In the Elevator at TAM 2012 »« Compelling your pledge of allegiance to a flag…

How do you define truth? How do you determine it?

This was my one-on-one conversation with ‘Randy’, the deeply-indoctrinated creationist whom I met while he was protesting the Reason Rally.  Yes, he was protesting reason.  So it is not surprising that he seemed to have no education in science, and no understanding of the applications of logic, or the fallacies thereof.  It seems he has never had his blinkered world-view challenged either.  He is a minion of Ray Comfort’s, and a disciple of Kent Hovind, and he still says that they are honest and admirable men.  So this was –I thought- an opportunity to take someone who innocently believed the nonsense he had been fed, and show him what incredulous frauds and charlatans his mentors really are.  Because we’re not just talking about opinions or beliefs here.  We’re talking about things we can easily prove –or disprove- conclusively for certain.  In the process, I hoped to reach many others stooged in his same situation.

Sadly however, as so often happens when I invite the faithful to examine their beliefs with me, I encountered resistance in the form of posturing, bluffing, and excuses.  He even demanded conditions set in ultimatum.  Why?  Because he knows I will show him things he is unwilling to accept and forbidden to acknowledge.  Like a cornered animal, he didn’t seem to know whether to puff up or try to escape. This is not how I would ever respond were I in his situation.  If someone says they can prove that something I believe is wrong, I would listen.  Even if a creationist says that, I would still listen, but I would expect there to be a punch line too.  Due to past experience in this topic, I wouldn’t expect him to have any substance.

That’s why Randy’s shoe could never be on my foot.  I have real confidence in my position, where defenders of the faith clearly don’t.  I sincerely believe that my perspective is the more accurate –where my opponents are plainly pretending.  If I did turn out to be wrong, -in whole or in part- then it is to my benefit that I find that out.  Why would I want to continue believing something that is wrong?  Why do they?  So I would never refuse that challenge.

Whenever I have ever offered to prove evolution to a creationist, they usually refuse or even flee.  One guy told me he would rather take a bullet in the ear than to give up his belief.  That’s how honest he was not.  Another removed our entire discussion from his message board.  He gave the excuse –in a post that I wasn’t expected to find- that he had to delete it because [he said] my argument was starting to make sense to him.  He’s not allowed to reconsider his conviction; whether they believe it matters more than whether any of it is true.  Many other times I have seen excuses to the effect that “we don’t care what the facts are….”  Well, if you don’t care what the facts are, then you don’t care what the truth is, because they’re one-and-the-same.   The truth is what the facts are.  If it can’t be objectively verified, meaning that it can never be shown to be ‘true’ -to any degree at all- by any means whatsoever, then you simply cannot call it ‘truth’.

It seems to me that faith is a very precious assumed delusion, one which must be preserved and protected against any critical analysis or inquiry.  It is a matter of make-believe, and on some level many of these willful believers seem to know that already.  I had hoped that this boy had enough sincerity left in him that maybe he could still be reached, but such was not the case. He already knows that both of his mentors have knowingly lied in public media, but somehow that doesn’t to matter to him.  Truth does not seem to matter to him.  Whatever he wants to believe takes precedence over whatever the truth really is.  I can’t even relate to that mindset.

When I told him I could prove my point to his satisfaction, he should have challenged me to do it.  Instead he ducked and dodged and demanded equal time to present his side.  He only accepted because he thought I would give him an opportunity to proselytize.  So he insisted that I respect his faith-based position as equal to my fact-based position.  That’s already impossible.  It was also inappropriate since the onus was entirely on me, and he was the sole judge of my success in that endeavor.  Worst of all, once we began, it became obvious that he was reciting lines texted to him by his puppet-master, a professional presuppositionalist.

After just a couple first-hand encounters, I think I have heard all the best arguments of presuppositionalism, the desperate defense of floundering fundamentalism.  I am confident this recently-revived remnant of irrationalism will wane again within a year.  Why?  Because it amounts to no more than a word game, one which depends on the ‘mark’ providing desired answers to certain loaded questions, and the tactic still can’t meet its goal even then.  Randy said he had only six questions for me, but it seems they all depended on my first answer being along the lines that we can’t really know anything for sure.  Then he would pretend to know things that no one even can know.  However, the answer I gave him was not the one he expected.  I never even heard his other questions because my first answer ruined all his remaining arguments -not just for this discussion, but for any others he’ll ever have on this topic.  So I doubt I will ever have another chance to reason with him again.  I certainly won’t get the meaningful meeting of the minds I had hoped for, not with him, not while he is still a wanna-believer.

Comments

  1. petejohn says

    Made it 20 minutes in and heard him ask the same “What is truth?” question three times. That’s all I could take. I can’t imagine it got much better. Bravo to Mr. Ra for hanging in there and giving it a good effort.

    • says

      A presupper called Nide (usually) who haunted a friend of mine’s blog for 6 months, and another one for a year before that, spent the majority of that time jsut posting “How do you know?” interspersed with bible quotes, mostly “Faith is the evidence of things not seen….” and related ones. He didn’t stop until someone named Chris Bolt (apparently a fairly well-known presupper) came by and told him that he was making the side look bad. Nide stopped commenting and took down his blog after that.

  2. Chrish says

    HOLY CRAP!! My hat’s off to you Aron. I couldn’t have sat there and listened to Randy Him-Haw around,evade questions and keep repeating the same wrong assertions over and over again with out completely losing patience.
    If someone isn’t willing to have an honest discussion there’s no reason to do anything but end it.
    And as I’ve said on other blogs, a person cannot be intellectually honest about their beliefs as long as their beliefs are completely wrapped up with who they feel they are at the very core of their being.

  3. Micheal says

    Three theories of truth: coherence, correspondence, and pragmatic. Oddly enough, faith, hope, and belief do not fit into any of those three theories at all. Imagine that.

  4. Tien Khoo says

    I honestly think it was a mistake to even give this person a platform or airtime. Now he can brag about how he debated Aronra and dprjones.

    • Mike de Fleuriot says

      Yes, but then the person hearing that claim can come along and view the actual debate. This will should how bad he got his ass whipped, after all Hitler fought the whole rest of the world….

      • Tien Khoo says

        It was very frustating when DPR and Aron kept asking Randy to admit he made up his definition of evolution and Randy kept hemming and hawing. He was being FLAT OUT DISHONEST but refused to admit it at all. And then it began even more ridiculous when he started talking crap about homeschooling his kids about creation and evolution and the look on DPR’s face at that point said it all,”WTF AM I LISTENING TO?”

