Atheist Frontier - Questioning what's Real
   






Ideas - Boothby's Five Rules of Theological Debate
by Stephen Sywak (a.k.a., Boothby171)

I created these rules over 20 years ago, after culling through dozens of religious debate transcripts.  These seem to codify the main approaches of "believers" to the challenge of a rousting theological debate:

RULE
1
Presume the existence of God.  More specifically, presume the existence of your particular God.  Don't say things like "I believe that God does this...," simply say, "God does this..."  After all, everybody knows that God exists.  Atheists are just wrong, and deep down inside they realize that.  Yes, it's OK to pity them (just not yet -- see RULE 5).
RULE
2
Never actually define what it is you mean by "God" or "Heaven," etc.  If you define it, then it can be refuted.  After all, you've already established that He exists (see RULE 1).  Also, if challenged, you can always say, "That's not what I meant," or "I never said that He could do that..."
RULE
3
Once your opponent starts using observation and logic in his foolish attempt to refute what everybody already knows to be true, you can deny that both observation and logic are valid approaches to understanding.  Typical responses are, "How can we ever really know anything," and "God does not operate under the rules of logic and rationality -- He is beyond them."  Never, under any circumstances, attempt to explain just what the hell any of that means, because it really doesn't mean anything (that's the beauty of it).  More importantly, do not try and understand it yourself, as your head may actually explode.  Your opponent may respond to your first statement by asking, "then how do you know if anything is true?"  To which you simply respond, "I just know."

Some other good responses under RULE 3 include "But is there really any difference between the earth and the concept of the earth?" and "If I have no way of knowing if there are monsters under my bed (short of looking) but if I genuinely believe they are there, the fear of them is no different than if they really are there."

One of the other advantages of invoking RULE 3 is that you are no longer constrained to actually have to make sense in what you say or write.  By discrediting logic and reason, you are no longer bound by them yourself.  If you can keep this up, many times your opponent will just walk away, shaking his head, thereby handing you the "win."

RULE
4
As things start to go downhill, you may have to use the old reliable notion that "God exists because people believe that He exists."  There are deep theological problems with this approach, especially if other religions have more believers in their God than yours (except you know, of course, that they're totally wrong, anyhow).  But still, it keeps you away from RULE 5.
RULE
5
If all else fails, you may just have to reveal your opponent for what he really is:  An idiot.  A Godless, liberal, democrat, communist, baby-eating, tree-hugging idiot.

(This document has been reproduced with permission from its author, Stephen Sywak.  Thank you Stephen.)

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