Yes, that was a joke yesterday. No, the show isn’t going away. And no, this blog has not been renamed to “The Rhology/Dan Marvin Apologetic Power Hour.”
It’s important to emphasize this point, because when our regular commenter Dan Marvin saw the altered title of the blog yesterday, he appeared to just about blow a gasket with excitement. He spent a large part of yesterday using the existence of his new pretend TV show as a reason to just burst forth with the preaching to the unwashed masses, in a completely un-ironic way that was also not particularly funny (at least not intentionally so). I would have answered him then, but I wanted to stay “in character” for April Fool’s Day. Luckily, that’s over now.
Personally, I don’t despise Dan in the way that Martin seems to. Maybe it’s because I’m particularly susceptible to implied flattery. A few weeks ago, I casually mentioned that Dan should watch the movie “Memento” in order to get the point I was making about using not personal experience as a substitute for evidence. Then he made a point of posting a reply in the comments on Kazim’s Korner and saying that he did watch it, and liked it. That goes a long way toward making me feel charitable toward a person. (Well, he also called Martin a rude name, but that’s par for the course.)
Dan, now I know that you sometimes sincerely listen to me, and I appreciate that. So please understand that I’m posting this in the spirit of brotherly love and harmony, because frankly, your apologetic style sucks. Very much. You may not believe me, but it’s true when I tell you that I’m trying to help you — and other apologists who might be reading — do it better.
Here’s my first point: learn how to make your own damn arguments, and lay off with the wall-to-wall Bible quotes.
Let me explain.
I am not unfamiliar with the Bible. I went to Jewish Sunday school and covered a lot of old testament material. I played Haman in a Purim play. I did my bar mitzvah speech on “an eye for an eye.” I took two separate college level humanities classes that used the Bible as source material. I have my own Bible. I’ve read it. I’ve read it to my kids. I’ve read CS Lewis and Lee Strobel. I listen to Christian radio, although not as much as I used to, because after many years it gets extremely repetitive.
You may think that when you start quoting the Bible by chapter and verse, you are causing us atheists to take a surprised pause and reconsider our place in the universe. In fact, we’re not doing that. Have you ever seen this Far Side cartoon, where the man is scolding his dog Ginger, but all the dog hears is “blah blah blah GINGER blah blah blah GINGER”? That’s pretty much what atheists hear when you start quoting the Bible: “blah blah blah.” To be perfectly honest, I don’t even read that stuff anymore. My eyes just slide right over those paragraphs as I skim down to try and figure out if you have a point buried in there somewhere.
Now you’re probably already snickering “Hee hee, Kazim just admitted that atheists are as dumb as dogs!” Nope, that’s not it. Think of it like this. Imagine you’re trying to have a conversation with some guy who really loves Star Trek. Every time you try to discuss something with him, he suddenly perks up and babbles random Star Trek references. He’ll say: “You know, in episode 45/4211.4, Captain Kirk said ‘The only solution is…a balance of power. We arm our side with exactly that much more. A balance of power…the trickiest, most difficult, dirtiest game of them all. But the only one that preserves both sides.'” Sometimes the Star Trek quotes make sense in context, and sometimes he just says things that appear to be a complete non sequitur. But he always quotes them with great significance, as if the words of Captain Kirk are the greatest pearls of wisdom that have ever been offered to the world.
After a while, wouldn’t you stop paying attention to what this guy says? I mean, not that there’s anything particularly wrong with Star Trek, but it is, after all, a fictional story written by some guys in Hollywood in order to make a paycheck.
That’s what we think of your Bible. Wait, you’re about to argue and tell me why the Bible is the greatest book ever written. Shut up and listen. I’m sure there’s an argument to be had about why the Bible is important to you and why we should pay attention to it. But the important thing to realize is that we haven’t accepted the Bible as true yet. Maybe you can change that, but you’re never, never, EVER going to change our minds by quoting from the Bible. It’s like trying to prove that Star Trek is true by quoting from Star Trek. It doesn’t work. It’s annoying. You’re wasting both your time and ours. I mean it.
In fact, let’s henceforth refer to this as the Star Trek Rule, and I will try to remind you of it in future conversations, to make sure it sinks in. The Star Trek Rule is this:
Before quoting the Bible to atheists, always ask yourself whether the same statement would be just as effective in your mind if you were quoting Captain Kirk.
If the answer is “yes,” then you may be making a good point that people will listen to. If the answer is “no,” then you are probably trying to rely on the Bible as something that people will regard as credible in its own right… and atheists, because we are blind to the merits of the Bible, will miss the point.
So I’m going to repeat the words with which I started: learn how to make your own damn arguments. Just figure it out. If CS Lewis and Lee Strobel can do it, then you can too. It’s not some magical superpower, it’s just putting your own thoughts in order and then explaining them. If you must quote from the Bible (and frankly I haven’t seen many situations where it makes any difference) then at least use your own words to tell us why we, who believe the Bible is no more credible than Star Trek, should give a hoot about that particular chapter and verse.
And I have just one more point to make: You never change anyone’s mind by personally insulting them. It’s just a fact. Take, for example, the verse you used yesterday… all together now: “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” Ha ha! Zing! We’ve never heard THAT one before! Your fictional book about God says that we’re fools not to believe in the fictional God!
See, this is a doubly bad way to preach effectively, because first it breaks the Star Trek rule (“Captain Kirk says you’re a fool”); and second it makes you sound like a dick. Is your goal to make all the Christians reading the thread chortle with merriment and glee at your wit? Then by all means, be a dick. Doesn’t matter to us. But is your goal to persuade the foolish atheists to accept Jesus as their savior? Then stop being a dick. People don’t listen to dicks. You will get way more positive response by being personable, charming, and interesting. I promise.
Those are my suggestions… take them or leave them.