        • jacobfromlost says

          There is this weird phenomenon, probably related to the mythmaking impulse, where ignorant people simply make up an answer…and it may not even seem to them as if the answer is made up. Randy seemed particularly ignorant, and particularly prone to this kind of “thinking”.

  5. Karla says

    Keep in mind that “proving” evolution does not prove atheism.

    And the Science does not equal Atheism.

    What you are arguing for is actually “Scientism”.

    • had3 says

      Proving evolution does disprove Christianity however. After all, no Adam & Eve, no fall from grace and no original sin; no sin, no need for Christ.

      • Karla says

        A Non Sequitur; Christianity depends on Christ…not the existence of a literal Adam (“man”) or the existence of “original sin” (we all have our own, rejection of God being the underlying problem.)

        Denying that evil exists does not make it go away; scientists taking that attitude have filled the world with weapons that could destroy civilization in an afternoon and poison the world for millenia. I believe it was Oppenheimer who said “the scientists have blood on their hands”.

        So “proving evolution” does not even come close to making you an “intellectually fulfilled” atheist.

          • Akira MacKenzie says

            A Non Sequitur; Christianity depends on Christ…not the existence of a literal Adam (“man”) or the existence of “original sin” (we all have our own, rejection of God being the underlying problem.)

            When last I checked “original sin” was when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, it had NOTHING to do with being “on our own” or “rejection of God.” Nice try re-writing over a thousand years of Christian theology in a desperate (and laughable) attempt to fit a figurative square peg into a round hole.

            So once again, Evolution throws a huge monkey wrench into Christianity. If no Adam and Eve, then no “original sin” and no need for God to make himself his own son to serve a as blood sacrifice to himself for a rule that he made himself.

        • had3 says

          Except for humans being comprised of the five elements stuff and other various woo. But good try!

          • M Groesbeck says

            Well, there are a few religious denominations (certain flavors of Daoism among them, especially the quasi-academic groups and the not-so-zealous folk tendencies; probably some sects of Buddhism, given the “everything might be bullshit to feed to people who aren’t going to handle the real stuff” Mahayana schtick; and of course the more cafeteria-liberal branches of Christianity, etc.) that pretty much refrain from making any ontological claims in favor of a series of vague analogies and metaphors. So instead of failing to compete with science in explanatory power, they’re just trying to help people get along and keep happy/occupied. Which means they’re failing to compete with art, literature, sports, music, stamp collecting, hanging out with friends, and…studying science.

    • efiokmfeokpwe says

      I disagree.

      We don’t have any evidence of there being a god. And until there is, we should, from a scientific point of view, remain atheistic, until such evidence is found.

    • sqlrob says

      Nope, you can’t prove atheism (even Dawkins admits he is technically agnostic. Any honest atheist will admit the same)

      But, guess what. There is more evidence consistent with atheism than there is with any theism. Christianity has been actively disproven, as have all the Abrahamic religions. None of them are consistent with the evidence. On Dawkin’s scale, I’m a 6.9+. With respect to Abrahamic, and anything else that involves supernatural interaction? 7.

      And your comment mentioning Jesus? There’s very little, if any, credible evidence that he even existed, and there’s no evidence of the miracles he supposedly performed.

    • Marella says

      We can’t prove atheism, but we can certainly disprove all of the gods that have ever been proposed. Most of them are internally contradictory (can god create a rock he can’t lift?) and the rest create the expectation of results we do not see, (eg. prayer should work). This means that while we can’t disprove the possibility of a deist god we can and have proved the impossibility of a theist god who has any impact on the world, which includes Yahweh ancient storm god of Israel.

  6. zxcv says

    This is religion in action. Turning a good kid into a desperately lying apologist for hate and bigotry.

  7. says

    I just don’t get it. If these people are unwilling to even hear out the other side, then why are they agreeing to a debate in the first place??? I really don’t get it.

    • keithpeterson says

      Their goal is not to have a debate, but to spread The Word of God™ (apparently the all-powerful being is too lazy to do the work himself). I mean -to them- AronRa must look like a satanist and need to be shown back to The Light/i>™.

      I do however believe that they feel their “application” of logical discourse is valid, because God is on their side. So long as they do as their told (by their books/priests), be nice, maybe try to bring people to God and wholeheartedly believe in God, and mind their own business, they’ll be rewarded in Heaven and avoid Hell.
      Think of it as trying to lay low at your job so you can secure a promotion and avoid being fired. That’s sorta how they come at it.
      The problem is, in this mindset, you’re easy to scam and get all sorts of incorrect and illogical knowledge and heuristics in your head, so long as it quells fears and anxieties one has.

    • keithpeterson says

      Their goal is not to have a debate, but to spread The Word of God™ (apparently the all-powerful being is too lazy to do the work himself). I mean -to them- AronRa must look like a satanist and need to be shown back to The Light™.

      I do however believe that they feel their “application” of logical discourse is valid, because God is on their side. So long as they do as their told (by their books/priests), be nice, maybe try to bring people to God and wholeheartedly believe in God, and mind their own business, they’ll be rewarded in Heaven and avoid Hell.
      Think of it as trying to lay low at your job so you can secure a promotion and avoid being fired. That’s sorta how they come at it.
      The problem is, in this mindset, you’re easy to scam and get all sorts of incorrect and illogical knowledge and heuristics in your head, so long as it quells fears and anxieties one has.

    • says

      Actually, one of the positions of the presuppositionalists is that they want to cause enough doubt in their opponent that God will leap into their heart and convert them. It’s not a debate of facts, it’s a debate of faith. They just want that slight crack in the armor that will let God invade your soul.

      Laughable, true, but that’s what they’re all about.

      • says

        Yes, because back when I was a dutiful little Christian praying for God to reveal himself to me – to give me any sign, he still couldn’t get in, apparently.

  8. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    I particularly enjoyed the visible squirming in video #2….

  9. Townes says

    Aron, I salute you!
    I somehow managed to listen to the entirety of the 2 hours worth of presuppositionalistic crap. In all my, admittedly, humble 5-6 years of online debates, reading books on the subject etc., presuppositionalism has to be the lowest of the low.
    If circular reasoning would need a definition, in my eyes it is presupposing the property of something based on its own claims.
    So, for me personally, the name of a person subscribing to such nonsense is now “Circularist”.

    On a side note, this post is divinely inspired.
    Cause it says so right here:
    This post is divinely inspired. – Townes 2:1

    All other posts are false posts, for they do not carry the truth of this post, being the direct inspiration of the one True God – No.
    And remember… No God is watching you.

