A possible upcoming debate.

Brian Fields, the leader of the Pennsylvania Non-believers and state director of PA for the Secular Coalition for America (and all-round pretty epic guy) was helping me flash a new ROM on my tablet last night (via Skype).  During the conversation, he told me of a Christian author who kept bugging him for a debate and who kept “threatening” to go on his blog and say that Brian was conceding the debate and chickening out.

How does one concede a debate into which they never entered?  Who knows.

Anyway, I wasn’t paying Brian for his time or expertise, so I thought that perhaps I could repay him by taking this guy off his hands.  I asked Brian to send him my way. I just got his email.

From: A. J. MacDonald, Jr.

Subject:  Possible debate regarding atheism and theism, science and religion?

J. T., After reading an article by Adam Russell recently in the Public Opinion I challenged him to a public debate, asking the PO to moderate. I have yet to hear from either Adam or the PO. I also challenged Brian of PA Nonbelievers and he chickened out in spades, which was quite pathetic. He gave me your name and email so I am asking you if yo would be open to engaging me in such a debate.
See: Meaningless prayers for atheistshttp://www.publicopiniononline.com/opinion/ci_22163900/meaningless-prayers-atheists

A. J.

My Amazon Author Page

And I wrote back…


Thank you for contacting me.

Don’t confuse “chickening out” with “ignoring you.”  There’s a difference.  If a toddler is challenging me to go twelve rounds in the ring, I’m not going to act as if Mike Tyson just gave me a shot at the title (in fact, I’d probably tell him to go finish his green beans and leave me alone so I can get my real work done).  Many of us, myself included, are inundated with debate challenges  from every blowhard with a bible.  We find that most of them are looking for us to legitimize their ill-formed opinions by appearing in a public place to listen to some of the most insipid ideas to ever grace the planet.  We can’t possibly engage all of them and, indeed, we shouldn’t – even when they attempt to goad us with promises of flying back to their flock to preen about how the atheist “chickened out” and was “pathetic”.

However, if you’re up for a debate on whether or not god exists, I’m your Huckleberry.

Generally when I do online debates I go three rounds (though I would be open to four or maybe five) at a max of 2,000 words apiece (so debating someone doesn’t become all I’m doing with my time as I do have other obligations).

This could be fun.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://www.geekexile.com Brian Fields

    Aww… Ain’t you sweet. :) Thanks again, JT!

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Aww it’s so cute when theists think they can play “debate”.

    It’s like a kitten who has successfully hunted string goes after a diesel locomotive head-on.

  • baal

    Excellent reply :). I needed a smile.

  • IslandBrewer

    Make him finish his green beans, first.

  • vini

    My mouth is salivating already. And it’s not because you brought up green beans.

  • AJ

    Umm, I may go by AJ, but I’m not that guy. Just wanted to get that out there.

    I would like to read one of these. They so seldom go anywhere.

  • Lyfa

    Eh, why do I have a sudden urge to make comparisons about lambs being led to slaughter?

    • IslandBrewer

      Talk about watering mouths, I SOOO want some lamb vindaloo, now. Thanks!

  • eric

    To go along with the author page, seems to be this guy.
    There’s a link on the right side to a post about the darwin fish. Here’s a taste of the sort of argument you might get:

    The words “atheist” and “atheism” are taken from the Greek word: “atheos” (ἄθεος) which, in English, translates as: “God not”, or “without God”. The words “theist” and “theism” come from the Greek word for God: “theos” (θεός), and the “a” (ἄ) which is placed in front of the word (or any word in Greek) simply negates the meaning of the word, in this case “a” “theos” = “no God”. As I said, the concept of God must first be posited and then negated.

    In my opinion, this positing of the notion of God and then having to negate it, in order to define one’s belief, is very problematic for atheists. Better, I think, to simply call one’s self a scientist, or a believer in science and scientism. To me, the Darwin fish, which is the Christian fish symbol with feet with the name “Darwin” inside the fish, is both unscientific and foolish. For one thing, again, it’s dependent upon one’s first understanding the meaning of the Christian symbol; and, for another thing, science has never discovered – living or dead – a fish with feet…

    Cough TIKTAALIK cough.

    • RobMcCune

      And then there’s this. Plus the guy seems to be into a lot of conspiracy stuff.


    • http://www.geekexile.com Brian Fields

      That is him. He signs all of his emails with a link to his blog. This is why I was unimpressed.

  • John Eberhard

    Genetic researchers recently grew a fish with legs, also: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-12/researchers-grow-fish-legs-instead-fins

    • eric

      Impressive, but its much easier than that.
      Step 1: buy lungfish
      Step 2: put its food a few feet away from the water.
      Then you just sit back and watch your fish walk.

  • http://www.geekexile.com Brian Fields

    Fairness dictates that I let everyone know that after AJ’s interchange with JT, AJ emailed me an apology. I’ve accepted his apology, but do not intend at this time to engage in a debate with him (Frankly, I simply don’t have the time).

    I would enjoy watching JT debate him, and I hope that gets worked out.

    Brian Fields
    PA Nonbelievers