers there and I want them asking questions.Ask the organizers of the talk I gave at Grand Valley State last year, where 90% of the 300+ people there were Christians.
They didn’t have to console me before quietly saying “It’s time, JT. You have to give your talk.” I couldn’t wait to get out there! I was giddy like a kid at Christmas. I’m an atheist activist because I want to challenge the pretensions of religion head on. I don’t want to just speak to atheists, I want to dismantle religious arguments to the faces of Christians.
Unfortunately, virtually every single troll who comes to my blog (helping me to earn a living in the process) and does their little bravery dance to taunt me with their impending presence, never shows up. Or, if they do show up, they lose their nerve and never make a peep. They’re kind of like prayer in that regard: they could actually do something, but posturing is easier.
So, to the self-important troll who got caught in my spam filter trying to intimidate me this morning, if you show up at the Kansas City American Atheists Regional Meetup in a couple weeks like you said you would, identify yourself during the Q&A and I’ll bring you up on stage to ask your “gotcha” question that I’ve undoubtedly never heard before. It will be your time to shine. If nothing else, my willingness to share the limelight with my detractor should demonstrate that atheists can be generous. I’m a giver like that.
Of course, if you don’t show up (again), then I get to use you as an example of how Jesus neither makes people more honest or more brave. Don’t just bark, little doggie…