  10. radpumpkin says

    I share your pain, Aron. I had a bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses visit me a few months ago, and after some brief discussion left me with two tracts to read. I did read them, and immediately went on to write some lengthy rebuttals on them, as they contained nothing but fallacies, misrepresentations, and outright lies. They came back a second time, this time wanted to talk to me about the origins of life. As one might expect, personal incredulity was the norm for them. They tried to get me to admit that molecules forming from atoms was somehow highly implausible, that organic molecules had to come from inorganic precursors, and that there is an impenetrable entropic barrier between said simple organic molecules and amino acids. Now I’m currently in grad school for chemistry (theory to be a bit more precise), and I was absolutely appalled by such blatantly false statements. I found similar crap in the aforementioned tracts, so I’m not really surprised as to why they thought those would be good points. They’re not, but it would probably take me hours to explain in detail why they are wrong. It’s infuriating to watch people who have the capacity to know better – that is to learn and think critically about the information they receive – throw away reason and thought in order blindly accept something they should know is false (oh yes, apparently “individualism” means always acting counter to the group, and always thinking about what this norm might be is somehow an undesirable quality…). I should stress that I don’t think this attitude is limited only to the religious (see climate change deniers, for example), but a disproportionate quantity of anti-reason people (for lack of a better word) is indeed religious. Sigh…first world problems…

    • says

      …that there is an impenetrable entropic barrier between said simple organic molecules and amino acids

      If that was true, God would have to perform billions and billions of miracles at every moment, just to keep life as we know it going. Synthesis of amino acids is a normal part of metabolism for all kinds of life.
      Alternatively, the barrier isn’t impenetrable. It may require specific conditions, it may be difficult, but it’s not impenetrable.

      I love theistic claims that are disproved by everyday events.

  11. Legion says

    This is really painful to listen to. I can’t imagine being in the discussion. IMO, you could have ended the conversation when he admitted slavery is ok. From that point onward I would not care anymore what he has to say.

  12. plhearn says

    Aronra,

    I love your content and I’m delighted you now have a popular blog to read. Please don’t mention anything related to feminism or anything else that PZ and co. might disagree with. I don’t want you to get banned like thunderf00t did!

    • says

      1) Thunderf00t wasn’t banned, he was fired. He is still free to comment on FTB. Many of the FTBloggers disagree on a wide range of subject, by the way.

      2) Thunderf00t wasn’t fired for disagreeing, it was the way in which he expressed his disagreement that prompted his departure from FTB: extremely poorly written posts with excessive use of all caps and filled with strawmen, using a poll of his own youtube followers as a so called ‘unbiased’ inquiry, posting downright dishonest videos, ignoring many of the critisism directed at him (he only responded to PZ, while many others, including Greta Christina and Richard Carrier to name just a couple, were completely ignored, while they had written very eloquent, non-vitriolic refutations of Tfoot’s posts).

    • shockna says

      I’m a fan of thunderf00ts, and I think he deserved to have his blog removed. I can tolerate him disagreeing on the harassment issue (Even if I think he’s dead wrong about it), but when 80%+ of your output is denigrating the work of others, it’s not conducive to a proper environment.

      Feminism isn’t my main area of interest in the atheist movement, but I’m not going to tell others for whom it is a primary interest to focus on my issues.

  13. Mary B. says

    I made it throught the first video, barely, but could not continue. First off, there was an advertisement cutting in every two minutes (horribly annoying); secondly, Aron, you continuously interrupted your guest ‘to clarify’ and often failed to allow him to answer your questions. While I find that I agree with your arguments, your method of arguing can give one a headache. Still love you, though. =)

  14. Kris says

    “Blunt trauma to the head.” – I LOL’d.

    Randy’s voice sounds like thealmightyatheismo.

  15. AJ says

    What’s that? You are going to use cooking to do your cooking?? That’s circular, how on earth is that ever going to work??????

    • Daniel Engblom says

      What’s that? You’re going to use pots, heat, knives, spoons, recipes, spices and other foodstuffs to do your cooking? Why that’s completely reasonable, while not trying to explain the phenomena by using the same silly word that by itself does not explain anything!!!

  16. Desertphile says

    On the plus side, in the USA the number of non-believers in the gods among people 30 years old and younger are increasing. America will one day be civilized.

    As for idiots conflating biology with atheism, that still freaks me out. This is seen on The Atheist Experience all the time, with theists calling in and insisting evolutionary theory is wrong and that evolution is not happening and did not happen—– but it’s an atheist show, not a biology show!

    • Felix says

      Right, what they don’t get is that, even if nobody had ever thought of evolution, they’d still have no genuine evidence for supernatural creation or manipulation at all. It would still come down to a guess based on a lack of interest in the world. And that’s nowhere near the “scientific challenge to other interpretations of the evidence through Biblical glasses” that their feeble ignorance conjures up.

      • says

        Well wonderfully the folks at Atheist Experience ain’t too proud to say…. “I don’t know – ask a biologist or ask a astrophysicist or ask a particle physicist…” It’s good behavior modelling for the god-set.

  17. L.Long says

    Never started the video. One look at his expression says ‘waste of time’. But I agree on being puzzled by their NEED to believe. Especially the abrahamic religions. Want an after life…some of the religious tenets of Buddhism says there is an after life that is as pleasant as your life deems worthy of (but some cults of xtians are worried about that too). Hell even reincarnation as a slug sounds better than banging your head on a cloud singing praises to She/He/IT for eternity. I can understand their childish fear and terror of death, but there are better alternatives. All I say to the question is ‘I don’t know. and will deal with it then’.

  18. A Hermit says

    I had to laugh at the contrast between the first video, where DPR is trying to be the calm voice of reason, urging Aron to let Randy answer, and the end of the video where Aron is trying to calm DPR down…

    That frustration was, of course, entirely justified; in fact I’m impressed that either of you stuck it out that long. In the end the sheer mindlessness of Randy’s contribution was too much. His inability, or rather his unwillingness to even consider another a point of view was astonishing. You almost seemed to be getting through when the discussion turned to moral issues and you hit him with slavery. He was visibly struggling by the end to maintain his ignorance.

  19. Eric R says

    Hats off to Aron and DPR, I dont know how either managed to last as long as they did. The fact that Aron was willing to continue on reflects a patience I certainly cant muster.

    I dont know which was worse, listening to Randy or having a mid-syllable commercial every 5 minutes…

    OK I take that back, I do know what was worse :)

  20. says

    I just…I can’t…where do you start?

    First of all, watching him get more confused as the video went on was interesting. He looked really worried that you were telling him things he didn’t want to believe.

    Secondly, I’m impressed on how you pinned him down on the slavery thing. He was struggling really hard to squirm out of having to answer, but you did a good job keeping him from doing so.

