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Debates Featuring Ex-christians


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Hi -

 

I've been enjoying watching many of the debates between Christians and atheists/agnostics -- some are pretty good, some seem to be truly missed opportunities. Christopher Hitchens is my favorite to watch, but as an ex-Christian, I'm noticing that there is something really lacking in all these debates... you hear almost nothing (especially from the Christians) about the supernatural role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, which in my opinion is supposed to be the real driving force behind faith, growth, etc. I've hardly heard the Holy Spirit mentioned at all! I think an ex-Christian would be in a much better position to argue against the validity of Christianity due to a better understanding of the teachings regarding the Holy Spirit - that it is supposedly God himself indwelling us at the point of conversion, after which we are supposed to allow him to guide our actions (Galatians is pretty clear on this). The Holy Spirit is also the "still small voice" of God within, which tends to influence people's behavior when they think God is speaking to them. I know many Christian groups don't focus much on "walking according to the Spirit", but seem to go more for the "read and obey" approach, and the debaters on the side of faith are getting away with huge unchecked holes in their arguments by keeping the Holy Spirit out of the conversation.

 

I'm loving the debates I've been watching, but all too often they are like watching a sluggish heavyweight boxing match where you're cringing at all the missed knockout opportunities. Makes me wonder if there's not a behind the scenes gentlemanly agreement on both sides to set boundaries and avoid certain knockout topics so nobody really gets discredited. Many do seem to be more of a show than an honest discourse.

 

Are there any good debates online featuring ex-Christians vs. Christians? Thanks in advance.

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...as an ex-Christian, I'm noticing that there is something really lacking in all these debates... you hear almost nothing (especially from the Christians) about the supernatural role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, which in my opinion is supposed to be the real driving force behind faith, growth, etc. I've hardly heard the Holy Spirit mentioned at all!

I can't speak to online Christian vs ex-Christian debates, though I'm sure they're out there. I'm just a bit burned out on spending the time talking to brick walls so it's been a long time since I trolled for that sort of thing.

 

You have a point though about the lack of discussion of the role of the third person of the trinity. My own personal theory is that the indwelling presence of god within you is probably the least credible part of Christian "thought" and I'm not sure that even most Christians, in their heart of hearts, actually buy it. Because they know their innermost being is just as rife with self doubt and the struggle against selfishness as anyone else. That there is no fundamental, lasting, sustainable change in that as a result of conversion. It's everyone's dirty secret within the faith. You either cover it up and assume you're unique in how fake you are, or you become hallelujah crazy convincing yourself god is really speaking to you.

 

When it comes to the sort of debate you're talking about, I suspect that debating this issue is probably the least productive avenue to pursue, which is why not much is said. If you're honest about the human condition and your own membership in the human race, you're going to admit to being a neurotic bundle of conflicting wants and needs like everyone else and any Christian you debate with is going to claim to be a paragon of Godly refined virtue and where can you really go with that.

 

The best you can do is point out that Christians get divorced (at least) as often as the general population, and similar facts which suggest that Christians aren't especially virtuous or "together", but it all ends up sounding like the tired old saw that you left the church "because it's full of hypocrites". I used to answer that by saying that if I found a perfect church I'd join it and ruin it -- it was my way of saying "god is not finished with me yet", blah blah. It's just a lot of circular reasoning that goes nowhere and I see no point in engaging it.

 

People either see and accept reality for what it is or they don't ...

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Hey, Bob-

 

Thanks very much for the reply. I can see your point about it possibly being fruitless to bring the Holy Spirit into the debate, but I guess I'm thinking about the goal of debate not being to score that argumentative "win", but making a case strong enough to spark independent thinking in the listener -- persuasiveness that might cause people's thinking engines to start up again. It might sway a Christian who is going thru their own faith crisis, or stop another one from taking the plunge more deeply into faith. There are so many people in denial about this, and sure - they may very well remain "brick walls" as most do, but then you have the occasional anomaly like you and I for whom reason does start to take back over. I know we'll never be able to defeat faith as an idea, but I think that when the aspect of the H.S. (or just God's intervention in human affairs) is brought up, it gives the opportunities to show the Bible's promises to us are simply not true. I think that will resonate with at least some people.

