Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has commented on my first post. The level of support is pretty amazing, and I've gotten plenty of great ideas already. Thanks a lot, everyone!

Now, on to the main point.
The first real debate I had with the Apologetics was a few days ago at their weekly meeting.
I got there a few minutes early, and sat near the front of the room, just listening to everyone. They really weren't talking about anything; someone needed an ethernet cord, and after I suggested the college store, they said they'd rather get it for free. How expensive are ethernet cords these days?

When the meeting finally got going, it was mostly just the boring yet necessary talk that most clubs have to go through. There was talk about how they could get more money, and it was decided they would but all their hopes into the yearly Spring Fling, where they would cook hotdogs and stuff. Pretty risky to bet it all on questionable beef, if you ask me, but I wasn't there to talk economics, so I just kept my mouth shut.

One of the higher-ups in the group, Daniel, said that he wanted to start going to schools and talking to students about joining CAF/BLAST (there are two groups which together form the overall group. It's a little confusing until you realize they're pretty much both the same thing.)
Daniel also mentioned that he would "even talk to Atheist groups". I wanted to mention that I didn't even know there were any atheist groups in the local high schools. I wonder if he had confused the word "Atheist" with the word "Secular" which, (as I would later find out) coming from Daniel, that really isn't too much of a stretch.

Unfortunately, it was at that time that the main speaker for that day finally arrived, and I was unable to ask any questions.

The speaker, was a man called Pastor John. Although, I wouldn't have known he was a pastor if he hadn't said; mostly because he was so young. John started off saying that he was going to tell us all about that frighteningly alien creature known as 'The Skeptic'.

He hands us all a paper, and proceeds to tell us, word-for-word, what it says on that paper.
While I do like when people give us overviews of what they'll be talking about, because it makes for handy notes, I hate it when they just read off the page they gave you. And while he wasn't literally doing that, it was close enough to be a little annoying.

His main talk about about truth. Now, I always get a little nervous when theists start throwing around the word truth, because you never know what they mean by that. Do they mean truth, or Truth(tm)? It could be simply things which are proven to be true, such a the Laws of Physics, or it could be that Jesus is the eternal son of God and you're going to Hell for not agreeing. Or something to that extent.
The point is, they can never come right out and say what they mean.

A good example of this can be found in his hand-out. I'll post just a bit of the first two paragraphs below. (Emphasis is his):

1. It's hard to believe that someone might actually doubt the existence of truth, but it's TRUE - people actually about that we can arrive at truth...

...2. Skeptic's view of truth: We cannot arrive at truth because we cannot perceive reality as it really is. Our senses cannot be trusted and our minds seem to impose a certain formatting upon the sensory data (time, space, etc.) we cannot really get behind the appearance of things in order to get to the real stuff - things as they really are. Thus objective truth is impossible. We have perceptions; we cannot really know much more than that. Truth is really just an illusion.

To be honest, I don't completely disagree with all of this. I acknowledge that, no matter how slim the chance, there is a possibility that this is all one giant illusion and we really are living in the Matrix.
However, I'm not going to base my whole life around something for which I have no proof. I'm going to rely on my senses to tell me about the world and assume they are working properly.
Also, I'm not going to go insane worrying about all the "what if"s, as John seems to assume all skeptics must do, constantly.

It was at this point that I asked John what he meant by the word "Truth." He said he was 'getting to that'.
How silly of me to want the definition of something before you go on a twenty minute discourse about it's impact on us.

Looking further down at the bottom of the page, I saw this:

B. Definition of TRUTH - What is truth???? Truth is REALITY. Truth is "telling it like it is."

I wondered why John couldn't have just said that from the very beginning? I also find it very ironic that a theist is throwing around to word 'reality' in connection with their second favorite word, 'Truth,' which is just behind 'repent'.

It was at this time that John made a fatal mistake and left the comfort and security of his page to make a freestanding statement.
He said (essentially): "That's why I know Christianity and the Bible are true. Because of Truth. If there was ever anything proven wrong in the Bible, I would immediately abandon it."
This shows a complete and willful abundance of ignorance. I immediately pounced on this, speaking up in a meaningful manner for the first time.