    It must be frustrating to be so close to a breakthrough like that and be unable to make that last push. He really seemed like he was going to make at least a small concession.

  21. Combinatorial Implosion says

    When Randy gave his definition of truth as “whatever conforms to the mind of God”, it occurred to me that this definition would make it impossible for humans to know anything. Here is why I say that:

    Premise 1) Truth is that which conforms to the mind of God (Randy’s definition)
    Premise 2) The mind of God is infinite and perfect (from the Christian concept of God that Randy would, doubtless, accept)
    Premise 3) The mind of a human being is finite and fallible (uncontroversial between believers and non-believers)
    Premise 4) Fallible, finite beings are inherently unable to comprehend that which is infallible and infinite. (divide any finite number, no matter how large, by infinity and what do you get?)

    Conclusion: Humans are inherently incapable of knowing anything, using the definition of knowledge in Premise 1. Doesn’t get you very far, does it?

    • says

      If I were to guess I’d say his response would be “Yes, that’s why the only way to gain knowledge is to receive it directly from god who, with his divine power, can overcome this limitation.”

      Of course, that just boils down to “I’m right because I say so.”

  22. Rotwang says

    I followed the show and I was exhausted at the end. I don’t think that Randy is being dishonest on purpose he’s never really had to think critically. He believes because somebody managed to pull an aha-erlebnis on him and he’s been swallowing the whole thing ever since. If you are going to convince him, it’s going take a whole lot of time, patience and training wheels.

  23. Mr. Dave says

    I’m not at all surprised that so little headway was made with Randy, that kind of damage, as deeply ingrained as it is, can’t be rooted out in a two hour discussion. The man simply has so little real fact to anchor his world view, and is so trained to avoid logical arguments using facts, there’s almost nothing to work with. There was the point however, where he was visibly showing inner turmoil in trying to reconcile his thoughts in regards to the slavery issue. I think that’s probably why Aron was interested in having another discussion.

  24. says

    Aron, as much as I love what you do, you’ve got to let these people hang themselves. You spent so much time talking over him that you kept giving him reprives. Now I understand that you probably understand the arguments he’s going to give better than he does and it’s frustrating to have to wait for him to get around to spewing his nonsense, but that’s the whole point to a debate. You have to let him talk and make a fool of himself. Then sweep in and show what an idiot he is.

    It was great to watch DPR go off on Randy. I don’t think there’s any other way to put it, Randy is an idiot. He doesn’t mean it, that’s just the way he’s been raised. His mind has been poisoned for so long by the likes of Comfort and Hovind and Bruggencate that it doesn’t understand how to operate on it’s own anymore. It was painfully clear all the way through the debate that he was just regurgitating the same presuppositionalist nonsense over and over again. Every time you caught him in a lie or a misrepresentation, he said “yeah, but…” and went right back to his party line. Truth doesn’t matter to him. Fact is irrelevant. Evidence is pointless. So long as he gets to cling to his emotionally satisfying fantasy, nothing else matters. It’s arguing with a brick wall, except the wall is more rational.

    Good job overall, you put asinine theism in it’s place as usual. Too bad the theists are too brain-dead to realize how badly they got owned.

  25. mandrellian says

    Good lord, Aron. You have the patience of a saint.

    This kid is exactly what’s wrong (in large part) with America – obeisance to any authority figure who’ll tell them they’re special and that one day they’ll get their rewards and everyone else (scientists, atheists, gays, rock stars, makers of open sandwiches) will get their just desserts. Randy’s the perfect example of a subculture based on “othering” and vengeance fantasies, wrapped in selective readings of scripture and depicted as sophisticated philosophy and enlightened argumentation.

    Shoot, Randy, for someone so interested in grownup discussions, you sure didn’t make any effort to understand either atheism or evolution (or, even, science in general) before trying to “debate” someone whose entire online body of work centres around evolution and atheism. It’s almost as if you had this idea that no atheist on the internet had ever heard of presuppositionalist apologetics before and could have nothing to say in response to your script of talking points!

    Aron, I’m glad you shut down the idea of Sye joining in the next discussion. His previous douchey-without-exception behaviour (and, of course, his irredeemable smugness and ridiculous “philosophy”) has in my opinion precluded him from any/all future “debates” with non-religious commentators. I mean, how many frickin times can you say “I’m right because God said so, case closed, see you in Hell”? I’m pretty sure Randy would just hand over the reins and let Sye do all the talking – noone wants that. And like you, I’m not entirely convinced Sye wasn’t involved in this conversation, either directly or just by having his page open on Randy’s computer.

  26. Tim says

    Aron, I have to say that your interruptions were driving me as mad as they were dpr. But when you told drp “shut up, bitch!”, I nearly pissed myself laughing! On a tragic note, that any member of Homo Sapiens could admit, in the 21st century, that slavery is condonable under *any* circumstance strikes fear into my mind that no holy book could ever conjure. I cannot begin to express the grief I feel for how poisoned Randy’s mind is. Religion poisons everything. Indeed. *raises glass of jd black*

  27. F says

    as so often happens when I invite the faithful to examine their beliefs with me,

    Now I know how to respond the next time one of the faithful invites me to pray with them.

  28. Catechins says

    Very entertaining. Did you guys notice when Randy tried to show his 180movie.com t-shirt? Hilarious!

  29. Lee says

    By what standard is slavery absolutely wrong? How could a moral person even ask that?

    • Townes says

      His hope was that the answer would be God’s standard, or to drive the conversation towards universal morality written on our hearts.
      A massively failed attempt, of course.

  30. Roger says

    I think one of the things that overwhelmed poor Randy is the too-big words that you used, Aron. He honestly didn’t understand the definition of evolution that you gave, because the word “Biodiversity” was just meaningless noise to him. He obviously has no real grounding in science, so the scientific terms you used went over his head like the Voyager space probe. I’ve learned to use little words and real-world analogies when speaking with people that don’t share my computer expertise, and they follow along with the explanation of why their computer broke a lot easier than if I used the proper jargon I would use with a fellow tech. That being said, I spent a lot of time watching these videos hitting pause and banging my head on my desk at the sheer close-mindedness of Randy’s beliefs and apologetics. I don’t blame DBR for getting so upset with him by the end. It was really starting to remind me of the Way of the Master/Rational Response Squad debate. I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to any further “debates” you may have with him or not. I don’t think my forehead or my desk can take much more punishment.

  31. Shade says

    You won’t ever be able to make the dominoes fall for Randy. His brand of fundamentalist evangelicalism has made issues like evolution (or reproductive rights or LGBT rights) a core of what he believes, nearly as important as what he believes about Jesus or the Bible.

