I'm totally skipping this debate...

.. but maybe you're interested. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, debated Frank Turek – who is probably most famous for an embarrassing debate performance against Christopher Hitchens and some cliche apologetics books.

I'm skipping this one for two reasons. The lesser reason is that I think these debates are totally played out. I hate this format where each speaker rambles for ten or twenty minutes without interruption. They do eventually get into a discussion (so I've been told), but not until they've both had plenty of time to have their little monologues.

But the bigger reason I'm skipping it is because the title of the debate is astoundingly stupid. It's "Which better explains reality: theism or atheism?" That's not even a question. Belief in god (theism) or disbelief in god (atheism) don't "explain reality". Some better ideas for titles:

  • Which better explains reality: naturalism or supernaturalism?
  • Is belief in God necessary to explain reality?
  • Is materialism more successful in explaining reality than arguments from ignorance?
You get the idea. How we understand reality is called "epistemology". This goes to the root of what science is, what assumptions are, and how we systematically identify and discard incorrect information. In other words, you can't assume God's existence a priori to the establishment of an epistemology (although some Christians like to do that); if God exists, a valid epistemology would lead to the conclusion that he/she/it does.

To me, that's a divide that's often lost on believers. Atheism is not a "worldview" that informs our outlook on other issues; rather, atheism is the outcome of an evidence-based epistemology. So it's stupid to ask whether atheism explains reality just as it's stupid to ask if a-unicornism explains reality. The question is how do we explain reality, and does that methodology lead us to God?

That's why I'm skipping this. But if it fascinates you, dear reader, have at it.


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