I asked, "what about all of the contradictions in the Bible?"
Unsurprisingly, John replied with "what contradictions?"
So, I started just listing them off the top of my head:
The part in Deuteronomy where it says a rabbit chews it's cud, like a cow does. They, in fact, do not.
There was the verses which rather strongly supported a heliocentric worldview (meaning that the Earth, not the Sun, should be the center of our galaxy, if not the whole universe).
How man was created (I said nothing of how life began, but we know for a fact that homo sapiens weren't made from dirt, with the male coming first, and the female days later, formed from a rib.
The part about how the sky, which is all water, is held up by pillars.

One person in the back decided to grab onto the most vague of my statements, the latter one about the pillars and water and such.

He said that the Bible didn't say the earth was liquid. I said, yes it did. So, he immediately switched to, "We can't take that literally. Just like Psalms was a bunch of poems, there's a lot of poetry in the Bible."
That's a complete bullshit claim, and I immediately called him on it.
I asked, "Then why do you take other parts of Genesis literally? How do you know what is literal, and what is mythical?"

At one point, John mentioned something vaguely related to science, and I mentioned the God of the Gaps, and how for most Christians, is seems like everything was done by God, until proven otherwise by science.
For an example, I stated how utterly and clearly wrong the creation of Man was.
That was when John said something I really wasn't expecting:
"I believe all of that." John believes every single word of the Bible, from the cud-chewing rabbits, to the dust-made-man and rip-made-woman.

At this point, I really didn't know how to argue with him anymore. How do you hold a normal conversation with someone who is so completely separated from reality?

The conversation could have carried on for hours, and it seems like John had many more insights on "truth" prepared, because we were only about half-way into his talk when my bullshit meter started screaming and I had to say something. (I say we were half way through based on how much of the hand-out John had read to us thus far. There was still the whole back page left to cover.)

Unfortunately, I had to leave early because of a test, and that was as far as the conversation went.
The next day, though, I would find myself with much more free time, and a much better chance at more properly debating the Apologetics.

Next post: I'll cover a surprise three-hour conversation I had with the Apologetics. The big talking points: improper concepts of the Big Bang theory, and blatant homophobia created by a lack of understanding of the human body.

Views: 17

Comment by Pitabred on September 25, 2009 at 10:35am
A quote just came up on my Google homepage that seemed highly relevant to your post here:

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
Flannery O'Connor
Comment by Prazzie on September 25, 2009 at 1:42pm
Jake, you've really got your head screwed on the right way round. The meeting sounds hilarious, could you keep a straight face?

Truth is "telling it like it is."
I get it now. "Truth" is Dr Phil's catchphrase.

Looking forward to the rest.
Comment by Nix Manes on September 25, 2009 at 7:03pm
Re: "Skeptic's view of truth:"

The idea of what reality actually consists of because of the the required use of the human senses to figure it out is an old one. The ancient Greek philosophers (and others) talked about this idea incessantly at times. How can we know what is real, what actually exists, if we have to use the limited human set of 5 senses to do all of our determining about the universe? We don't know what it is we don't know? Being a human necessarily means we are automatically limited in what we can know, and it may be totally distorted in the process of our detection. This is the thinking, anyway.

What we've come to realize, however, is that we can verify what we can determine to be out there through modern scientific methods. What we can't determine we leave alone, or keep trying to find out by coming up with new methods and discoveries to make the attempt. There's no reason not to seek the truth simply because it's hard or elusive.

The problem, as you've pointed out, is that when a person accepts a belief as "truth" there's no good way to keep a conversation going. It's very similar to talking to someone with a mental condition with a symptom that has them give nonsensical answers. If you ask someone with such a mental condition "How are you feeling?" and they respond "Rainbows are pretty," there's not much you can do. You just have to accept their condition and let it go at that.
Comment by Reggie on September 25, 2009 at 7:09pm
Nice! Thanks for sharing! Look forward to the next installment.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on September 26, 2009 at 8:13am
I just threw up a little in my mouth!
Awesome job, man.
Keep them thinking. That's the first step.


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