    The best you can do is help dig out some of the sand from under the foundation of one domino, or maybe a few dominoes. That process alone can take years. I’d love to turn another of his presuppositionalist questions back at him, with a twist: “Why do you *trust* Sye and Ray and Kent and Eric and Ken and your Pastor and your Sunday School Teacher? Is it *possible* that they could be wrong, about anything? Then it’s not good enough, dammit, to just repeat what they say. You think that God wants you to be able to give an account for what you believe, right? So read, research, dig, and learn. Engage the opposing side and their arguments with an open mind, a truly open mind, not because you want to be converted but because you want to identify the error of the opposition with *your own* two eyes and brain. Anything less is shockingly lazy and deeply dishonest, especially because you’re trying to spread your beliefs to other people and you–not anyone else–are ultimately responsible for what comes out of your mouth. You owe it to others, and to yourself, to *really know* and not to just be a parrot. Truth withstands deep scrutiny from any angle, or it’s not worthy of being called truth.”

    He kept on asking “Would you bet your life on it?” His answer to that question is “No way!”: what’s at stake is his very soul and eternal destiny. The dissonances and contractions of his positions might be creeping around at the edges of his mind, but for now the mental gymnastics beats the hell out of Hell, so you try as hard as you can to shoo the thoughts away. This clever maneuvering puts the really liberating questions out of reach. Confronting that fear, especially after you’ve heard certain things preached at you for years and decades by people you trust, is a very hard thing to do for someone in his position.

  32. Ahkoond says

    Aron, you have the patience of a saint (no pun intended). I would have lost my cool way earlier into the “debate”. What a carnage! It was like in the movies when they dump a body into a wood chipper. Only that this time Randy jumped into the chipper by himself! It’s really hard to witness the damage that religion does to the mind. I really, really hope that the seeds of doubt have been planted into Randy’s brain and something good can come out of this conversation. And the only thing that can feed those seeds is honesty. Randy, if you’re reading this, take your time and reflect on what just happened. If you can’t be honest with yourself and prefer to defend not even yours but somebody else’s lies, then you’re truly in need of professional help.

  33. kitten says

    Thank you for not giving up on fundies. I used to be one. Patience is a “fruit of the spirit” and if there were any honest Christians around they should recognize and respect you for it. I never changed my mind when confronted, but reason eventually won the battle for my mind. You’ve “planted a seed”, to use my old evangelical lingo.

  34. Mr.Kosta says

    Aron, I honestly don’t know how can you withstand such egregious levels of stupidity without flinching. If it was me debating them, after 5 minutes my reaction would’ve been something similar to this.

  35. OverlappingMagisteria says

    Wow! Well done sir. I am adding the magic sandwich show to my list of podcasts.

    I really hope that “Randy Nelson” is a pseudonym for that guy’s sake. I would not want my name attached to the performance he gave.

  36. kunnleiki says

    I like how Randy complained that it was “two against one.” Surely he had the Creator of the Universe on his side…

    In any case, I agree with the earlier comment by kitten – I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve planted a seed of doubt, Aron. Can’t imagine he came away from that debate feeling very chipper.

  37. Chris says

    I try not to play back seat driver on these things, but there’s one thing I felt when watching this that was so egregious I was surprised neither of you bought it up.

    Randy’s erroneous definition of evolution wasn’t pulled from his own arse, as much as he tried to pretend it was. It was almost a direct, verbatim quote from Ray Comfort.

    Even Randy knows, as is obvious from his dancing around the issue, that these people aren’t useful authorities to take instruction on evolution from. He knows full well these guys are lying to him, he just doesn’t care. He’s more interested in an apologetic lie than any actual truth.

  38. Dave says

    Randy was a good example of someone that doesn’t know the difference between subjective evidence and objective evidence. This was actually painful to watch at times, there are far too many people that think this same way. When he tried to justify slavery he knew he was being dishonest and creepy.

  39. craigrheinheimer says

    Although it was unfortunate that the discussion did degrade into two versus one, I have to admit that my favorite part was when DPR cornered Randy and would not relent until he gave a solid answer to the slavery question.

    So many times I wish a moderator or interviewer would push someone on an issue and force them to answer (actually, I’ve seen Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper do this, but few others). Even those that do press for an answer will generally give up after a few tries and let a guest off the hook.

    It was refreshing to hear Randy admit that he must accept slavery because the Bible allows it and to see how visibly uncomfortable that made him. I hope that experience sticks with him and makes him re-consider his beliefs.

  40. says

    I finally had a chance to watch both of these today. Randy, for much of it, looked like he felt it was a test and he just needed to find the right pat phrase to answer. Not reason his way to an answer, mind you, but remember the right apologetics magic incantation. And that perfectly illustrates the problem with faith – it only works when you remove critical thinking.

    I wonder if this debate marks the first time Randy had to say out loud that he feels slavery is good “for the bible tells me so”. I get the sense he’d either never examined the question before, or had decided inwardly that the bible was wrong on this point.

  41. pyrobryan says

    For about an hour and a half I was questioning why this kid was being allowed to evade and half-answer or non-answer all of these questions. Then when it got to slavery, finally, you guys dropped the hammer on the guy. Thanks.

  42. says

    I watched only the first video so far, but I found it frustrating how many times dprjones cut off AronRa for some reason or other, yet allowed Randy to get away with not addressing the question. I’m not surprised Aron got frustrated.

    The comments indicate that Randy got smacked down severely in the 2nd video so I’ll be looking forward to watching that.

    Randy did not, I think, make a single argument in the 1st video – he wouldn’t answer questions, instead responding with a question of his own, or started his response with “I believe [something god blah blah]” which is of course, an un-evidenced assertion.

    How do we determine truth? Through use of evidence and reason. Randy seems unable to understand this core point. His constant reiteration of “how do you use your reason to prove your reason” seems to indicate that he distrusts reason – but if reason didn’t work, this would invalidate all arguments based on reason; he just wants a way to ignore atheists’ arguments. After 50+ minutes of debate in this style, no progress was made; it’s like arguing with mud.

    Aron, we met and talked a few times at the 2012 GAC. I was there when you and Mr Deity argued against that Adelaide creationist. Your debating style frequently doesn’t give the other person a chance to complete a sentence. Step back sometimes, and let them hang themselves by their own words. But don’t let them shift the goalposts. I do think what you were saying went right over Randy Nelson’s head. And it’s impressive, I don’t think I could speak so cogently about these matters off the cuff. But it might help to give them the simplified version sometimes. Pretend you’re speaking to a 5-year-old child, because their thinking skills are at that level, or below.