 

I recently watched the vids of Chris Hitchens toss around five Christians (including the moderator) at the 2009 Christian Book Fair, and he did a great job but I just saw so many missed opportunities. For those who've seen it, take his argument about suffering, that God did absolutely nothing as the little German girl was raped and abused daily for so many years. The Christian response was pretty much that God doesn't like it, but cannot intervene in free will - basically that he has to allow it to happen. I've also heard the argument in Lee Strobel's "Case For..." vids that we are not alone in those circumstances - that we have to believe Jesus is right there suffering with us and he's able to relate because he suffered so much himself. What a tremendous missed opportunity... I would have immediately asked the panel, "Then why ever pray for protection if God doesn't interfere with free will? And why give God any credit at all (which they do) when they feel delivered from some dangerous situation?" I think an ex-Christian is probably in a better position to handle those types of debate scenarios.

 

You know, I'd totally forgotten about Dan Barker. I haven't seen many of his debates but should watch more. He's quite thorough in his books - wonder how well he holds up in debate? And I also remember seeing a debate with a younger couple (a guy and a red-haired girl) who claimed to have once been in faith, but were now atheists.

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For what it's worth I did a debate a few years ago here with a Christian apologist on a topic similar to what you're getting at. It was basically centered around the Christian claim of the superiority of their religion because of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. My argument was that it is not demonstrable in measured ways beyond what many other philosophies or religions may offer, or may surpass. The central premise was stated as...

So to my central question for Kat in this discussion: What does Christianity offer humanity in this life that no other religion or philosophy can? Can you demonstrate how living by Christian doctrines or philosophies can do something for the individual that no other religion or philosophy can?

 

My contention through this discussion will be to point out how that what I see of Christian teachings does not offer anything that can be shown to be more helpful than what a non-Christian belief system can equally or, in many cases, more effectively offer humanity for living life in today's world. This will be mainly a discussion around the practical philosophical benefits of Christian belief, and an examination of it's boast of divine superiority above other beliefs of man.

 

At the end of this discussion, she graciously conceded the point and left proselytizing in these forums. I may argue my points differently today than I did back in this earlier debate, but I do stand by the point that Christianity by no means may claim superiority in affecting lives positively over all other religions or philosophies. It may have some positive things, but certainly not in any sort of hands down winner sort of way which you would expect from their boasts.

 

You can read that debate here: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/20121-what-does-christianity-offer-humanity-in-this-life-that-no/

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  • 2 weeks later...

For what it's worth I did a debate a few years ago here with a Christian apologist on a topic similar to what you're getting at. It was basically centered around the Christian claim of the superiority of their religion because of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. My argument was that it is not demonstrable in measured ways beyond what many other philosophies or religions may offer, or may surpass...

 

You can read that debate here: http://www.ex-christ...s-life-that-no/

 

Hey, Antlerman!

 

Thanks for the reply, and I checked it out -- will take me a while to go thru all of it, but I can tell it was a great discussion, and you handled yourself very well. Thanks again for sharing this with me.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Here's a link to a debate I had with some nutty Christians a few weeks ago on Christianforums.com.

 

http://www.christianforums.com/t7584655/

 

I went in with the intention of causing a bit of mischief but it ended up a full blown row. A Christian scholar called Eric Hilbert (who I think moderates a Catholic website) really got under my skin and was demanding answers off me about the Bible. He had the upper hand initially and I conceded way too many points because I couldn't be bothered to look up any Bible verses (although as it turned out it was a waste of time anyway). Then this other lad, Chris72 (an atheist) jumps in to give me a helping hand and really discredited Eric Hilbert and showed him up for what he was - a total nutcase and a bigot. I then put the boot in and gave him a verbal savaging! "You're going down, scum-king!" I thought to myself. He eventually had to put me on his Ignore list and left the debate after my tongue lashing! I'm surprised the debate wasn't stopped but the mods probably realised that Eric Hilbert started it and was the most provocative initially. I was quite surprised at my own put downs and caustic wit. It's my best bit of creative writing this year (which isn't saying much). I find the whole thing quite funny now and it may be of interest to people on this forum to go through the debate. I was effectively in the Lion's Den but by the end I think I emerged the victor.

 

Spectrox (formerly Spectrox War)

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