  43. Simon says

    I’ve just watched, or at least listened to, the first video. Maybe it’s just because I’m English, but I was most frustrated by AronRa’s constant interruptions. It felt to me (I’m not going to put myself through that again to check) that Randy rarely got past the first half of a sentence or a thought before being cut off. Frankly, you made me feel sorry for the poor guy, not that you were trying to help him.

    Also, there was a fair amount of jargon being thrown around that confused him. You could see in his face and body language when he wasn’t getting it, and re-phrasing in simpler terms until he understood the questions might have had a better chance of winning him over (or making it more obvious how unreasonable his positions are).

    Naturally, Randy’s position is indefensible, but surely a simpler way to negate his “Reason is circular reasoning (too)” argument would be that, even if it was, it works, and the proof of that is that you were having the conversation while miles apart and not in a smoke-filled hut somewhere.

    I just started the second part, and 38s into it AronRa’s interrupting the moderator…

    • SD says

      +1 I know it’s hard not to clarify things in the moment, but you gotta let the guy think and speak!

  44. says

    I have a semantic quibble with the moderator in a real sense.

    Definition is by definition a changeable quality on an issue like “evolution”. Since we are still learning about the thing, there is no Definition by definition.

    So as long as Thunderfoot is rational in giving his definition of evolution he is allowed to make one up. I was interested in hearing his. Like it or not the important parts of evolution to discuss are different in the social realm and the definition priority might change…

    After all the whole reason there are new words every year (as well as new versions of old ones) is because use changes in fact.

  45. SD says

    First of all, I agree with a lot of what Aron Ra said, and I want to be helpful.

    But, Aron Ra made a GRAVE ERROR in going after the Ten Commandments. Presuppositionalists who use the commandments are accurately following the example of Jesus confronting the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:20, check it out and see if I’m wrong).

    Even if Aron is right about the ten commandments, whether you call it the ten commandments or not, the important part to presuppositionalists is that Jesus did it. When you factor in church history and tradition, it’s going to look rather desperate and not well-evidenced to someone who is dedicated to their gospel.

    The only way someone dedicated to scripture is going to change their mind is if we are really gracious with them and let them think and make their entire argument freshly rather than assume you know it (even if you already know where they’re going with it). Keep in mind that they are taught that Satan has closed Atheist’s minds, so if you can act really open minded you can undermine that, as hard as it is to do!

    That being said, Aron Ra is completely right about how it’s so logically messed up to just assume that the Bible is right.

  46. Matt McLeod says

    These 2 guys were not on the same wavelength at all. One talking about scientific, empirical “truths” ( I only put in quotes because science is tentative outside of models which explain specific systems) and what Randy was trying to get to, universal truths, I suppose. Example being, the fact that evolution was, and is, an accurate explanation of speciation ect., was true before it was ever verified.

    I mostly liked, even with this disconnect, how Aron was able to continue talking about a subject I love, and very well to boot, despite the bumbling “argumentation” this fail presuppositionalist. Annoying, when people think that reasoning using axioms founded in reason is somehow a bad thing (Aron Ra did, wrongly deny that empiricism is outside of this circularity, but I guess I understand why he didn’t want to let this twit run off on his scripted tangent). This circular reasoning, based on logic, is, thus far, the most reliable way towards discovering usable models about our universe. Any alternatives presuppositionalists? Love this decline into intellectual dishonesty trend apologists are taking. (sorry for grammar all – late and dumb) :)

  47. says

    Thanks Aron. I think this exercise was “worth it”. Although your debate opponent was not the most articulate, there are many normal looking, actually smart people, walking around in everyone’s home town who have similar arguments rolling around in their heads. Not necessarily young-earth creationists, but people who accept a similar line of thought from C.S. Lewis or other more sophisticated Christians.

    The answer though is the same, and we need to get our quick responses ready (“objectively verified”, “truth based on empirical evidence”) and study up on the underlying explanations (idea, hypothesis, evidence, theory, peer review). Videos like this help.

    Actually I only listened to the first 15 minutes since I had the feeling it would get repetitive after that.

  48. says

    After thinking about this for a bit I had to ask myself, if I were to define what we mean by truth based on what I actually see in the world I would have to call “truth”…

    “Our opinion of reality based on our chosen emotional impressions.”

    Everyone says they care about the truth. The problem is that we disagree on the parts of reality that we call the truth. Those disagreements all depend on how we see the part of reality that we are talking about.

    Blind folks and elephants. Some blind people use processes and tools though, so not all truth claims are the same.

  49. says

    How do I define “truth?” Er, I do not do so; in fact I refuse to define “truth.” I can only explain what is true and what is false by producing evidence. A statement or a hypothesis is true when it conforms to observed reality.

    The question then becomes “what is observed reality?”

  50. says

    Aron, your arguments are great (as I expected) but you mic-hogged in a way I found unsympathetic. He’d have looked worse if you’d kept your mouth shut on some of those, and let him work his shovel a bit, so he wound up in a bigger hole. Even though I found stupid christard to be stupid, I felt mild pity for him – not because of the weakness of his arguments, but because of the way you kept interrupting him and talking over him.

  51. says

    I watched the entire 2 hours. It was both entertaining and a train wreck.

    If I might offer some constructive criticism for Aron Ra…
    I know it’s an issue that is very passionate for you (as it is for me), but you may have more success in debates if you can remain calm and dispassionate. I felt that you got a bit too worked up, but I can understand how hard it is to remain calm when debating a person like this. I just find that if I get emotional, then my opponent does too and it makes it harder to reason with them.
    Also, I personally think it’s counterproductive to call people liars, deceivers, frauds, etc., no matter how much they deserve it. My personal view is that it is more effective to critique the ideas or points of view.

    Just my 2 cents. =)

    Regardless, I hold you in very high esteem. Keep up the good fight, sir!

  52. koliedrus says

    I’m going to watch this for the duration, as painfully frustrating and familiar as it is and evidently will be.

    I’m 28 minutest in at this point.

    When someone is told that they lost something… well…

    I admitted to being an atheist withing the last decade. I gained the ability to see reality with a broad perspective.

    I’m not sure how to phrase this but I lost my chains. I discarded my glasses. I was blind but now I see.

    I’m in contact with several theists that fight, tooth and nail, to avoid that fear of “loss”. To them, I may as well be threatening to kill their lifelong pet companion if I mention “loss of faith”.

    I’m not sure of a replacement metaphor just yet but I know the psychological connection is at least as strong as the attachment to a loved one or a really awesome Redbone Hound named Rusty who rides with you in your truck and howls at just the right parts when you’re both listening to “Pretty Hate Machine”.

    Personally, I need to lose the “loss” when I’m trying to wake these people up.

    I happen to like them.

    Any thoughts?

  53. says

    Sooo, what I gathered is the following once more:

    Q How do you verify that you know the truth?
    A By God’s Revelation to me
    Q How do you verify it is God’ revelation?
    A By the Bible, the word of God.
    Q How do I verify the Bible?
    A By God’s Revelation, by letting him into your heart
    Q How do I verify it is (the Christian) God’s then?
    A Through the word of God, the holy Bible.
    Q …Didn’t I already ask for verification on that?
    A …
    And so on.

    Same old crap honestly. I can see DPR is getting sick of it, and I kind of see a tactic here. If no one can stand debating this non-sense, then they will have no one to oppose them when they go to proselytize in another arena. I saw the same sort of thing with Brian Sapient months ago where he asked if it was getting redundant. Is there anyway to move on from this.

    I don’t think the theists are even arguing anymore. Not in any serious manner. They know they can’t defend their positions, but if they can get the stronger more intelligent opposition to quit out of frustration; they can just slip through without resistance. Pre-supposition isn’t even about casting doubt into people, it’s just a way to start pacification. It isn’t even proof or an argument. It’s just a tactic.

  54. says

    Fundamentalists like to conflate “truth” with “literal truth” when in fact “truth” can be contextual and has several definitions (according to the dictionary). There can be literal truth; factual truth; moral truth; allegorical truth; etc.

  55. dd says

    Aron–I was a little bit disappointed when you said that evolution wasn’t falsifiable, or that there was no evidence that would cause you to doubt it (something to that effect). I think that I probably understand why you said it: evolution is one of a few truths that you are most certain about, given your education and vocation.

    However, you might make slightly more progress with a creationist by giving “rabbit bones in the Precambrian”, or some other objective evidence against evolution, as an answer. You and I can KNOW that such bones will never be found in PrC rx, but in principle it isn’t science if it’s not falsifiable. That applies to the present day, even when we ourselves are educated to know a thing to be fact. Being able to name falsifying evidence places your certainties on the table, puts them “at risk”, which is after all what you’re asking people like Randy to do. Thus you begin to create epistemological common ground, which of course is tricky in such a debate, and around which you and Randy danced a very ungainly pas de deux for more than an hour.

    Just a thought. Can’t say how well it will work.
    –Dan

    • says

      I don’t think Aaron has ever said that Evolution wasn’t falsifiable, just that there is nothing currently out there that disproves it at this time and that all the demonstrable evidence found points to Evolution being the current and most correct line of thinking. It would take something astounding and never seen before to throw him (and many other scientists in the related fields) off of how evolution works. And even still, the new line of following the evidence would still look similar to Evolution.

      The problem presented here is that Randy (and many creationists before him) thinks that people can be persuaded away from this line of thinking by some sort of revelation. When the fact of the matter is that all the evidence for Evolution doesn’t go away. What Randy and his mind-control masters don’t understand is that they cannot ever break the lines of evidence but they can try to get people look away from it.

      What I find most amusing is that if you brain wiped everyone right now on the face of the earth. Took away all the writings and anything that we have discovered thus far, which includes religious beliefs that eventually people will find evolution again as it is now. Religion cannot claim the same because none of it can be verified.

  56. Osiris says

    It feels as though Aron Ra is debating with an alien… an alien to reason/logic/mathematics.

  57. stargraves says

    I actually made it all the way through both videos – as painful as it was to witness your patience being eroded by the young man’s flailing, squirming and accepting no responsibility for his intellectual and moral redundancy – as clearly that poor guy hasn’t ever had a thought of his own in his entire life.

    It’s criminal what those creationist frauds have done to his brain.

    Being from England and even being raised a christian, going to Catholic schools – (don’t panic I was an atheist as soon as I knew what the term meant!) where I was taught science in physics, biology and chemistry without ANY religious bias, and I never encountered such unfettered monstrous bullshit as Y.E.C or the imbecilic belief that Noah’s ark was real and not a fable, until I encountering the likes of Hovind around 1999 when I first started teaching and was regularly encountering these appallingly liars for jesus on the internet.

    I knew of the mendacious nature of evolution-deniers through Inherit the wind as a movie buff, but I was staggered that they existed on the cusp of 21st century!

    I have to admire the effort that you are putting into this – as a tutor myself – I find myself devoting the most effort to the least able – as if a student of mine ever failed; I’d see it as a failure on my part.

    Anyway – good luck! I will follow this saga, and I salute your efforts, as amazed as I am, that a developed society has such an astonishing proliferation of willfully ignorant folk, who base their ethics on the horrific barbarism of superstitious middle eastern tribes from of the bronze age.

    • Felix says

      I agree some of the Bible stories do work as fables (although often badly written and unfocused fables). But I’d like to know, can the Church actually demonstrate that these stories were originally written and meant as fables? I think this was just how people created a history for their tribes and nations. The global flood was meant as literal earth history; it’s just that at that time, nobody had the methods, and very little motivation, to investigate. Modern Jews have no problem admitting that their ancestors made up a lot of history “on the fly”, just like every other culture did back then. In ancient times, evidence, parsimony and accuracy were regarded as less important than meaning and message.

  58. anomaly says

    Meaningful meeting of the minds you had hoped for?

    He lived up to every expectation you mention having about him. As expected you trashed him with ease, and once more could embrace the sweet taste of victory. Confidence strengthened and dominance ensured.

    Good thing purpose was other than to reach out and ignite even a tiny spark of hope that he could benefit from. Then it would be a complete failure.

    Enjoy the spoils of victory, whatever it may be.

    • stargraves says

      anomaly – you just don’t get it do you.

      This encounter was a protracted stalemate. Nothing was advanced – poor Randy; deceitful, deluded, and dim; still didn’t even pause once to try and “think” – instead he kept looking at his “notes.” Most of the time, to the point of egregiously not even listening to what Aron had to say, and making him repeat everything three or four times.

      Trying to reason with the unreasonable is incredibly difficult – and takes patience and time – when both sides are so unequally stacked; on the one hand we have the cumulative knowledge of humankind’s thousands of years of intellectual discovery to call upon, which allows our generation to flourish and grow old, instead of dying in childbirth, or gum disease, or the squits, and on the other side – the dubiously cobbled-together, contradictory and unrelated mythology of a primitive culture, that was used by Emperor Constantine, in around 300 CE, to try and unite the differing belief systems within the Roman Empire.

      Pointing this out to such a sad sack, is not in any way a victory, unless the poor kid, actually has a thought of his own at some point.

      Personally speaking – I am not here to point and laugh. It is a challenging task that Aron has undertaken, and one that I am not sure is possible once someone is so wilfully and obnoxiously confrontational towards the scientific method, without even understanding the first thing about it.

      • anomaly says

        Dear Stargraves.

        You understand that opinion other than yours is not by default wrong. Be careful with claims of ability to understand, is something belonging to everyone else.

        I enjoy much of what AronRa does, but this does not make me a follower who see some kind of infallible leader.

        You say the task of AronRa is challenging, and you doubt at times if it is possible. Is it to understand as possible depending on if AronRa manage to do it? If he can not do it, nobody can?

        The form and setting have little to do with academic understanding of how you communicate or educate. Why should knowledge about this be ignored, in a situation where knowledge is claimed to be promoted? There is no logic.

        The natural explanation of actions serving no purpose, is that purpose must other. A man who claims to beat his wife because he loves her, imply some other purpose than what he claim. If claim is true, there are different actions that will give better results.

        Would you say the method is effective? Does it work? If not, would repetition of method eventually bring result? Seems to me faith is involved here……..

        I know. Call me a idiot, retard or heretic if you will. I call it as I see it, a planned and well executed bashing. And the crowd cheers like any on any other arena. I see it in the religious community, and expect nothing else from a movement with roots in it. Same people, same actions, backing different team.

        I could suggest looking at societies where only remnants of fundamentalist religion remain, and causes related. But I guess it is pointless to the people god have blessed…..

        No reply needed, as I am well aware of me being to stupid to see what kind of success is displayed here. I am purely not able to comprehend the complex and rational approach, the revolution in human communication, a mode of communication not yet ready for the transition from the fringe community on youtube and blog-sphere over to acceptance of the established academic community. They just don`t get it either…….

        • stargraves says

          I’m sorry, but I haven’t a clue as to what you are alluding.

          I merely pointed out that there was not an attempt to trash Randy and it was not a victory.

          From reading the earlier blogs, it was an honest and open attempt to “reason” with the man, and to try and make him think about exactly what it was he was promulgating in the light of how the external authors of his unsupportable stance; Hovind, Bruggencate, et al, have no intellectual or moral credibility, or any actual evidence to substantiate their outrageous unscientific claims.

          Opinion is not even an issue here.

          And also, amidst that incongruous mire of words you posted, something utterly disgusting caught my eye; “A man who claims to beat his wife because he loves her…” well, he is simply not a man, but a contemptible, abject coward.

          Nothing gives anyone the right to violence against another person, and if you think that spousal abuse is even remotely acceptable – then you sir, are an ignorant piece of worthless sh*t.

          • josephdorrell says

            “Nothing gives anyone the right to violence against another person”

            No…

            Self defence,
            Defence of others,
            Consent of the recipient,
            Maintenance of public order,
            Lawful arrest of someone resisting arrest,

          • stargraves says

            Oh aye – self defense etc. granted, Joseph – but I was of course talking about wife-beating though wasn’t I?

            Violence against another person is clearly totally fine in so many contexts – in fact, I’m going to punch someone’s lights out in a minute as I’ve just seen someone look covetously at my bike outside – So thanks for being so pedantic – I will attempt to phrase all future sentences I ever type on the web to be less ambiguous just to keep you happy.

  59. BCat70 says

    I got a good ROFL on your and dprjones’ stereo repsonce to Randy mentioning homeschooling…. I would be critical of your constant interruptions of Randy, except I think thats how you kept your head from exploding.

    Also dprjones ending rant FTW!

  60. Edward Sutton says

    Confirmation bias and willful ignorance. I had the same problems with a climate change denialist who would not look at evidence which might prove him wrong.anything contradicting his views. Nothing of the sort could be valid. He would not look at You cannot reason with people who do not use reason.

  61. says

    While I am certainly on your side for most of this discussion, if you don’t mind a little constructive criticism, I have some thoughts you might find helpful:

    - too many times you were talking to Randy like he was a(n Arts major) college student, when you really needed to dumb down. When he asked about falsifying evolution, your responses about ‘brain damage’ would give the uneducated the impression that you were avoiding the question. A better answer would be that there were hundreds of ways of falsifying evolution and all have been tested already, and failed. The question is like asking how we could falsify the theory of gravity or heliocentrism. The science of all of those theories has been so well tested that there is little that could be done now that could falsify them, just modify them slightly.

    - similarly you put Randy in the situation of feeling like he was in a college/university oral exam when you asked him how he knows if something is true? I think he felt that if he didn’t give a comprehensive answer that you were setting him up to hang him with his own words, hence his evasiveness. Again sticking to simple examples might have helped, eg. If someone tells you it is raining, how would you know that was true?

  62. theShaggy says

    Aron, the one criticism I’ll have for you is this: Your passion for the topic coupled with your already impressive presence means that sometimes you seem to try to shout people down. This wasn’t the worst – it made me cringe when you were missing your voice on a Magic Sandwich Show a few months back because, like the end here, your passion was leading to huge emotional outbursting.

    DPR was getting annoyed at you for trying to talk over everyone, (though DPR was probably also frustrated otherwise) and poor Randy probably came away from that thinking that he never had a chance to present his perspective because he couldn’t without being interrupted for “clarification.”

    Your points are totally valid and your thoughts are well constructed. I think you just need to give your opponent the chance to express his thoughts before you shoot him down – remember, this guy probably doesn’t realize that he’s parroting the same old same old from Hovind/Comfort/Bruggencate which you guys have argued down over and over and over.

    I hope there’s a round two, and I hope that we get to hear Randy try to think himself through things instead of being told why his thinking was incomplete.

  63. josephdorrell says

    Aron,

    You’re always right, but you’re rarely fair in your discussion.

    Railroading, talking over people, ignoring the moderator. It’s really not good practice. I know you have a lot of clever things to say, but when you’re attempting to communicate knowledge, it is all about the recipient understanding, not about bulldozing over them and making 5 different points before letting them come back.

    I’m a fan of your explanation videos, but increasingly not of your debates.

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  65. says

    I agree with Joseph and Shaggy that you are sometimes your own enemy. I know that you’re a hero of mine because of the light that you’re shed on atheism and your contagious passion for evolution. I also find it difficult to accept when you shout down your interlocutors or make outbursts of the kind mentioned.

    I’ll be honest and tell you, we have a lot in common when debating, when I hear crap I can’t help but jump in and correct it. But it’s best to either re-structure your debates so there’s more balance between the ridiculous dogma and the correction or enlightenment of it. I suspect the religious might find the correction more difficult to take if your tone is too aggressive instead of just assertive.

    If given a choice, I’d rather you did this than not debate, but try to improve your style if you can.

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